Hypocrisy, racism, fence-straddling and other trends in the global response to Russian's invasion of Ukraine
With a particular focus on intersections with Israel/Palestine
Also on this page:
• Social Media; Censorship
• Focus on BDS
• Focus on Refugees
The Israeli Kettle and the Russian Pot
Gideon Levy • Haaretz • 27 February 2022
Israel has no right to criticize Russia. A country that has more than once acted exactly like Russia, going wild, has no right to criticize aggression and invasion. A country that had imposed violent occupation for more than 50 years cannot criticize a three-day occupation.
Russia’s justification for an invasion, the propaganda and the lies, seem taken from Israel’s playbook every time it invaded Gaza or Lebanon. Israel always feels threatened, just like Russia, and both deny the national rights of the people it occupies. The Ukrainians are not a people, and neither are the Palestinians. Israel has an ancestral right to the West Bank, and Russia has a similar right to Ukraine – and in the eyes of both, this means the mendacious right to sovereignty. The demonization is also similar: The Ukrainians are Nazis, the Palestinians are terrorists; these are both propaganda lies.
Russia’s invasion should be a mirror for Israeli society
Edo Konrad • 972 Magazine • 27 February 2022
On Saturday night, two days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Israelis, most of them from former Soviet republics, took to the streets of Tel Aviv. Draped in Ukrainian flags, they marched through the city with a clear message: Vladimir Putin’s war must be stopped. The protest was one of many across the world that sought to hold the Russian president accountable for his belligerent attempt to occupy and usurp an entire neighboring country.
Israelis’ sympathy for Ukrainians has resonated far beyond Russian speakers. As Putin’s tanks rolled forward, a single, unifying note-to-self began to emanate from various flanks of the Israeli media: “We have no one to depend on but ourselves.” The slogan, which is deeply embedded in the Israeli psyche, is based on the idea that our existence as Jews has never been guaranteed, and that finally, under a nation-state of our own, we are able to shield ourselves from anyone who seeks to destroy us.
Many point out hypocrisy of media on nobility of Ukrainian resistance and illegitimacy of Palestinian resistance
Philip Weiss • 28 February 2022
The European and American media now celebrating Ukrainian civilians building Molotov cocktails is the same that condemns Palestinians for even picking up a stone to resist military occupation.
If you watched as much broadcast media this weekend as I did, you know that European and American reporters are universally supporting Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion. They are lauding boycott measures such as American citizens pouring vodka down sewer grates, airlines canceling flights, and athletic associations cancelling games. They celebrate the Ukrainian civilians gathering to build Molotov cocktails. They press officials on why the U.S. and Europe have not adopted stiffer sanctions against Russia. (I share these views, without being very well informed on European history.)
But for anyone who follows Palestine, what leaps out is the obvious hypocrisy of official western attitudes toward Palestinian resistance to occupation. In that case there is a long tradition of our media and politicians condemning the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and expressing outrage over Palestinians even picking up stones to resist military occupation.
The good news is that many observers are pointing out the contradiction.
Journalists' Body Warns of Racism, Biases in Western Media Coverage of Ukraine
The Wire • 1 March 2022
A network of Arab and Middle Eastern journalists has asked media organisations, particularly Western ones, to be wary of implicit and explicit bias in their coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying it has observed examples of racist coverage that normalises war in non-European regions.
The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) said it has tracked “examples of racist news coverage that ascribes more importance to some victims of war over others”. It cited examples of comments made by analysts and reporters of prominent media organisations like CBS News, The Telegraph and Al Jazeera English. These comments either privileged the Ukrainians’ Caucasian race or their economic status, contrasting them with people from Middle Eastern countries or North Africa.
“AMEJA condemns and categorically rejects orientalist and racist implications that any population or country is ‘uncivilized’ or bears economic factors that make it worthy of conflict. This type of commentary reflects the pervasive mentality in Western journalism of normalizing tragedy in parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. It dehumanizes and renders their experience with war as somehow normal and expected,” the journalists’ body said in a statement.
Read or listen to this report
THE ARAB AND MIDDLE EASTERN JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION (AMEJA) STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO COVERAGE OF THE UKRAINE CRISIS
Download the statement
They are ‘civilised’ and ‘look like us’: the racist coverage of Ukraine
Moustafa Bayoumi • The Guardian • 2 March 2022
....More troubling still is that this kind of slanted and racist media coverage extends beyond our screens and newspapers and easily bleeds and blends into our politics. Consider how Ukraine’s neighbors are now opening their doors to refugee flows, after demonizing and abusing refugees, especially Muslim and African refugees, for years. “Anyone fleeing from bombs, from Russian rifles, can count on the support of the Polish state,” the Polish interior minister, Mariusz Kaminski, recently stated. Meanwhile, however, Nigeria has complained that African students are being obstructed within Ukraine from reaching Polish border crossings; some have also encountered problems on the Polish side of the frontier.
In Austria, Chancellor Karl Nehammer stated that “of course we will take in refugees, if necessary”. Meanwhile, just last fall and in his then-role as interior minister, Nehammer was known as a hardliner against resettling Afghan refugees in Austria and as a politician who insisted on Austria’s right to forcibly deport rejected Afghan asylum seekers, even if that meant returning them to the Taliban. “It’s different in Ukraine than in countries like Afghanistan,” he told Austrian TV. “We’re talking about neighborhood help.”
On Watching Ukraine Through Palestinian Eyes
Yousef Munayyer • The Nation • 4 March 2022
The rightful outpouring of support for Ukraine teaches us that the West can condemn occupation when it wants to.
Tanks rolling through city streets. Bombs dropping from fighter jets onto apartment buildings. Military checkpoints. Cities under siege. Families separated, fleeing to seek refuge and not knowing when they will see each other or their homes again.
When a military occupation begins to unfold before our eyes, the whole world is forced to pay attention. But while we may all be watching the same thing, some of us see it a little differently.
My first thoughts as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine commenced last week was for the civilian population in Ukraine, who will face the heaviest burden as a much more powerful force seeks to impose its will on them. How many must die? How many civilians will be killed by “precision bombs” that are anything but precise? How soon will freedom come for them? Will they see it in their lifetime? Or will they, like us Palestinians, see the struggle last for generations? I hope, for their sake, that it is the former.
Still, even as it was easy as a Palestinian to identify with the scenes of bombardment, destruction, and refugees, the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was totally foreign to us.
What the war in Ukraine taught us, Palestinians
Mohammed Rafik Mhawesh • Al Jazeera • 6 March 2022
....Speaking at a brief news conference, Lapid defined the “Russian attack on Ukraine” as “a serious violation of the international order”. “Israel condemns that attack and is ready and prepared to offer humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian citizens,” he said. “Israel is a country that has experienced wars, and war is not the way to resolve conflicts.”
Many watching this war from afar likely did not pay much attention to what Lapid has said, or dismissed him as just another politician trying to score points by making empty calls for peace and solidarity.
But for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and apartheid, his defence of and support for the Ukrainian people was a slap in the face – it was a blatant display of hypocrisy.
And it was not only Israel’s foreign minister who hypocritically condemned Russia’s invasion and expressed support for the Ukrainian resistance while ignoring Israel’s own actions.
Thousands of Israelis also took to the streets in Tel Aviv “for Ukraine”. And as they marched with Ukrainian flags at hand and chanted “Free Ukraine”, Palestinian residents of the city watched on speechless.
After all, that many Israelis have never taken to the streets in Israel to demand a “Free Palestine” or at least equal rights for Palestinians living under their state’s apartheid regime. To make matters worse, they undoubtedly know that whenever Palestinians try to take to the streets in Israel to say “Free Palestine” and raise their own flag, they face immediate arrest, police brutality, or worse.
The shock experienced by the Palestinian people since the beginning of the war in Ukraine was not caused solely by the hypocritical actions and words of Israeli officials and citizens either.
VIDEO (2 mins)
Irish MP Richard Boyd Barrett calls out
the double standards on Ukraine and Palestine
Youtube • 5 March 2022
"It took five days for sanctions against Putin
and his thugs but imposing sanctions for 70 years
of oppression of the Palestinians would not be ‘helpful.' "
See the video on the right. »»»»»»
US accused of hypocrisy for supporting sanctions against Russia but not Israel
Chris McGreal • The Guardian • 7 March 2022
Critics compare Israeli military actions of Palestinian territories with Russian invasion of Ukraine but pro- Israel groups dismiss allegations as false parallels
The US and some of its European allies are facing accusations of double standards for supporting sanctions and international war crimes investigations against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine while blocking them over Israeli military actions in the occupied Palestinian territories.
But pro-Israel groups in the US have dismissed the allegations by accusing critics of exploiting Ukrainian suffering to draw false parallels.
Last month, Amnesty International called for the UN to impose targeted sanctions against Israel after joining other human rights groups in accusing it of breaching international law by practicing a form of apartheid and committing a crime against humanity in its “domination” of the Palestinians.
The racism of Western media reflects the racism of Western governments
Rifat Audeh • 7 March 2022
Orientalist media coverage of the war in Ukraine reflects the worldview inherent in Western governments' policies.
If the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has shown us anything, it is the blatant racism, hypocrisy and double standards that permeate our world today.
Reporting on the Russian invasion into Ukraine, on February 25, 2022, CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata stated that “this isn’t a place like Iraq or Afghanistan…this is a relatively civilized relatively European city where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen”. The clear insinuation here is that those people from Iraq or Afghanistan (i.e. those dark-skinned people) are not civilized. Interestingly, the remarks about hoping it would not happen in a relatively European city carry the connotation that one doesn’t really care if it happens in those aforementioned faraway lands. The inherent racism revealed by D’Agata exposes his ignorance of the fact that the cradle of civilization itself originated in Mesopotamia which is modern day Iraq, in addition to exposing his ignorance or denial of the “civilized” West’s atrocity-filled colonial past and present.
It must be noted that D’Agata is not alone in his bigotry, with such contemptible statements filling the airwaves by so-called journalists and pundits alike. Ukraine’s former deputy chief prosecutor, David Sakvarelidze, told the BBC, unchallenged: “It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blond hair being killed.” When NBC News correspondent Kelly Cobiella was asked on why Poland is suddenly accepting (the Ukrainian) refugees now while it didn’t accept others in 2015 (from other ethnicities), she responded saying “Just to put it bluntly, these are not refugees from Syria….these are Christians, they’re white”. The Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov shamelessly stated outright: “These are not the refugees we are used to; these people are Europeans… These people are intelligent. They are educated people,” thus painting entire populations of other people as unintelligent and uneducated.
Justifications for Destroying a People
Peter Beinart • 8 March 2022
The arguments Russia’s government deploys to dehumanize Ukrainians are strikingly similar to the ones Israel’s government uses to dehumanize Palestinians.
In mainstream American discourse, Ukrainians, a mostly white and Christian people battling an American foe, are viewed as fully human, and thus entitled to fight for their freedom. Palestinians, a mostly nonwhite and non-Christian people battling an American ally, are not. The irony is that the arguments Russia’s government deploys to dehumanize Ukrainians are strikingly similar to the ones Israel’s government uses to dehumanize Palestinians. For Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian peoplehood is invented, weaponized, and genocidal, which is how Israeli leaders have long described Palestinian peoplehood. In both cases, this three-part claim—that a neighboring people is not really a people, that it is controlled by foreign foes, and that it seeks your extermination—justifies aggression and the brutal denial of human rights.
Molotov Cocktails and the media's double standard
Yumna Patel • 8 March 2022
For the past two weeks, my social media timelines have been flooded with everything about Ukraine: news reports, friends sharing humanitarian appeals, celebrities and supermodels sharing solidarity posts, and the ordinary Twitter user sharing their opinions on the situation.
The images of people fleeing their homes with the clothes on their backs, families huddling in makeshift shelters to hide from the bombs, destroyed apartment buildings, and military jeeps patrolling the streets are all images we’ve seen before in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and of course, Palestine.
Since I began reporting in Palestine 6 years ago, these are the types of images that come across my desk every single day. Whether in Gaza or the West Bank, where the Israeli occupation goes, disaster and destruction inevitably follows.
When you report on conflict, no matter where in the world, these are the types of images you have to be ready to see. And in a sense, I was “prepared” to witness the devastating images coming out of Ukraine.
What I was not prepared for -- though in hindsight I should’ve known better -- was the absolutely wild coverage coming out of Western media.
VIDEO (10 mins)
Ukraine: Responding to Racist Media
and Global Double Standards
Youtube • 8 March 2022
A response to the double standards and racist
responses by the media, politicians, and governments
towards "non-European" people suffering from war,
oppression and injustice and their resistance to it.
The framing in public discourse has been around those
who are "civilized" and "uncivilized" and very much
defined along racial lines.
See the video on the right »»»»»»
How the Russia-Ukraine war exposed European hypocrisy over Palestine
Alaa Tartir • 9 March 2022
It's astonishing to witness the swift European response, the ability to mobilise quickly, and the celebration of resistance when it is 'white, blond and blue-eyed'
Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, I was asked during several conversations with European policymakers: "What can Europeans do to address the injustice in Palestine?" But when I suggested a list of desired interventions, I got in return fake smiles, rolled eyes, or suggestions that these were unrealistic demands.
For example, when I suggested that Europeans should support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, the answer was: "No, no, that belongs to another era." When I recommended a quick, unified European response to Israeli atrocities, I was told: "That does not exist; we are fragmented and very different, and the process of establishing a consensus is unfeasible." On resistance, it "is not a word we like to hear in our policy domains. That is inherently aggressive, and most likely violent."
How about solidarity, I asked? "Well, we prefer diplomacy. That is more modern and less activist." Liberation? "That is unattainable. What about self-governing?"
Read the text and think of Palestine. Read it again and think of Ukraine.
Israel Advocates Rush to Deny any Parallel Between Ukraine and Palestine
Michael Arria • 10 March 2022
....All this talk of double standards has created at least a little anxiety among pro-Israel groups and lobbying organizations. "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a dispute over territory by two peoples who both have historic claims and connections," tweeted ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. "The path to resolution is through building engagement and ultimately a two-state solution that provides security, dignity and self-determination to both."
"To compare this complexity to Russia's brute use of force against the sovereign & peaceful nation of Ukraine is to intentionally misrepresent the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is deeply insensitive to the security and humanitarian crisis confronting Ukrainians today," he continued.
Greenblatt's tweet received a response from Jehad Abusalim, AFSC education and policy coordinator: "During THE FIRST TWO DAYS of its attack on Gaza in 2008, Israel murdered THREE HUNDRED Palestinians. THREE HUNDRED people were killed in less than 48 hours!! When it comes to the scale of violence and brutality, you can’t obscure the asymmetry of power and loss like that! 300!"
On Western Hypocrisy
Haidar Eid • 22 March 2022
There are no Western double standards, as claimed by most Palestinians and their supporters. In fact, the capitalist West has been consistent in its support for the Zionist enterprise in Palestine since its inception. It has never claimed otherwise. Not in 1948, when it recognized the establishment of a Jewish State at the expense of the indigenous population of Palestine, nor in 1967 when Israel expanded its colonial project to occupy the rest of Palestine with some parts of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. And since 1967, it has expanded its settlements in the occupied West Bank, besieged the Gaza Strip, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and openly endorsed apartheid laws against its second-class Palestinian citizens.
These have been testified to by mainstream, Western human rights organizations, but Western governments have done absolutely nothing in support of the Palestinian people. On the contrary, those same governments have been absolutely clear about their racist policies vis-à-vis Palestinian human rights. For them, dark, “Airab,” Palestinians are not as human as white, Ashkenazi Jews who happen to be the victims of the worst antisemitic, Western pogrom of the 20th century.
If Israel attacks Gaza (as it did in 2009, 2012, 2014, 2021) and kills thousands of innocent civilians, destroys high rise buildings, and murders nonviolent demonstrators, it is Palestinians who are to blame. At best, “both sides” should show “self-restraint,” i.e., the army that is equipped with American-made F35 fighter planes, nuclear warheads, tanks, and phosphorous bombs to name but a few, and children and women deprived of their basic rights and besieged in what has become the largest open-air prison on earth, are treated equally. The latter’s crime is that they are not born to blonde, blue-eyed mothers! This is racist white supremacy at its best.
We dare not ask for a boycott of apartheid Israel, nor actual respect for our basic human rights, let alone for our popular resistance. Isn’t that what the same Western governments support in Ukraine? But how dare we Palestinians even think of that analogy?
The west doesn’t care about the people it kills
Donald Johnson • 9 March 2022
The west doesn’t care about the people it kills. Part of the evidence for this has been on the front pages of every newspaper and on every news show since Russia launched the Ukrainian invasion. The rest of the evidence is what has been missing on the front pages of the newspapers and TV shows. The contrast makes the point.
You see no universal Western outrage over the US support for the Saudi blockade on Yemen. The war had killed an estimated 377,000 by the end of 2021, the majority of them children dead of famine. We see an occasional story but nothing remotely like the moral outrage over the Ukrainian invasion. The children are Arabs and we are supporting the ones most responsible for killing them.
And then there are our sanctions on Afghanistan and the American theft of their money. In that link, Ezra Klein in the New York Times attributes good intentions to Biden officials but makes it clear what the obvious results will be—immense suffering and death. He suggests they might be blinded by their ideology, unable to zoom out from it.
And then there are the sanctions we are imposing on various countries such as Iran, Syria and Venezuela.
These sanctions are designed precisely to pressure governments by causing suffering and in the end, increased mortality rates among the population. Richard Nephew who designed the sanctions imposed on Iran during the Obama Administration explicitly admits that sanctions are meant to cause pain in his book “The Art of Sanctions”. (The “look inside” feature on Amazon shows enough to see Nephew’s declaration about the purpose of sanctions being the inflicting of pain.)
And of course there is the ongoing American support for the apartheid state of Israel, with photos of brutality against Palestinians which people have falsely attributed to the Russian invasion.
The US supports illegal annexations by Israel and Morocco.
Why the hypocrisy?
Peter Beinart • 10 March 2022
America must be consistent. It cannot pick and choose when to follow international law
Last December, as Russian forces encircled Ukraine, the Biden administration and its allies delivered a stark warning to Vladimir Putin: “Any use of force to change borders is strictly prohibited under international law.”
In January, as Russian troops massed even in even greater numbers, Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that “the inviolability of frontiers” was among the “guiding principles for international behavior.” Last month, after Russia’s parliament recognized the independence of two self-declared republics Moscow had cleaved from eastern Ukraine, Blinken called this infringement upon “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” a “gross violation of international law.”
All this is indisputably true. Remaking borders by force violates a core principle of international law. Which is why the Biden administration must do more than resist Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. It must stop violating that principle itself.
In 2019, the Trump administration made the United States the only foreign country to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 War. Tel Aviv University Law Professor Eliav Lieblich noted that the decision – which contradicted a unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution supported by the US itself – constituted a “significant departure from the bedrock legal prohibition of unilateral annexation.” Yale Law School’s Oona Hathaway called the move “outrageous and potentially destabilizing to the postwar international order.” The Russian government called it an “indication of the contempt that Washington shows for the norms of international law.”
PODCAST (31 mins)
A Shared Russian/Israeli Playbook?
Dehumanizing a People to Justify Its Erasure & Denial of Rights
FMEP • 11 March 2022
Lara Friedman and Peter Beinart
In this episode of Occupied Thoughts podcast, Lara Friedman speaks with Peter Beinart about his recent article, Justifications for Destroying a People, examining similarities between arguments Putin is putting forward to dehumanize Ukrainians and arguments long used by Israel to dehumanize Palestinians. This podcast is a follow-up to Lara’s March 3rd Occupied Thoughts episode featuring Yousef Munayyer, looking at the world’s double standard on BDS – Russia/Ukraine vs. Israel/Palestine.
Hear the podcast
Palestinians on Ukraine double standard:
‘Their resistance is legalized, ours is not’
Yumna Patel • 21 March 2022
From the moment Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in late February, Rizk Atawneh, 30, a social and political activist from Hebron in the occupied West Bank, was glued to the news.
Like many Palestinians, and millions of people around the world, Atawneh was captivated by the news coming out of Russia and Ukraine, anxiously awaiting any developments. After all, this could possibly turn into “World War III,” Atawneh quipped, something that would “affect us all.”
What started off as an interest in international affairs, however, soon turned into a more personal matter for Atawneh.
SOCIAL MEDIA; CENSORSHIP
Who gets to speak out against their occupier on social media?
Mona Shtaya. •. 972 Magazine • 22 March 2022
Social media giants are taking action to protect Ukrainians' free speech as they resist a military occupation. Why aren't they doing the same for Palestinians?
In early March, the tech conglomerate Meta, among other social media companies, issued new guidelines that provide exceptions in several countries for Facebook and Instagram posts that contain violent speech toward Russia’s army and politicians, including President Vladimir Putin.
The new measures came as part of the mass international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month, including reactions from social media platforms, which have scrambled to implement existing policies regarding the war. These measures were ostensibly adopted to protect Ukrainians’ online content, amplify their voices, and help them resist the invasion.
Many of these measures were not just unprecedented; they demonstrated both the capability and the will of social media corporations to stand with oppressed people and hold aggressors and occupying powers accountable — depending on the circumstances.
Facebook’s hypocritical stand on violence against Russian and Israeli soldiers
Ghana Hani • 14 March 2022
Through all ways and means, the Israeli occupation had, since its existence, and continues, deliberately and purposefully restricts the Palestinian content that marks the daily suffering and oppression the defenseless Palestinian people are exposed to under unjust policies. The Facebook company, which aligns with the Israeli occupation, promotes illegal and unfair policies to marginalize the Palestinian narrative. Many Palestinian voices have been silenced under the pretext of violating the “Community Guidelines” for Facebook and Instagram– simply for revealing Israeli crimes.
Double standards Double standards and hypocrisy have become more apparent than any time before since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has recently announced that it has changed its policies regarding combating calls for violence in several countries. This is due to Russia’s war against Ukraine. Meta has allowed posts on Facebook and Instagram to call for violence and death against Putin and Russian soldiers. So Facebook and Instagram allow hate speech and racism to spread as far as they want, depending on their purposes.
FOCUS ON BDS
West’s response to Russian invasion demolishes excuses for rejecting BDS against Apartheid Israel
Palestinian BDS National Committee
16 March 2022
The Western campaign to boycott and sanction Russia has effectively demolished almost all the anti-BDS excuses propagated by Israel and its anti-Palestinian apologists meant to thwart Palestinian calls for accountability and justice.
Palestinians are watching with empathy the suffering of millions of Ukrainians facing war, particularly the over two million refugees seeking safety in neighboring countries. In harmony with the absolute majority of humanity living in the Global South, the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the largest coalition in Palestinian society that leads the global BDS movement, opposes war, whether it is Russia’s illegal aggression in Ukraine today, which violates the UN Charter regardless of persistent NATO provocations, or the many patently illegal and immoral US- or NATO- led wars of the past decades which have devastated whole nations and killed millions.
We see in the West’s warm reception of Ukraine’s white refugees an example for how all refugees escaping the ravages of war, economic devastation, or climate injustice should be treated by the West, particularly when these calamities are primarily caused by Western imperialism. This warmth, however, stands in sharp contrast with how these same countries have treated Brown and Black refugees arriving at their shores and borders, with racism, walls, “push-backs,” forced family separations, even drownings – the same bigotry that non-white refugees from Ukraine have experienced.
See the full statement
Why anti-Russia boycotts should revive the Palestinian BDS movement
Nada Elia • 6 May 2022
Now is the time to denounce western double standards, which delegitimise BDS against Israel while justifying it in support of Ukraine.
The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is in full swing in the US. The Biden administration is implementing it, as Republican members of Congress ask for even harsher sanctions. Most Americans approve of this policy and are eager to do their part by individually boycotting products and seeking out alternatives.
This is not fanciful thinking; it has been reality since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine. The western response was swift, as the EU, US, UK and Canada imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia, targeting President Vladimir Putin and his cronies, along with Russia’s largest financial institutions and tech companies.
Governors who criminalized BDS in their states demand boycott of Russia
Michael Arria • 28 February 2022
Anti-BDS politicians want to boycott, divest, and sanction Russia over the. Ukraine invasion.
A number of U.S. lawmakers have called for a boycott targeting Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, but some of the same politicians are responsible for their states’ anti-BDS laws.
“Today I sent a letter to the Liquor Control Board urging them to remove Russian-sourced products from stores and cease selling them ASAP,” tweeted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. “Pennsylvania stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”
“I urge you to remove Russian-sourced products from stores and cease selling them as quickly as possible as a small show of solidarity and support for the people of Ukraine, and an expression of our collective revulsion with the unprovoked actions of the Russian state,” reads Wolf’s letter to the Liquor Control Board.
Russia, Ukraine, Israel and the limits of BDS
Jonathan Ofir • 28 February 2022
Those boycotting Russia with passion should consider using the same means to help Palestinians overcome Israeli apartheid.
I was actually surprised to see the popular mobilization of Danes towards a sweeping boycott of Russia in the past few days.
On Friday, I was in Aarhus, the second biggest city in Denmark. It was quite dramatic. The Ukrainian flag was hanging on the wall of the town hall alongside the Danish flag. In the evening, a gala concert with the star Russian-born soprano Anna Netrebko was cancelled an hour before its start, by herself: She is a known fan of Putin, some of the public campaigned to boycott it, politicians from the municipality got involved in lobbying for it as well. Despite the venue not cancelling (they would have needed a political mandate), Netrebko eventually decided to cancel, citing the “current situation” and ”sad days” as the reason. A day later, the municipality already got the mandate from above, and announced that this week’s planned performance of the Russian ballet would be cancelled. On the news I was hearing about the big supermarket chains removing Russian products from the shelves.
The European Broadcasting Union recently announced that “no Russian act will participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest”, because “the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute”. It’s worth reflecting how in 2019, when the contest was held in Israel, the Icelandic broadcaster was fined 5,000 Euros after it showed footage of an Icelandic group merely waving a Palestinian flag in the green room, breaking the supposed “no-politics rule”.
Boycotting Russia compulsory, while boycotting Israel is punished
Tamara Nassar • 2 March 2022
As the invasion of Ukraine dominates headlines, there have been sweeping moves to exclude Russia and Russians from sporting and cultural events.
That comes on top of massive sanctions by the United States, Canada and European countries on Russia’s financial system, economy and airlines.
The immediacy with which Russia has become a pariah in the sports world is a slap in the face to Palestinians who have seen teams and federations cross their boycott picket line, supposedly to keep politics out of sports.
And in sharp contrast to Russia, the US faced no such exclusions or sanctions after it illegally invaded Iraq in 2003.
Boycotting a country accused of aggression in violation of international law has suddenly become justifiable and even a moral obligation – but apparently only as long as it is Russia.
Astonishingly, many of the anti-Russia measures are being implemented by the very same organizations that repeatedly ignored or rejected Palestinian calls to sanction Israel, their oppressor.
‘Hypocrisy’: Lawmakers fighting Israel boycott now all-in for Russia sanctions
Joseph Gedeon • Politico • 7 March 2022
While U.S. politicians have jumped over themselves to sanction Russia back to the Stone Age, widespread anti-BDS sentiment among politicians has advocates iced out of public debate.
As the prospect of a Russian invasion into Ukraine was inching closer to reality, the U.S. took proactive steps with its allies to coordinate more concentrated sanctions against Moscow. And when the war erupted, the U.S. announced it was ready to impose stiffer sanctions, including freezing U.S. assets held by Russian banks, enforcing restrictions on high-tech imports and seizing oligarchs’ homes, planes and yachts.
The tough rhetoric and swift reprisals have been embraced by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who have called for sanctions to decimate Russia’s economy. To some longtime advocates of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement meant to target Israel’s economy amid bloody conflicts with Palestinians, those calls sound eerily familiar.
The hypocrisy is evident as well in the dozens of state-level laws and other measures in the United States targeting boycotts of Israel, including in Congress. Barghouti, who is also a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, says that Palestinians "empathize with the millions of Ukrainians, especially refugees."
But the boycotts of all things Russian, he warns, risk punishing people who are not involved in Russia's war, based only on their identity. "BDS targets complicity, not identity," he says. "Whenever an individual is targeted because they represent a complicit institution—an institution that's part of Israel's apartheid system—it is never based on identity. It's based on actual proven complicity. So we watch with horror not just what's happening to Ukrainians, but what's happening with those measures being imposed on normal Russians."
FIFA’s hypocrisy in Palestine and the Ukraine
Ramzy Baroud • 10 March 2022
European academics applaud boycott of Russia, call for similar action against Israel
Israel’s war on Palestinian sports is as old as the Israeli state itself.
For Palestinians, sports is a critical aspect of their popular culture, and since Palestinian culture itself is a target for the ongoing Israeli attack on Palestinian life in all of its manifestations, sports and athletes have been purposely targeted as well. Yet, the world’s main football governing body, FIFA, along with other international sports organizations, has done nothing to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against Palestinian sports.
Now that FIFA, along with UEFA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and others have swiftly joined the West’s anti-Russia measures as a result of the latter’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Palestinians and their supporters are puzzled. Years of relentless advocacy to sanction Israel at international sports competitions have paid little or no dividends. This has continued to be the case, despite the numerous documented facts of Israel’s intentional targeting of Palestinian stadiums, travel restrictions on athletes, the cancelation of sports events, the arrest and even killing of Palestinian footballers.
Many Palestinians, Arabs and international activists have already highlighted the issue of western hypocrisy in the case of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine by apartheid Israel within hours of the start of the Russian military operations. Almost immediately, an unprecedented wave of boycotts and sanctions of everything Russian, including music, art, theater, literature and, of course, sports, kicked in.
What took the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa decades to achieve was carried out against Russia in a matter of hours and days.
Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine
17 March 2022
A group of mathematicians welcome the decision of the European Mathematical Society (EMS) to freeze academic cooperation with state institutions and business enterprises in Russia, in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. They call on the EMS to apply the same universal principles it has so justifiably implemented with regard to Russia and to suspend academic cooperation with the Israeli corporate members until such time as their Palestinian colleagues will be able to enjoy the full academic and political rights to which they are entitled.
The Wrong Way to Boycott
Yousef Munayyer •. Jewish Currents • 22 March 2022
In contrast to ineffective—or even unethical—actions targeting Russian culture and individuals, the Palestinian BDS campaign is a model of how to use boycott and divestment efforts strategically.
For those of us who have advocated for the use of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions as tools to advance Palestinian rights only to be told that they are illegitimate, the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlights Western governments’ willingness to embrace these tactics when policymakers identify with the victims of a crisis. In the three weeks since the war began, 46 countries have imposed sanctions on Russia, and a broad range of corporate entities have moved to divest from the country or suspend operations there.
Netflix paused its service; Starbucks shuttered its coffee shops; American, Delta, and United Airlines canceled their flights; energy giant Shell severed its partnership with the Russian Gazprom; financial entities from Deutsche Bank to Goldman Sachs announced they were “winding down” their business in the country. Meanwhile, impromptu boycotts of Russian products, or products perceived to be Russian, have swept Western nations: Americans have sought to show solidarity with Ukraine by dumping bottles of vodka and boycotting small businesses whose Russian-speaking owners may in fact be, say, Latvian, or Estonian, or even Ukrainian.
Some of these boycotts targeting Russia or Russians are misplaced, sloppy, ineffective, and even downright unethical. But that doesn’t mean that BDS tools shouldn’t be deployed in Russia, Palestine, or elsewhere. If anything, the BDS campaign that has emerged from a call by Palestinian civil society is a model of what it means to use boycotts, divestment, and sanctions in a careful and purposeful way. By analyzing the routinely maligned Palestinian call for BDS, we can derive lessons about the right and wrong way to employ these strategies.
'Our South Africa Moment.' Omar Barghouti on the Future of the BDS Movement
Adam Shapiro • DAWN • 24 March 2022
Beyond the battlefield in Ukraine, the international response to Russia's invasion has moved with unprecedented speed and scope, from sweeping sanctions on the Russian government to major corporate divestments from Russia and boycotts of Russian goods. But for prominent Palestinian activists like Omar Barghouti, "the West's blatant hypocrisy" is unavoidable.
"These acts have effectively demolished all the anti-BDS excuses propagated by Israel and its anti-Palestinian apologists in the West over the last 17 years to try to thwart our calls for accountability and justice," he says in an interview with Democracy in Exile, referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that he cofounded in 2005. The BDS movement, which began among Palestinian civil society and has grown into an international solidary campaign, seeks to put economic and political pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territory, similar to the international boycotts, divestments and sanctions that isolated the apartheid government in South Africa and helped end that racist system.
VIDEO (50 mins)
No more excuses for apartheid Israel boycotts
Electronic Intifada • 27 March 2022
with Olivia Katbi and Omar Zahzah
Report by Nora Barros-Friedman
....Katbi tells us that it is critical to understand the difference between the brutal sanctions being imposed on Russia – which are also applied to Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and other states labeled as “enemies” of the West – and the kind of sanctions that the BDS campaign calls for.
By design, she says, the intention of these Western sanctions against Russia and other states “is to strangle the general population … they restrict access to food, medicine, energy, other resources that people need to survive, essentially, with the goal of inciting a revolt.”
The sanctions Palestinians are calling for in the BDS movement, she explains, “are first and foremost about governments just fulfilling their legal obligations to end Israeli apartheid, and not aid or assist in its maintenance.”
When politicians and businesses are implementing these sweeping actions against Russia, “it’s not BDS,” Katbi says.
“We wouldn’t use the BDS acronym to describe the actions they’re taking, because BDS is a very specific call for very specific actions based on complicity, not based on identity or political opinion.”
Read more and watch the podcast
Here Are Some of the Companies That Have Pledged to Stop Business in Russia
NY Times • Published 9 March, updated 29 March 2022
After the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, ordered the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, multinational companies have been forced to re-examine their ties with Russia. Some, like McDonald’s, PepsiCo and Shell, had built relationships with the country over decades and were faced with untangling complicated deals.
Under pressure from investors and consumers, many Western companies have started to unwind their investments, close stores and pause sales in Russia.
POLITICAL RESPONSE IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE
Palestinian Authority caught between the U.S. and Russia on Ukraine
Ramzy Baroud • 17 March 2022
A new global geopolitical game is in formation, and the Middle East, as is often the case, will be directly impacted by it in terms of possible new alliances and resulting power paradigms. While it is too early to fully appreciate the impact of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war on the region, it is obvious that some countries are placed in relatively comfortable positions in terms of leveraging their strong economies, strategic location and political influence. Others, especially non-state actors, like the Palestinians, are in an unenviable position.
Despite repeated calls on the Palestinian Authority by the US Biden Administration and some EU countries to condemn Russia following its military intervention in Ukraine on February 24, the PA has refrained from doing so. Analyst Hani al-Masri was quoted in Axios as saying that the Palestinian leadership understands that condemning Russia “means that the Palestinians would lose a major ally and supporter of their political positions.” Indeed, joining the anti-Russia western chorus would further isolate an already isolated Palestine, desperate for allies who are capable of balancing out the pro-Israel agenda at US-controlled international institutions, like the UN Security Council.
FOCUS ON REFUGEES
Which refugees have the right to go home?
Orly Noy • 972 Magazine • 6 March 2022
Much has already been said about Israel’s inhumane policies toward refugees in general, and in particular African asylum seekers who fled the horrors of war in their countries and have been subjected to years of endless humiliations. Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, we have witnessed this inhumane treatment meted out against Ukrainian refugees as well.
The demand that Ukrainian refugees pay a large deposit to deter them from remaining long term indicates that, for Israel, the condition of being a refugee is supposed to end the moment the danger passes. At that point, the thinking goes, the refugees should return to their home country. This, of course, applies only to refugees for whose flight Israel itself is not responsible.
When it comes to Palestinian refugees, Israel will prevent their return at all costs, lock the gates in their faces, and forever determine the refugee status of their children and grandchildren. Israel believes refugees from anywhere else in the world should be able to and are even required to return to their homeland at the end of hostilities. Yet Palestinian refugees, who Israel itself created in 1948, are barred from returning to their homeland, even seven decades after the end of the war.
VIDEO (4.5 mins)
Most of us will never understand the plight of a refugee.
They are all deserving of humanity
Ali Velshi. •. MSNBC • 13 March 2022
There are more than 2.7 million Ukrainian refugees and counting. It’s hard to even conceptualize 2.7 million people fleeing one country in a matter of two weeks. But these 2.7 million people are only about 10% of the number of refugees in the world right now. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their country because of war, violence, conflict or persecution.
More than two-thirds, or 68%, of all refugees originate from five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar. The five countries that have taken in the most refugees are Turkey, Colombia, Pakistan, Uganda and Germany. What Europe and the world have shown the Ukrainian refugees is right and good.
But the other 27 million refugees around the world are every bit deserving of our attention, or money, our political support, and our humanity.
See the video
Refugees of apartheid: Why Israelis need to talk about Palestinian return
Yara Bengar Alaluf • 17 March 2022
Amnesty's bombshell report and Ukraine's refugee crisis are an opportunity for Israelis to rethink their denial of Palestinian return to their homeland.
....The decision to refer to the Palestinian refugees in a report on Israel’s present responsibility and steps required for a future of justice, equality, and reconciliation is a unique one, which breaks through the narrow bounds of Jewish-Israeli political discourse. Within that discourse, the right of return is usually addressed in terms originating from the Israel propaganda machine: from “there was a war and they lost it,” to the claim that the return of Palestinian refugees is synonymous with the end of Jewish existence in Israel. Reading the “apartheid report” offers an opportunity to realize that the opposite is true: it is preventing refugee return that constitutes an ongoing existential threat.
Where refugees become settlers
Raef Zreik • 972 Magazine • 22 March 2022
Europeans may see the backs of Ukrainian Jews running for their lives, but Palestinians see the faces of soldiers and settlers taking over their land.
For the Jewish refugees who have been arriving in Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport over the past several weeks, fleeing Putin’s war on Ukraine, any home not under Russian bombardment might serve as a safe haven. But given Israel’s plans to dispatch them to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Naqab/Negev — where Palestinians have been, or are being, forced out of their homes — those same refugees are no longer inhabiting a singular role as victims.
This tension perfectly encapsulates a far bigger story: that of Zionism writ large since the early 20th century, and how the noble aim of saving lives and resisting oppression ends up being used to justify the oppression of another people.
It is a story of how the dispossessed and powerless become powerful agents of dispossession themselves; of how Europeans see the backs of the Jewish refugees running for their lives, but we, Palestinians, see the faces of the soldiers and settlers taking over our land and our homes.
Israeli Settlers’ Grim Offer to Ukraine's Jewish Refugees
Arkadi Mazin • Haaretz • 27 March 2022
Israel’s settler council is preying on vulnerable refugees from Ukraine, offering help and homes in West Bank settlements. Beneath the smiles, there's a toxic message: Flee occupation, become occupiers
I am looking at a leaflet in Russian distributed by the Judea and Samaria Council, the representative body for Israel’s West Bank settlements.
It reads: "Dear friends arriving in Israel from Ukraine and the former Soviet Union! We are ready to host you in the towns and settlements of Judea and Samaria. We will help you to choose a destination, settle in, choose an ulpan [Hebrew language course] for yourself and a school for your kids, and navigate the bureaucracy."
News & Analysis Russian Invasion of Ukraine
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