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American Friends Service Committee: Nobel Prize-winning NGO which rescued refugees from Nazis among 20 organisations on Israel’s BDS blacklist

- 1515434471 boycott israel - American Friends Service Committee: Nobel Prize-winning NGO which rescued refugees from Nazis among 20 organisations on Israel’s BDS blacklist


A Quaker organisation which received the Nobel Peace Prize for rescuing refugees from the Nazis during the Second World War is among 20 activist groups whose members will be barred from entering Israel over their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The blacklist follows up on a controversial law enacted by Israel last year which bans any activist who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting” the country.

Responding to the list, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) said it would continue to work for “peace and justice.”

The group, together with the Friends Service Council, a British Quaker organisation, won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for assisting Second World War refugees, primarily Jews.

“We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations,” said Kerri Kennedy, an AFSC official.

The listed groups, primarily from Europe and America, count thousands of people as members. It includes the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and War on Want.

Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want, said the blacklist is “a desperate attempt to silence a growing movement that is holding Israel to account for its systematic abuse of Palestinian rights, and persistent violations of international law.”

Mr Rehman said: “This measure is typical of Israel’s ongoing repression of the Palestinian people. 

“The UK government must condemn this latest crackdown on human rights defenders. They must also take immediate steps to hold Israel to account for its continuing violations of Palestinian rights through measures such as the immediate suspension of its trade relations with Israel, including the arms trade”.

He added: “This blacklist is a repressive tactic borrowed from the same playbook used by the apartheid regime in South Africa, when it tried to censor critics. Such attempts to silence human rights defenders through blacklisting and targeted harassment failed then as they will now.”

Rock star Roger Waters says Radiohead should not be playing in Israel due to the BDS movement

Hugh Lanning, chair of the PSC, said in a statement: “This latest announcement should be a wakeup call for the UK government and all those who continue to describe Israel as a normal liberal democracy. Liberal democracies do not prevent entry to individuals whose only offence is to draw attention to human rights abuses and to call for non-violent action to address them.  Only states that wish to protect their ability to act unjustly behave in this way. 

“Boris Johnson must take robust action to protect the rights of UK citizens to protest peacefully and to cross borders without illegitimate restriction. He should make clear that the UK Government will not cooperate with these measures.”

The US-based Jewish Voice for Peace, which was also blacklisted, said in a Facebook post: “Israel’s decision to specifically ban JVP is disconcerting but not surprising, given the further erosion of democratic norms and rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom.”

Responding to news of the blacklist, Gary Spedding, a British cross-party consultant on Israel and the Palestinian Territories, told The Independent the blacklist was merely an excuse to legally justify barring activists and human rights observers from entering the country. 

The boycott movement has thousands of supporters around the world (AFP/Getty Images)

A statement by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry said those who have carried out “significant, ongoing and consistent harm to Israel through advocating boycotts may be considered to have their entry barred.” It said “central figures in key boycott organisations” risked being prevented entry.

“The boycott organisations must know that the state of Israel will act against them,” Gilad Erdan, the minister for strategic affairs said in a statement. “The creation of this list is another step in our struggle against the incitement and lies of the boycott organisations.” 

The BDS movement has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel and includes thousands of supporters around the world. 

Supporters of the movement say the tactics are a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause, while Israel says the campaign goes beyond fighting its occupation of territory Palestinians claim for their state and often masks a more far-reaching aim to delegitimize or destroy the nation of Israel.

Last year, Hugh Lanning, chair of the PSC, became the first British citizen to be refused entry to Israel under the law, and Professor Kemal Hawwash, a British-Palestinian man, was also forced to fly back to the UK.

In a statement, the Israeli embassy in London said: “Like all other democracies, Israel will deny entrance to organisations and individuals working to undermine and harm Israel’s national security. The organisations named in the list released yesterday have undertaken ongoing, consistent and significant action to promote and advance a boycott of Israel.”

It said the regulation excludes political criticism of Israel as criteria for an organisation appearing on the list, and added that several other counties had taken steps to counter boycotts against Israel.

Independent

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Middle East

Iraq sentences German woman to death for joining Isis, reports say

- 1516551522 mosul - Iraq sentences German woman to death for joining Isis, reports say


An Iraqi court has sentenced a German woman to death after she ran away to join Isis.

The court in Baghdad convicted the unnamed German woman of “providing logistical support and assistance to the terrorist group to commit crimes” and has ordered her execution.

The spokesman of the Supreme Judicial Council, Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, says the woman acknowledged joining Isis after travelling from Germany to Syria and then to Iraq along with her two daughters. Both daughters later married militants. 

She is believed to have been living in the Mannheim region of Germany when she travelled to Syria but is reportedly of Moroccan descent. 

The woman is believed to have been among a number of women in July 2017 who were captured after the Battle of Mosul when Iraqi forces pushed Isis out of Iraq’s second city.

She now faces hanging but can still appeal her sentence, Mr Bayrkdar said.

Iraqi forces have detained a number of foreign women after they drove Isis from its former territory in northern and central Iraq. 

It is estimated that over 27,000 foreign fighters, including 6,000 Europeans, have travelled to Iraq and Syria since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011 but not all of them have joined Isis, according to data published by the Soufran Group.

A Russian Isis fighter was sentenced to death in Iraq last year for joining the hardline group.

Meanwhile one of those in prison awaiting trial is German teenager Linda Wenzel who ran away to Syria when she was just 15 years old. 

Wenzel also faces the death penalty if convicted of aiding Isis. Iraqi authorities say she admitted to working as a sniper during the battle but Wenzel claims she was mostly kept as a domestic servant.

Iraq declared victory last month over Isis, which had seized control of nearly a third of the country in 2014. However, the terror group continues to carry out bombings and other attacks in the country.

Additional reporting by agencies​

Independent

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Middle East

France Calls for Urgent UNSC Meeting Over the Turkish Attack on Afrin

- 6d35699da25d5ed17995fd336cb43987 L - France Calls for Urgent UNSC Meeting Over the Turkish Attack on Afrin


ERBIL — French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed that his country has called for an urgent United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the ongoing Turkish military incursion into the Kurdish-held Syrian Canton of Afrin.

“France has requested an urgent meeting of UN Security Council,” Le Drian said on his Twitter account.

He urged those involved in the conflict to stop the fire immediately and open the path for humanitarian aid to reach the affected area.

French foreign minister talked to his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier, following which he said in an official statement that Ankara is urged to restraint and end any action which could further deteriorate the humanitarian situation in Syria.

“France is attentive to the security of Turkey, its territory and borders. Paris calls on the Turkish authorities to exercise restraint in the complicated context of a humanitarian situation in several Syrian regions in view of military activities of Damascus and its allies,” reads the statement.

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Middle East

YPG Repels Turkish Ground Attack Near Afrin

- 483e465d9a269f55d26c3cdda3226147 L - YPG Repels Turkish Ground Attack Near Afrin


ERBIL — The US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Sunday repelled the first Turkish ground offensive on Bulbul district of Afrin Canton.

The Turkish troops, accompanied by heavy arms and tanks, were marching towards the territories of  Balia village when faced fierce resistance from the YPG fighters, said Hawar news agency (ANHA).

Many Turkish artillery and heavy arms are said to have been forced to retreat while there remains some attacking troops, according to the same source.

 

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