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Monday, 10 March 2014

Who really is the villain?!

According to a report in The Telegraph newspaper, Amnesty International have accused Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad of having committed war crimes by deliberately starving civilian inhabitants of a Palestinian refugee camp during the bloody three-year civil war.   The human rights group also accuses security forces of targeting doctors and medics while, at the same, it charges rebel groups of looting vital medical equipment in the sprawling Yarmouk camp, in the south-side of Damascus, the Syrian capital.

At the same time, BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is an almost ten-years-old global campaign which uses economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the stated goals of the movement: The end of Israeli 'occupation' and colonization of Arab land; full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

So, what is the connection?  The BDS movement came to the attention of many only recently when the actress, Scarlett Johansson broke ties with Oxfam because of “fundamental differences” between her and the NGO (non-governmental organisation) on the issue of Israel boycotts.  The full story is too long for a blog post, but the gist of it is that the actress supported SodaStream - whose factory is built on 'disputed' land; while Oxfam supports the aims of the BDS. 

Of course, the truth of the matter is that the Palestinian  employees of SodaStream have equal rights with the Israeli employees, and are better paid, and have better working conditions, than their fellow-Palestinians who work within Palestine.

It is also an incontrovertible fact that Israeli Defence Force soldiers are treating wounded Syrians, and provide emergency treatment to injured, and ill, Palestinians; and that Israeli hospitals are open to Palestinians who require some of the finest medical treatment in the world.

As one person has tweeted: "Syrians starve Palestinians but Israelis save Syrian and Palestinians lives. Who do we boycott?"

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