Palestinians begin to express opposition as OECD tourism meeting opens in Jerusalem

Palestinians have started to express objections and opposition to an OECD meeting that opened yesterday in Jerusalem — after months of public announcements and preparations.

The OECD – Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – is a Paris-based international organization grouping economically-developed countries who are also considered “democracies”.

A public meeting has been called in Ramallah this afternoon to discuss the international law aspects of the meeting.

The decision to convene the tourism conference in Jerusalem was announced in mid-June — four months ago.   It takes months and months of preparations to hold such a conference.

Why did it take the Palestinians so long to organize their response?   The conference was already in its second day when Palestinian officials called for its cancellation…

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Netanyahu tries to stop boycott

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu told his government ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that in his recent visit to the UK, he discussed the calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel because of its military occupation of Palestinian land and Palestinian lives.

Netanyahu said:  “Regarding Great Britain, what bothers me is the spreading boycott policy, both academic and economic.  I received a commitment from him [Prime Minister Brown] that he would act vigorously against this.  I also spoke – by telephone – with Leader of the Opposition David Cameron, who was on vacation, and he underscored this”.

In an interview by Cecilie Surasky conducted probably in July but just posted on 1 September, Canadian author Naomi Klein (Shock Doctrine) and Israeli publisher Yael Lerer explain that they think boycotting Israel will pressure the country to live up to international law:

Question (Surasky): You must have grappled with this idea of a cultural boycott. Many critics would say that it shuts down communication rather than opening it up. What brought you to take this step?

Klein: Well, it has to do with the fact that the Israeli government openly uses culture as a military tool. Though Israeli officials believe they are winning the actual war for land, they also feel that the country suffers because most of what the world hears about the region on the news is about the conflict: militarization, lawlessness, the occupation and Gaza. So the foreign ministry launched a campaign called ‘Israel Beyond the Conflict’, which involves using culture, film, books, the arts, tourism and academia to create all kinds of alliances between Western countries and the state of Israel, and to promote the image of a normal, happy country, rather than an aggressive occupying power. That’s why we are always hearing about film festivals and book fairs with a special ‘Israel spotlight’. And so, even though in general I would totally agree that culture is positive — books are positive and film is positive and communication is wonderful — we have to understand that we are dealing with a state strategy to co-opt all of that to make a brutal occupation more palatable.

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