Qaddura Fares: many things are not clear about the pending prisoner release

A slightly different version of this story appeared earlier today on +972 Magazine, here.

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“No, I am not satisfied”, said Qaddoura Fares, crisply, commenting on the Israeli Cabinet vote Sunday — after hours of debate and delay for persuasion of the unconvinced —  to release 104 Palestinian prisoners.

Qaddura Fares photo from Ramallah press conference posted on Israel Radio website - interviewed 28 July 2013
Qaddura Fares photo from Ramallah press conference posted on Israel Radio website - interviewed 28 July 2013

That vote led immediately to a formal invitation from the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to both Israeli and Palestinian negotiations to come to dinner in Washington the very next day, for 1st direct meetings [since January 2012].  The State Dept officially announced resumption of “direct final-status negotiations”, and on Monday Pres Obama welcomed the arrival of Israeli + Palestinian representatives to “formally resume direct final status negotiations”,

Qaddoura, a Fatah leader [who, years ago, was a member of what was then-known as “Young Fatah”] spent many years of his youth in Israeli jails, and is now head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club in Ramallah, which works to help Palestinians being tried in Israeli courts — most often, military — and held in Israeli jails.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had given Kerry a list of the 104 longest-held Palestinian prisoners, and Kerry sent that Palestinian list to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.  Kerry reportedly pressed for their release, and pinched hard when Netanyahu tried to strike off Palestinians who are either Israeli citizens or Permanent Residents of East Jerusalem.  Over the weekend, Netanyahu relented but said he would put the matter to a Cabinet vote on Sunday.

Netanyahu said in a statement published on Facebook on Saturday that “heads of state are at times required to make decisions that go against public opinion when matter of national import is at stake”.

But Netanyahu didn’t want to shoulder this responsibility alone, and said he would submit the matter to a vote in the regular meeting of his Cabinet on Sunday.

He also said the release would happen during the negotiations, not before — and he said it would stop if the Palestinians did not behave well.

Then, Netanyahu started making phone calls to try and get  support for the cabinet vote on the prisoner release…

Israeli government officials said that if Mahmoud Abbas could ask for the release of Palestinians with full Israeli citizenship,  this would imply that the PLO, and not Israel, is responsible for these men.

So, did the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday make the decision that the Palestinians awaited, and the Americans pressed for?  It’s not entirely clear.

Continue reading “Qaddura Fares: many things are not clear about the pending prisoner release”

Administrative Detention order for Hussam Khader renewed for another 6 months — UPDATED

Late Thursday, the Israeli military’s Administrative Detention order against Hussam Khader, a Fatah activist from the Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus, was renewed for 6 months, following his appeal to the Israeli High Court of Justice the day before. Perhaps more significantly, it comes after the 15 May agreement between Israel and Palestinian prisoners that was understood to have included a decision that current Administrative Detention orders would not be extended.

Despite his appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday, filed on his behalf by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners’ Society/Club, and his own personal statement made in the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Hussam Khader was informed late Thursday that his Administrative Detention will not end on 2 June, as he had hoped.

On Friday, Khader’s lawyer, Attorney Jawad Bulous, confirmed by phone the six-month renewal of the Administrative Detention order, but said he could not give more details because he was on the other line.

    UPDATE: On Saturday evening, Mr. Bulous explained that the Israeli Attorney General had told him, during Hussam Khader’s Court hearing on Wednesday, that the State of Israel wanted Hussam Khader’s Administrative Detention extended for another six months — but would not be requesting a renewal after that. In the Supreme Court’s ruling, the judges noted this position of the State in their rejection of the appeal.

    Mr. Bulous said that this has led him, and the Palestinian Prisoners Society/Club to conclude that it is necessary to report this matter to the Egyptian mediator who was involved in the May 15 prisoners’ agreement, and to inform the Egyptian mediator that Israel is not abiding by the terms agreed on ending the current terms of Administrative Detention for those 322 [or 308s ] Palestinian prisoner now in Israeli jails.

    “Israel is totally behaving as if nothing was reached by the Egyptian mediator”, Mr. Bulous said. “I’m afraid they are not abiding with the general decision we had with the Egyptians”.

    Mr Bulous noted that in two other appeals of current Administrative Detainees he took to Israel’s High Court, those of Jaafar Azzedine and of Mahmoud Ramahi, the Israeli State Attorney told the Court that there the current Administrative Detention orders of these two men, which expire in July, would not be extended.

This seems to go against the sense of the Court in its other recent decisions on Administrative Detention. And it raises a real question: What purpose can it serve for the State of Israel to tell the Court that it needs to keep Hussam Khader in Israeli jail for another six month’s term of Administrative Detention? Why did the Supreme Court just say OK? Is it OK that this next six-month’s order will be the end of it, and Hussam Khader will be released by the end of 2012? This action seems to confirm the impression that the request emanates from political echelons, for political purposes — while the Court has indicated that security reasons [only] can justify such a drastic measure.

Hussam Khader’s appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court was heard by a panel of judges headed by Justice Elyakim Rubenstein, who had also heard — and rejected — the appeals on 3 May of Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab, who were on the 70th day or so of hunger strikes against their Administrative Detention orders.

In his appearance for his appeal at the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Hussam Khader called on the Court to release him, according to Attorney Bulous, because the Administrative Detention orders were “illegal, brutal, and had no justification”.

    The BBC reported on 7 May that:
    “In his decision, Judge Elyakim Rubinstein expressed concern over their deteriorating condition, and referred the military authorities to a legal clause which could allow their release on medical grounds, AFP reported … Judge Rubinstein said that although the practice of administrative detention caused him ‘great discontent’, it was ‘necessary when the material regarding the petitioner is intelligence material, the exposure of which would harm its conveyor or the methods in which it was obtained’ … Such detainees’ cases could be examined by ‘a jurist acceptable to the detainees, who would receive the sufficient security approval… [and] who could examine the material on their behalf’, he added”. This BBC story is published here.

Hussam Khader was taken from his house in a raid on 2 June 2011, and was sentenced to a term of six months Administrative Detention, in which exact charges and evidence are kept secret from the detainee as well as his lawyer, so no defense is possible.

The generic charges which are always made to justify Administrative Detention are: “posing a threat to public security and safety”.

In Hussam Khader’s case, there seems to be some suggestion that he is a member or supporter of Hamas — though he is a well-known leader in Fatah.

The accusation is very strange. After earlier being banned from travel after his previous release from Israeli jail in September 2008 [a year ahead of time, on “good behavior”], he was a delegate at the 6th Fatah General Conference in Bethlehem in August 2009. He clashed in an opening session with Palesinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, and also lost in his bid for a seat on the Fateh Central Council. He then publicly backed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and later tried to repair his relations with Abbas.

Sometime in 2010, Khader was suddenly allowed to travel, and he went to Lebanon and then to Damascus to attend conferences. There, in the context of national reconciliation efforts, he met with Hamas figures, including Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

Apparently, Hussam Khader had informed Mahmoud Abbas about this in advance, and had Abbas’s blessing in the contacts — to the extent that he apparently felt that he was acting as Abbas’ representative.

These contacts were not conducted in secret, but were discussed with a number of people, including journalists who reported them in Arabic-language media.

Since his Administrative Detention order last June, Hussam Khader has been jailed in Megiddo Prison in Israel’s Galilee, just outside the northern edge of the West Bank.

In December 2011, the Administrative Detention order against Hussam Khader was extended for another six months. Upon appeal submitted by Attorney Jawad Bulous, who is under retainer to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, the six-month extension was reduced to three months.

Then, in February, the three-month term was extended for another three months — making it, as originally ordered, a second six-month term. This is part of what Palestinians say is the emotionally-destructively capricious cruelty of Administrative Detention, which is viewed with horror as one of the worst possible punishments of the military occupation.

After the agreement reached on 17 May to end the hunger strikes being carried out by Palestinian prisoners, it was reported that part of the agreement entailed a decision not to extend the existing Administrative Detention orders against any of the current 308 Palestinian detainees — unless there were “serious matters” contained in the secret files compiled by Israeli intelligence against them.

During the past week or so, there have been a series of scattered reports that current Administrative Detention orders were being extended.

    On 16 May, Ma’an News Agency reported that:
    “Prisoners society official Qaddura Fares told Ma’an the document outlines the core issues, while further details will be agreed in talks between prisoners representatives and the Israeli authorities. The agreement is a ‘successful victory’, he said, while warning that it is ‘not clear enough’ on the issue of detention without charge … Meanwhile, Israel committed not to renew the administrative detention of all 322 [n.b. other sources than Ma’an report the number as 308] Palestinians held without charge if there is no new information that requires their imprisonment, he noted. However, Fares warned: ‘Who can check this new information? … no one can be sure’.” This Ma’an News Agency story is posted here.

That is, no one can be sure if it is solid information from real sources — or if it is concocted reports of persons who might be intent on getting revenge against the accused for one reason or another.

There are many Palestinians who believe, simply, that people like Hussam Khader are being jailed with the assent, if not the active complicity, of officials in the Palestinian Authority who want them off the streets so they cannot run as candidates if and when the next elections are held in the Palestinian territory.

Continue reading “Administrative Detention order for Hussam Khader renewed for another 6 months — UPDATED”

Fatah prisoners in Israeli jails acknowledge Abbas' decision not to contest next elections

Fatah activist Qaddura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club (a support group), said today in Ramallah that he had received a communication from the Fatah prisoners in Israeli jails in which they acknowledge the recent announcement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) not to run in the next elections.

Abbas himself made the official announcement, on 24 October (starting the clock on the required three-month time limit), decreeing that presidential and parliamentary elections would take place 24 January. Then, on 5 November, he announced he would not run.

Then, last week, Abbas endorsed the announcement by the Palestinian Election Commission that, with the current situation in Gaza being what it is, it would not be possible to hold elections on the specified date.

[The Associated Press reported today, here, that “The Election Commission said Friday it would meet in December to set a new date”.]

Qaddura Fares said that the prisoners suggested that as long as Abbas is still in office, he should devote at least part of his time to continuing to look for a way out of the current difficulties facing the Palestinian leadership and people.

“We do not elect leaders to serve only in good times, or when things are going well”, Qaddura Fares said. “They must also be leaders in bad times, and when thing are not going so well”.

He said that it was good that the President had finally recognized that years of negotiations with Israel had lead nowhere, but it was now important to help the people know what to do next.

Asked who had put up the two enormous posters of Abbas on Irsal street — where Abu Mazen could not fail to see them at least twice a day when he is in Ramallah, on the way to and from his office in the Presidential Compound, the Muqata’a — Fares at first said that he did not know. Then he indicated that he believed people around Abbas were responsible.

[On Abbas’ birthday last July, witnesses saw uniformed security officers putting up smaller posters of Abu Mazen all over town. They were torn down shortly later, on Abbas’ orders — what has changed now?]

What have we come to, Fares asked, when the Mukhabarat (intelligence service) that is supposed to be protecting the nation, is instead spending hundreds of thousands of shekels on the posters and on busses bringing Palestinians from far corners of the West Bank into the Muqata’a last week to ask Abbas to stay in his job, during the ceremony commemorating the fifth anniversary of Arafat’s death. Fares said he did not attend.

“We used to think we were democratic, a democracy”, Abbas said. “Now, we’re becoming just like all the Arab regimes” — making a cult of the leader.

He added, “We have a saying in Arabic: a man who hates cannot be a leader. A leader must be tolerant”.

Asked about media reports about a massive prisoner release as part of an exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Qaddura Fares said, “I don’t know that it will happen by next Friday (27th February). But it will happen by the end of the year”. He said that the negotiations had made good progress, after the Israelis had tried everything else, without success — including last winter’s military operation against Gaza, attempts to capture Hamas leaders to use as hostages to leverage an exchange, attempts to improve their intelligence about where Shalit is being held and more.

Asked about reports that the U.S. had put big pressure on Israel to agree on the exchange deal, Qaddura Fares said he had not heard any such thing.

Separately, AP reported that “Hamas announced Saturday evening that it has reached an agreement with other militant groups in Gaza to stop firing rockets at southern Israeli towns to prevent retaliatory attacks”. Other reports indicated that the agreement in Gaza specified that rockets would only be fired in response to Israeli military attacks. AP noted that “Hamas has mostly refrained from firing rockets since January when Israel ended a three week offensive in Gaza aimed at stopping almost daily militant attacks. Other Gaza militant groups have since continued with rocket attacks, but on a much smaller scale than before … Hamas interior minister Fathi Hamad told reporters Saturday evening that all militant factions had now agreed to a cease fire. He said the agreement was designed to prevent Israeli retaliation attacks and provide stability for Gaza residents. The cease fire would make it easier for Gaza residents to rebuild infrastructure destroyed in last winter’s fighting, he said. A rocket launched from Gaza exploded in southern Israel Saturday morning causing no injuries”. This AP report can be read in full here.

New Fatah leadership – results leaking, not announced

As far as I can tell — and I took the trouble to come again to Bethlehem and even to stay overnight, and though I have made and received at least a dozen phone calls this morning — here has not yet been an official announcement for results of who won seats in the Fatah General Conference voting for either the “new” Central Committee or the “new” Revolutionary Council.

However, there have been indications that the results were tallied hours ago, perhaps soon after midnight for the 18 seats up for election in the Central Committee, and perhaps by early this morning for the 80 seats on the Revolutionary Council.

Of course, what this means is that the Palestinian and Arab media have published various lists of supposedly winning names which are said to be NOT FINAL.

However, it appears clear that nobody who opposed The Machine won.

And two of the winners are Mohammad Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub, two former leaders of Fatah/Palestinian Preventive Security (Dahlan in Gaza and Rajoub in the West Bank), who have an intense rivalry.

Ahmad Qureia (Abu Alaa’), who headed the Palestinian negotiations team during the Annapolis Process, and who, like President and Party leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), was one of the key negotiators during the secret negotiations that led up to the Oslo process in the early 1990s, was not on the list that was read to me at breakfast time.

Also not elected, according to my source, are Qaddura Fares, Hussam Khader (who said he knew he would not win, but ran anyway — and one Fatah operative told me that he saw Hussam Qader’s name on many of the unofficial lists that were circulating before the vote, so he had a good chance), and Sari Nusseibeh (for whom this candidacy appears to have been a political come-back and a political rehabiiltation, and he can now come back in from the cold. Nusseibeh was interviewed for an hour on Palestine TV last night, and none of his red lines were crossed, he was not personally attacked. Nusseibeh did say that this sixth Fatah General Conferene or Congress shows that neither the Americans nor the Europeans have anything to teach the Palestinians about democracy.

Among the other reported winners are Salim Zaanoun, Abu Maher – Mohammed Ghneim, Tawfik at-Tirawi, Hussein ash-Sheikh, and Othman Abu Gharbiya, Nabil Shaath, Saeb Erekat, Nasser Qudwa, Mohammed Shtayyah. Then, Sultan Abu Al- Eineen, Jamal Mheisen, Mohammed a-Madani, Mahmoud al-Aloul.

UPDATE: Apparently, our earlier report that Tayib Abdel Rahim was one of the 18 winning candidates was wrong. I am told he came in 19th. I am also told that the names of the other two winning names that were not available to me earlier are: Azzam al-Ahmad and Abbas Zaki, the official PLO representative in Lebanon. We are also told that President Abbas has sent out the word that the results are NOT FINAL.

And of course, another winner was the highest-profile Palestinian political prisoner, Marwan Barghouthi, currently serving several life sentences in an Israeli prison for leading the Fatah Tanzim during the second intifada — but who even some Israeli ministers would like to see freed. He was on all the (unofficial) lists. “It would be a shame if Marwan didn’t win”, one Fatah source said during the voting.

The interesting question now will be, what will Abu Mazen do with the four seats that he has been authorized to nominate (he has to then get the approval of two-thirds of the new Central Committee, and two-thirds of the new Revolutionary Council), to officially appoint these nominees. I am willing to bet that three of the four appointees will be: Abu Alaa’, Farouk Kaddoumi, and Sari Nusseibeh.

The Revolutionary Council results will not be ready until later today, I was told. But I noticed one person being told who (probably himself) won the 17th place out of 641 candidates.

Qaddura Fares: No decision yet on Leonard Cohen in Ramallah

Qaddura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, and “Young Guard” Fateh leader, said this morning in a brief phone conversation that there is no decision yet on the Leonard Cohen concert in Ramallah.

“We decided [that there would be] at least a freeze on this issue. We will wait until after the Fateh conference”, Fares said.

This means that the issue got too big and too hot to tackle at the moment.

The long-delayed and much-anticipated Fateh conference is now scheduled for 4 August in Bethlehem.

Continue reading “Qaddura Fares: No decision yet on Leonard Cohen in Ramallah”

Boycott Cellcom (not Leonard Cohen)

Boycotts are in the air — billed as a peaceful alternative to war and conflict of all sorts. The definitive worth of the tactic is debatable — and in some circles it is being debated. Naomi Klein recently visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory [West Bank + Gazayes, the Israeli military allowed her visit Gaza] despite her support of an/the economic and cultural boycott of Israel to promote the publication of her latest book in Hebrew.

In an interview with Haaretz, Klein explained, basically, that she would not have come if the boycott committee had asked her not to.

The Haaretz article said that Klein and her publisher “carefully planned Klein’s itinerary in Israel to avoid the impression that she supports institutions connected to the State of Israel and the Israeli economy. ‘It certainly would have been a lot easier not to have come to Israel, and I wouldn’t have come had the Palestinian Boycott National Committee asked me not to’, said Klein in an interview before her arrival, at her Toronto home. ‘But I went to them with a proposal for the way I wanted to visit Israel and they were very open to it. It is important to me not to boycott Israelis but rather to boycott the normalization of Israel and the conflict’.”

She then gave several hair-splitting justifications about her visit to Israel, but was at the same time critical of the Israeli and pro-Israeli boycott of the UN’s Durban Two follow-up conference against racism held in Geneva not too long ago.

The Haaretz article quickly gets bored of the boycott issue, and veers into other areas, and can be read in full here .

In a conversation this afternoon a propos the demand from various quarters that Leonard Cohen  cancel his performance in Tel Aviv [apparently still scheduled for 24 September], an Israeli friend and admirable activist said to me that there is actually not a boycott of Israel at the moment.

But there is.  It is understandable that somebody could be confused, especially because there seems to be several different boycotts, and several different boycott committees, and the whole thing is unclear.

In any case, it was reported today by PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel [apparently launched in Ramallah in April 2004] that “We are now pleased to announce that we have received confirmation from the Palestinian Prisoners‘ Club Society that they will not be hosting Leonard Cohen in Ramallah. A strong consensus has emerged among all parties concerned that Cohen is not welcome in Ramallah as long as he insists on performing in Tel Aviv, even though it had been claimed that Cohen would dedicate his concert in Palestine to the cause of Palestinian prisoners. Ramallah will not receive Cohen as long as he is intent on whitewashing Israel‘s colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel. PACBI has always rejected any attempt to ‘balance’ concerts or other artistic events in Israel–conscious acts of complicity in Israel‘s violation of international law and human rights–with token events in the occupied Palestinian territory”.

We reported on the Leonard Cohen dilemma earlier here. In that earlier post, we mentioned that the decision was put into the hands of Fatah “Young Guard” leader Qaddura Fares, who is head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club Society, and who told us that “his suggestion was that Leonard Cohen should come if he would agree to sing for the release of Palestinian prisoners (there are over 11,000 of them, including several hundred children) — and for the release of the Israeli soldier who is believed to be still held captive somewhere in Gaza, Corporal Gilad Shalit. ‘Yes, why not?’, Qaddura Fares said, and smiled. ‘All of them are prisoners, and they have the right to be free …. Maybe if he [Leonard Cohen] comes for such a sensitive issue, it will be useful for Palestinians and for Israelis”.

A call to Qaddura Fares for confirmation this evening went unanswered.

In an informal poll I’ve been conducting in Ramallah the last two days, I didn’t find any Palestinian who knew who Leonard Cohen was.

On the other side of the coin, I have been wondering who would brief Leonard Cohen about what he would encounter on the other side — that is, in Ramallah — should he actually perform there. If he allowed himself to be booked into Tel Aviv without realizing that there might be a reaction, and without apparently thinking very much about the Palestinians penned into the West Bank (and Gaza), what would it take to brief Leonard Cohen about this alternate reality [which Haaretz’s Gideon Levy aptly calls the “Twilight Zone”]? Would Leonard Cohen know how reach out to the Ramallah audience?

It’s not clear that the last act of this boycott drama has played out yet, but today’s PACBI statement argued that “Those sincerely interested in defending Palestinian rights and taking a moral and courageous stance against the Israeli occupation and apartheid should not play Israel, period. That is the minimum form of solidarity Palestinian civil society has called for. We feel that this is an occasion to reaffirm our position first articulated two years ago in relation to visits to the occupied Palestinian territory by artists, performers, and academics who wish to show solidarity with Palestinians while primarily coming to Israel to perform or participate in academic or artistic activities. As we noted then, Palestinians have always warmly welcomed solidarity visits by international visitors; however, most Palestinians firmly believe that such solidarity visits should not be used as an occasion to organize performances, film screenings or exhibits in mainstream Israeli venues or to give lectures at Israeli universities; collaborate in any way with Israeli political, cultural or academic institutions; or participate in activities sponsored or supported — directly or indirectly — by the Israeli government or any of its agencies”. This statement is published in full here ,

The boycott success story par excellence is supposed to be South Africa — though there was as much evasion as compliance [including certain well-connected Palestinians, with connections all the way to the top, who had fun and helped finance the revolution by selling oil from countries in the Persian Gulf to South Africa, avoiding the boycott by changing the flag of the tanker ship while at sea, or substituting new bills of lading, or new ports of destination… ]

And if we’re going to talk about sanctions, did either Saddam Hussein or Hamas “change their stripes” after heavy-hitting international sanctions? (Even more importantly, did those sanctions avert war?)

However, a new Israeli Cellcom that nonchalantly uses The Wall as a prop, and just-fun-loving Israeli soldiers and Border Police-persons as the actors, is so extraordinarily insensitive that it merits a boycott call.

Adam Horowitz has an unsettling post on Mondoweiss here contrasting what we see in the Cellcom ad with how Israeli soldiers and Border Police usually behave at The Wall [even when it is a fence as it is in Bil’in and Nil’in].

CORRECTION: The video referred to just above was of Friday’s demonstration in Ni’lin, not Bil’in.

The video of Friday’s demonstration in Nil’in in the Mondoweiss post is particularly creepy because it shows that at least ten undercover Israeli agents were pretending to participate as demonstrators, before they revealed themselves as uniformed Israeli forces rushed through the hole that had been cut in the fence to seize two of the Palestinian demonstrators and carry them off in army vehicles. Was this the first time that this Trojan-Horse tactic has been used at these weekly demonstrations in the two villages about 20 minutes drive east of Ramallah? 

(One savvy Palestinian commentator said last evening that these weekly demonstrations had done much more to explain and advance the Palestinian position than the current Palestinian government).

The Cellcom ad is posted here on Youtube  (as are videos of the Bil’in and Nil’in demonstrations).

It seems that the ad agency that produced this Cellcom ad did not use the real Wall, but built a set with a small section of identical 9-meter-high concrete slabs. What shows it’s not the real thing? First of all, section in this set ends abruptly, instead of extending as far as the eye can see (in later shots, an extension seems to be Photoshopped into the film). Secondly, the “soldiers” in the ad are patrolling next to an area decorated with grafitti. In reality, most of the graffiti is on the Palestinian side of the Wall, while the side that the Israelis usually patrol is much more bare concrete (in the Jerusalem area there is some graffiti on both sides, but the Palestinian side is definitely much more decorated).

The Wall is a Wall in residential areas, which is not what is shown in the ad. In a rural or uninhabited area, The Wall becomes a fence.

And, all those high kicks over what the ad calls a 10-meter-high wall are not so credible, either.

The English-language Israeli-centered blogosphere is going wild on this Cellcom ad — here and here, with excellent comments from a journalist for Maariv; as well as here and here.

Anyway, why arent’t we hearing immediate calls for a boycott of Cellcom (Israeli cellcom mobile phone numbers begin with 052, or, from abroad, 972 52 …). There are plenty of Palestinians (and radically progressive Israelis) who have Cellcom sim cards or subscriptions, so there could be a real impact in boycotting Cellcom until this truly offensive ad is pulled, and The Wall is torn down — and why not until the Israeli occupation is ended, as well.

And, why not also boycott the advertising agency too (McCann Erickson) — until it Repents? At the very least, it should take its account executives, and art directors, and other creative types out on a tour of The Wall and some of the most infamous (and still there) Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank. They should also be called on to replace this lousy ad with a public service announcement discussing the real impact of The Wall on the lives of millions — yes, millions — of Palestinians, and debunking the self-serving myth that The Wall [still open in many areas, so any determined attackers could easily get through if they wanted] has stopped suicide attacks within Israel.

So, boycott Cellcom!

Or, is it that boycotts are only as good as they are convenient, and the minute they start really pinching, we’ll start hair-splitting and justifying why and how we are not obliged to comply, though we really do support their goals — we really, really do.