Cartoonists urge Angoulême to drop Sodastream

Dozens of well known cartoonists, including Joe Sacco, Tardi and Baru have signed an open lettre urging the Angoulême Comics Festival to drop Sodastream as a sponsor:

We, cartoonists, illustrators and authors from all countries, are surprised, disappointed and angry to find out that SodaStream is an official sponsor of the Angoulême International Comics Festival.

As you must know, SodaStream is the target of an international boycott call for its contribution to the colonization of Palestinian land, due to its factory in the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, its exploitation of Palestinian workers, and its theft of Palestinian resources, in violation of international law and contravening international principles of human rights.

Angoulême has had an important role in the appreciation of comics as an art form for over 40 years. It would be sad if SodaStream were able to use this event to whitewash their crimes.

We ask you to cut all ties between the Festival and this shameful company.


This fight against Sodastream, for having established a plant in a Israeli settlement on stolen Palestian land in the West Bank, a plant Sodastream itself has admitted was a mistake, is just one small battle in the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) struggle against the Israeli Apartheid State. It’s similar in fact to that long struggle against South African Apartheid in the seventies and eighties and hopefully it can lead to similar results. Certainly the Israeli government fears the movement:

The movement’s economic impact is also becoming evident. The recent decision by the $200 billion Dutch pension fund PGGM to divest from the five largest Israeli banks because of their involvement in occupied Palestinian territory has sent shock waves through the Israeli establishment.

To underscore the “existential” danger that B.D.S. poses, Israel and its lobby groups often invoke the smear of anti-Semitism, despite the unequivocal, consistent position of the movement against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. This unfounded allegation is intended to intimidate into silence those who criticize Israel and to conflate such criticism with anti-Jewish racism.

Getting Angoulême to drop Sodastream sponsorship, though welcome, is of course not going to change Israeli policies but seeing conservative pension funds start to drop Israeli investments, as much out of conviction as for legal concerns, that’s a game changer.

Footballers against Israeli apartheid

The 2014 under-21 European Championships are supposed to be held in Israel, which is a bit awkward considering it just destroyed a football stadium as a novel new way of expressing its displeasure with the Palestinians. Sport, like art, is of course important to the well being of any peoples and it’s no wonder then that Israel regularly targets both.

To their considerable credit, more than sixty European professional footballers have protested against these acts and urged UEFA to withdrawn the competition from Israel:

We, as European football players, express our solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom. The latest Israeli bombardment of Gaza, resulting in the death of over a hundred civilians, was yet another stain on the world’s conscience.

We are informed that on 10 November 2012 the Israeli army bombed a sports stadium in Gaza, resulting in the death of four young people playing football, Mohamed Harara and Ahmed Harara, 16 and 17 years old; Matar Rahman and Ahmed Al Dirdissawi, 18 years old.

We are also informed that since February 2012 two footballers with the club Al Amari, Omar Rowis, 23, and Mohammed Nemer, 22, have been detained in Israel without charge or trial.

It is unacceptable that children are killed while they play football. Israel hosting the UEFA Under-21 European Championship, in these circumstances, will be seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values.

Despite the recent ceasefire, Palestinians are still forced to endure a desperate existence under occupation, they must be protected by the international community. All people have the right to a life of dignity, freedom and security. We hope that a just settlement will finally emerge.

Well done.

We didn’t start the fire

No more mister nice guy

The London Review of Books looks at the context in which the new Israeli attack on Gaza is taken place:

Electoral considerations are likely to have played a role in Israeli decision-making, but hardly driven them. Both Netanyahu and his defence minister, Ehud Barak, had been smarting since March from a previous Egyptian-mediated ceasefire, according to which they informally agreed not only to stop attacking the Gaza Strip but also to discontinue assassinations. An Islamic Jihad leader I interviewed at the time reckoned this was a climbdown too far for Israel’s leaders and they were bound to renew hostilities sooner rather than later.

Pummelling Gaza yet again was intended to remind all concerned – not least the new Egypt – who makes the rules, though it would also reassure the Israeli electorate they need not fear the prospect of Obama punishing Israel for Netanyahu’s embrace of the Romney/Adelson ticket. As expected, the Obama White House has reiterated its commitment to Israel, and Congress has been busy passing unanimous resolutions supporting Israel’s right to self-defence in its colonial possessions. The positions of most European states have been only marginally less obscene.

One of the eternal failures of the news media is their ahistorical approach to the Israeli apartheid state: news coverage only begins when Israelis are victims and anything that comes before it is ignored.

Howard Jacobson’s pathological need to be persecuted

There’s a disease that strikes English novelists of a certain age and fame, that makes them think whatever small talent they have at creating Times reviewed stories means they have an unique insight into human nature and the political realities of 21st century Britain. This usually manifest in rightwing babble about the problems of the day, as exclusively revealed to whichever newspaper with spare column inches to fill, as well as through novels that suddenly tackle big political issues in the way literary writers normally reserve for dabbling in science fiction: naively and ploddingly reinventing cliches better writers had long since abandoned and being proud of it. Martin Amis and Ian McEwan are the best examples of this disease, but Howard Jacobson seems determined to join them.

Jacobson is “best known for writing comic novels that often revolve around the dilemmas of British Jewish characters” as Wikipedia puts it. Not one to hide his Jewishness under a bushell and keen to let you know how his background makes him uniquely able to provide insights into the Israel/Palestinian conflict, he has been making a nuisance of himself for years in opinion pieces. As with Amis and McEwan, his politics also infected his fiction, metastasising in The Finkler Question, made unreadable by his politics.

So it comes as no surprise that when he saw the images of Asian shopkeepers defending their communities against the riots in London two weeks ago he saw something quite different from the rest of us:

The good thing that came out of the riots was a renewed sense of community. “How does one put this without sounding gross … it was terrific to see the Asian communities on telly and not to have to think about terrorism, and not to have to think about the thing I’m always thinking about… do they want to kill Jews?”

A remark on par with Amis’ similar ones on wanting to make Muslims suffer for 9/11. But there seems to be more going on with Jacobson, he seems convinced that pogroms could break out in London any minute and that like any good Jew he needs to be prepared. It’s not a mindset that’s not unique to him; I’ve stopped being surprised at the number of middleclass Jewish people living in England or America, never having suffered any discrimination in their lifetimes, convinced that it’s only a matter of time before the killings start again. If the most important event in your history is the Holocaust, it’s not surprising some people get a bit paranoid.

With Jacobson however it almost seems as if he would welcome persecution, that he feels agrieved that there are no pogroms in England and the number of real anti-semitic incidents (as opposed to people being accused of anti-semitism because they disagree with Israeli policies) is low and has remained low for decades. Hence remarks like the above, as to him it’s inconcievable that Asian people would not want to oppress him. Call it victim envy.

It reads better in the original German

Palestinian but pretending to be Jewish to score with a Hebrew chick? In Israel you’re guilty of rape if she finds out the truth after you had sex:

Segal said: “The court is obliged to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price – the sanctity of their bodies and souls. When the very basis of trust between human beings drops, especially when the matters at hand are so intimate, sensitive and fateful, the court is required to stand firmly at the side of the victims – actual and potential – to protect their wellbeing. Otherwise, they will be used, manipulated and misled, while paying only a tolerable and symbolic price.”

UPDATE: Lenny has more:

The woman who filed the charge can hardly be burdened with most of the responsibility. Who knows what pressures she was under? Perhaps no pressures other than the racist ideology that she will have internalised if she is a normal product of the Israeli education system. But perhaps it was put to her that her honour as an Israeli Jewish woman, and that of her family, had been sullied by her treasonous intercourse with an Arab from East Jerusalem and that, if she wished to expiate her crime, she should say that she had been raped. Whatever the case, without the backing of the forces of racist patriarchy her complaint would not have resulted in a conviction. It’s not as if it’s easy for women to get their complaint heard and a conviction obtained when a rape really has occurred. It’s not as if the criminal justice system throws its weight behind women every time they experience domestic violence, harrassment, or sexual violation. This was a complaint that, with its obvious paucity of evidence of any kind of violation or assault, could easily have been dealt with outside of the courts. Instead, they devoted their considerable resources to keeping this man in lockdown – he was under house arrest for almost two years while the case was brought to trial – and so loading the scales against him that even when no evidence of rape emerged, he still ended up ‘guilty’.