Oct 13, 2010

#BDS: Protest Invitation to Show Solidarity with French BDS Activists

Show Solidarity with French BDS activists
Thursday 14 October - 12 noon to 1pm
French Consulate in Edinburgh - 11 Randolph Crescent 
(map here)

Palestine solidarity activists in France are being prosecuted for boycotting Israel. 

The French government has asked all French judges to condemn boycott actions against Israel and, encouraged by this, French Zionist associations are suing for boycott activists to be charged with "incitement to racial hatred". 

The next court case involves a member of the French Senate (Alima Boumediene-Thiery) on Thursday 14 of October.

This is clearly an attempt to stop the successful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, called by Palestinian civil society against Israel’s breaches of international and human rights law. This attack aims to silence activists and stifle what has become very effective solidarity with the Palestinian people.

As pointed out by Sheriff Scott in the case of the SPSC 5 in April, to prevent such boycott activity and criticism of Israel is a clear infringement of freedom of expression. 

Given that Israel deserves to be criticised and Palestinians deserve continued solidarity, it is important that the French government’s show trials fail in the same way that the Scottish one did. 

Defend freedom of expression and the ability to provide effective solidarity with the Palestinians. Come to the French Consulate on Thursday at 12noon. If you have a green Boycott Israel T-shirt, please wear it.

#BDS: OECD threatens to cancel J'lem conference over minister's remarks

Secretary-General of prestigious group sends letter implying conference scheduled to take place in Jerusalem in late October may be canceled over Tourism Minister Misezhnikov's statements that gathering constitutes recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

The Organization of Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) is threatening to cancel a conference scheduled to take place in Jerusalem in late October, Ynet learned.

A letter sent by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria implied that statements made by Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov suggesting that by holding the conference in Jerusalem the group recognizes the city as Israel's capital may jeorpordise the meeting.  

"In order to go forward with this meeting on the current basis, the Tourism minister should correct the misperceptions created and put the meeting in its proper perspective," the letter stated.

Gurria was referring to statements made by Misezhnikov in an interview with Haaretz in which he claimed that a gathering in Israel under OECD auspices "constitutes a declaration of intent and a seal of approval on the fact that we have a state whose recognized capital is Jerusalem."

#BDS: Palestine: BDS movement recalls anti-apartheid tactics, responsibilities and controversies

October 13, 2010 -- On a full-day drive through the Jordan Valley late last month, we skirted the Earth’s oldest city and lowest inhabited point, 400 metres below sea level. For 10,000 years, people have lived along the river that separates the present-day West Bank and Jordan.
Since 1967 the river has been augmented by Palestinian blood, sweat and tears, ending in the Dead Sea, from which no water flows; it only evaporates. Conditions degenerated during Israel’s land-grab, when from a peak of more than 300,000 people living on the west side of the river, displacements shoved Palestinian refugees across into Jordan and other parts of the West Bank. The valley has fewer than 60,000 Palestinians today.
But they’re hanging in. “To exist is to resist”, insisted Fathi Ikdeirat, the Save the Jordan Valley (http://www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org) network’s most visible advocate (and compiler of an exquisite new book of the same name, free for internet download at http://www.maan-ctr.org/pdfs/exit.pdf). At top speed on the bumpy dirt roads, Ikdeirat maneuvered between Israeli checkpoints and through Bedouin outposts in the dusty semi-desert, where oppressed communities eke out a living from the dry soil.
Just a few hundred metres away from such villages, like plush white South African suburbs drawing on cheap black township labour, stand some of the 120 Israeli settlements that since the early 1970s have pocked the West Bank. The most debilitating theft is of Palestinian water, for where once peasants gathered enough from local springs and a mountain aquifer to supply ponds that fed their modest crops, today pipe diversions by the Israelis’ agro-export plantations leave the indigenous people’s land scorched.
From the invaders’ fine houses, amid groves of trees with green lawns, untreated sewage is flushed into the Palestinian areas. The most aggressive Israeli settlers launch unpunished physical attacks on the Palestinians, destroying their homes and farm buildings – and last week even a mosque at Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem was attacked.

#BDS:! إلى قارئ: أظنه ما يزال عربيا


مشغول بقضاياك الصغيرة، وأشيائك اليومية؟
مشغول برغيف الخبز، ومصاريف الأولاد، وسفلتة وإنارة الشارع الذي يمر أمام بيتك؟.. لا بأس.. حتى الناس في « غزة » تشغلهم مثل هذه الأشياء -أو شبيهة لها- ويستطيعون رغم كل الحصار المفروض عليهم أن يتدبروا أمرهم، ويوفروا بعض ما يجب توفيره.. يأكلون الزعتر والزيتون.. ويقاومون.
وماذا بعد؟.. هل يمنعك هذا من أن تنشغل -ولو قليلًا - بقضاياك الكبرى.. ومنها: فلسطين؟.. هل نسيت فلسطين؟!
سيقول لك صوت ما: « وما شأني أنا »؟
قل له: ولماذا يكون شأن رجل شريف أو امرأة شريفة من الغرب، ولا يكون شأنك يا ابن العم؟!
سيقول لك الصوت ليربكك: « تقصد جورج غلاوي؟.. هذا رجل يبحث عن الأضواء والمكاسب السياسية».
لا تجادله.. وقل له: لا أقصده -وإن كنت أحترمه أكثر منك- بل أقصد أناسا بسطاء مثلك.. أقصد « راشيل كوري» -وأمثالها كثيرون- تلك الشابة التي ماتت تحت جرافة إسرائيلية وهي تحاول أن تمنعها من هدم بيت فلسطيني.
لحظتها.. اذهب للمرآة، وانظر إلى وجهك، و « افتل شواربك» واعترف: أن هذه المرأة « أرجل» منك ألف مرة !
من أنت؟
اخرج من الهويات الصغرى -تلك التي يدفعك لها زمن الهزيمة- وانزع ثياب الهويات الضيقة: المذهبية / القبلية / القطرية.. حتى تصل إلى جلدك!
وفي المقابل.. دع عنك كل هذا الضجيج العالمي الذي يريد أن يمسخك ويجعلك كائنا « معولم» بلا هوية واضحة..
ستكتشف أنك وببساطة تمتلك هوية واضحة: عربي.
فلسطين: أرضك.
وأهل فلسطين: أهلك وعزوتك و « القرابة».
وعار عليك أن يأتي « متضامن » من أقصى الأرض يدفع دمه وماله ليتضامن معهم.. وأنت تتفرج على المشهد وكأنه لا يعنيك!
كل هذا الفضاء الالكتروني مفتوح أمامك ولم تكتب سطرًا واحدًا لها.. أو عنها!
كل هذه الثرثرة التي تملأ بها « تويتر» و « الفيسبوك » والمدونات والمنتديات..تملأها بالأشياء التافهة.. وتنسى ولو لمرة واحدة أن تتذكر « فلسطين »!
بل أنك سمحت لخصومها أن يشوّهوا الصورة أمامك.. وأحيانًا تنساق وراءهم بسذاجة!.. لا تصدق هذا الذي يدّعي «الليبرالية» وهو يقف بجانب الجلاد ضد الضحية.. لا تصدق هذا الاسم المستعار -الذي يكتب معك في منتداك الالكتروني- والذي يعمل بحماسة ليلخبط روحك وانتماءاتك.. فأنت لا تعلم من أي وزارة خارجية أو جهاز مخابرات أتى!!

#BDS: Turkey will not attend OECD conference, minister says

Turkey will not send any delegation to a biannual tourism conference in Israel later this month, the country’s culture minister said Tuesday, marking the first boycott of Israel on a multilateral level since a deadly raid on a Turkish aid ship in May.
Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay told a group of reporters Tuesday that Turkey would not send any representative to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, conference on Oct. 20-22 in Jerusalem. “Regrettable statements have been made. We want tourism to take place, not politics,” he said.
Diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that the Turkish decision would mark the first boycott of Israel on a multilateral platform. Despite the May 31 flotilla incident, an Israeli Foreign Ministry diplomat attended a meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, or CICA, last week in Ankara.
Initially, Turkey intended to send the ministry’s deputy undersecretary, Özgür Özaslan, to the tourism conference, but Ankara changed its decision after evaluating the situation.
Spain and Britain will also not attend the OECD conference.

#BDS: OECD Considers Relocating Conference Planned For Jerusalem Due To Boycott Calls

After several nations announced that they will likely boycott this month's planned bi-annual tourism conference of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Secretary-General of the OECD wrote a harshly worded letter to the Israeli Prime Minister which hinted at the possibility of relocating the conference.
The letter came after the Israeli Tourism Minister publicly stated that the OECD's meeting in Jerusalem showed that the group supported Israel's territorial claim over the disputed city.

"In order to go forward with the meeting on the current basis, the tourism minister should correct the misperception created and put the meeting in its proper perspective," wrote OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Gurria added that the selection of Jerusalem for the conference was not in any way meant to support Israel's territorial claim over the city.

Britain and Spain have already announced that they will boycott the meeting due to the choice of location, and the Palestine Liberation Organization has called on all member states to boycott the meeting if it is held in Jerusalem.

The OECD is a 33-nation member organization meant to direct international economic policy and development funding.

#BDS: BDS Success: Unilever to Move Factory out of West Bank

Unilever Israel Foods is planning move its Beigel & Beigel company plant from the Barkan industrial zone, located in the occupied West Bank, to a location inside Israel, reports the Hebrew-language daily Maariv

This moves follows intense Palestinian and international pressure on the parent company, Unilever International, to move its operations out of the settlement industrial zone or to divest from the factory, which collects profits due to the advantages given to Israeli businesses in the West Bank, including extensive subsidies by the Israeli government.

Unilever International, the UK and Dutch-owned multinational company, has been trying to divest from Beigel & Beigel since 2008, following the refusal of British stores to sell products manufactured in Israeli settlements. However, given the location of the factory in the illegal Ariel settlement and the growing international calls for accountability from the settlements industries, the company was unable to sell its shares.

"Following the divestment in recent years of a number of non-core businesses ... the decision has been reached to divest of its interests in the bakery business and will therefore seek to find a buyer for Unilever's share in the Beigel & Beigel partnership," the company said in a statement at the time.

United Civilians for Peace, a Dutch organization, published a report in 2006 entitled Dutch economic links to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and/or Syrian territories, and then began “a constructive dialogue with Unilever Netherlands on the ethical implications of the company's investment in the settlement,” according to the UCP website.

#BDS: Greek fans protest Israeli occupation in Euro qualifier

A Euro 2012 qualifier soccer match between Greece and Israel turned into a pro-Palestinian rally as Greek fans received the Israeli away team with Palestinian flags and anti-Israel slogans.

The Greek crowd raised Palestinian flags and scarves in front of Israeli players, chanting slogans supporting the Palestinian cause and condemning the Israeli occupation.

The masses raised banners reading: “Israeli Murderers” and “Free Palestine”.

Several ships have been sent from Greece to break Israel’s five year siege on a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

#BDS: ‘Hey BU you’ve been had, Dershowitz is WICKED bad!’: Boston University students protest CAMERA

On Sunday, October 10th, students from Boston University’s Students for Justice in Palestine group and their allies (American Jews for a Just Peace, ItisApartheid, and students from several other Boston Palestine groups) assembled to demonstrate against the university’s hosting of “War by Other Means: the Global Campaign to Delegitimize Israel,” a conference put on by the anti-Palestinian group CAMERA (the Committee For Accuracy in Middle East Reporting). As a result of the growing success of the international Palestine solidarity movement, Israel’s supporters increasingly feel that they are en route to a South African like pariah status. According to CAMERA, “Israel faces a convergence of global forces that may undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of the world community.” Its conference contained many prominent Israel supporters including keynote speaker and Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, Daniel Pipes, and Gerald Steinberg of NGO monitor.
As conference attendees arrived, they were met with a mock “apartheid wall” assembled by protesters symbolizing the nearly 440 mile long wall Israel has used to seize and carve up Palestinian territory beyond the 1967 Green line. The Brass Liberation Orchestra, a marching band which incorporates socio-political messages into its often theatrical performances, accompanied several dozen protesters as they held banners, sang, and handed out hundreds of fliers. Protestors used chants such as “BU, US, it’s time for BDS!” and "Hey BU you've been had, Dershowitz is WICKED bad!" (as Alan Dershowitz photographed a banner with his name on it).
BDS or boycott, divestment, and sanctions, is a global non-violent movement that aims to put economic pressure on the Israeli state to end the occupation of the territories seized in 1967, recognize international law, and grant full and equal rights to Arab-Palestinians living within Israel.

#BDS: مقاطعة أكاديمية أم مقاومة التطبيع؟

د. ماهر الجعبري، المصدر: صحيفة فلسطين
طالب اتحاد نقابات أساتذة وموظفي الجامعات الفلسطينية من إدارات الجامعات والأكاديميين عدم التعاون أو الانخراط في أي مشاريع مشتركة مع الجامعات (الإسرائيلية) بشكل مباشر أو غير مباشر، وبشكل فردي أو مؤسساتي، وجاء ذلك تعقيباً على قرار اتخذه مجلس جامعة جوهانسبرغ بعدم الاستمرار في علاقة طويلة الأمد مع جامعة بن غوريون في (إسرائيل).
لا شك أن مد جسور التعاون العلمي مع جامعات العدو هو جريمة سياسية تقوم بها مجموعة من الأكاديميين الذين ينتمون لأهل فلسطين، بينما هم في تنافر مع محيطهم الثقافي، وهي جريمة قبل أن تبادر جامعة جوهانسبورغ لأي مقاطعة وبعدها..
وقد سبق أن قامت جامعات بريطانية قبل عدة سنوات بمبادرة للمقاطعة الأكاديمية مع الباحثين اليهود، عندما بادر أكاديميان بريطانيان خلال اعتداءات صيف عام 2002، إلى نشر رسالة مفتوحة في صحيفة “ذي غارديان” تحمل ما يزيد على مئة توقيع لأكاديميين بريطانيين تدعو إلى فرض عقوبات على (إسرائيل) ما لم تلتزم قرارات الأمم المتحدة ، وتبدأ مسعى جدياً في المفاوضات السلمية، ومن ثم تصاعدت الحملة البريطانية بدخول الجمعية الوطنية لمؤسسات الدراسات العليا في بريطانيا ، ومن ثم جمعية أساتذة الجامعات في بريطانيا على خط المقاطعة.

#BDS: Tourism and Occupation: Can the OECD stand up to Israel?

"Israel's ministry of tourism website clearly lists tourist sites in occupied territory, such as the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as Israeli sites. The ministry's websites also publicise settlement-based tourist services licensed by the ministry and receiving Israeli state financial support under the ministry's auspices. They present maps that depict the entire territory of historic Palestine west of the Jordan river, as well as the Syrian Golan, as territory of Israel that falls under Israel's national tourism-related and cultural heritage-related responsibility..."
Sam Bahour and Charles Shamas
The Guardian
12 October 2010
The upcoming OECD tourism summit in Jerusalem will test its member countries' commitment to international law
What can be said for the state of international law when international organisations such as the OECD find themselves unable to prevent a member country from bringing its unlawful practice into the life of the organisation itself? In such situations, how can law-abiding member countries avoid being drawn into acquiescence? Later this month, these questions may find answers when Israel hosts an OECD gathering in Jerusalem to discuss global tourism.
The OECD is an international economic organisation of 33 countries, with the latest controversial addition to this club being Israel. The OECD explains its mission as providing "a setting where governments compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and co-ordinate domestic and international policies". At minimum, one would expect the co-ordination of these "international policies" to remain within the bounds of international law.
At Israel's invitation, the 86th session of the OECD tourism committee will take place in Jerusalem on 20 and 21 October to discuss supporting a sustainable and competitive tourism industry for the benefit of the members' economies. The session will be attended by senior government officials from OECD member countries and key emerging economies. This is only the second time that the meeting has been held outside Paris.
Israel will conduct itself as the host and as an OECD member based on the Israeli ministry of tourism's unlawful unilateral extension of its jurisdiction to include occupied East Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights and touristic sites and businesses in those parts of the West Bank reserved for Israeli settlement.
Israel's ministry of tourism website clearly lists tourist sites in occupied territory, such as the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as Israeli sites. The ministry's websites also publicise settlement-based tourist services licensed by the ministry and receiving Israeli state financial support under the ministry's auspices. They present maps that depict the entire territory of historic Palestine west of the Jordan river, as well as the Syrian Golan, as territory of Israel that falls under Israel's national tourism-related and cultural heritage-related responsibility.
Despite OECD efforts to the contrary, photographs of touristic sites in occupied territory have been incorporated in a website that Israel has constructed under OECD auspices.
Last month, the Right to Enter campaign – a grassroots campaign for the freedom of movement to/from and within the occupied Palestinian territories, for which we volunteer – wrote to each OECD member to explain the situation and the harm that will be done by allowing such Israeli practice under OECD auspices, and by acquiescing to Israel's insistence on basing its participation in the OECD on its illegal acts of annexation and settlement in occupied territory.
All OECD member countries refuse to recognise Israel's illegal annexation of East Jerusalem and have therefore insisted in keeping their embassies in Tel Aviv instead of Israel's self-proclaimed "unified" capital. They presumably would not want to be drawn into acts or omissions that would imply that Israeli practice resulting from the very acts of annexation and settlement they condemn as internationally unlawful can be considered legitimate under the OECD's auspices.
It remains to be seen how they will manage to avoid such missteps. It is hardly encouraging that during the runup to the tourism meeting web pages bearing the OECD emblem continue to advertise touristic and cultural heritage sites in the occupied Palestinian territories as Israeli.
It is difficult to overlook the fact that Israel has been permitted to base its performance of its obligations and conduct its participation in OECD activities on its own policies of settlement and annexation, notwithstanding the duty of the OECD and its member countries not to recognise these Israeli practices as lawful or give them effect within the OECD.
Countries planning to attend include Spain, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.
For those countries that decide to attend, the devil will be in the details. The proficiency of their delegates at identifying and preventing the importation of Israel's violations of international law into the proceedings and surrounding events will be sorely tested.
It can make no sense for world leaders to allow themselves to be drawn progressively into acquiescing to Israel's serious and persistent violations of international law while continuing to demand that Palestinians respect and place their confidence in international law after 62 years of dispossession and 43 years of military occupation.
Yet Israel has become a habitual violator and has also become highly proficient at dragging other states along with it. If the OECD and its member countries cannot be expected to effectively resist this pull, who can be expected to hold the line? Who is left to defend the normative foundations of the just and peaceful world order that states and international organisations like the OECD regularly proclaim their resolve to promote?

#BDS: الجامعة الفلسطينية وسباق المسافات الطويلة في مقاومة الاستعمار

د. عبد الرحيم الشيخ

قد لا يكون من المستغرب أنه في الوقت الذي يبدو فيه الواقع السياسي الفلسطيني أشبه ما يكون بلعبة "بيت بيوت" قومية يمارسها الكبار على شهوة من الجدِّية ووفرة من قلَّة الحيلة، تتبدى في الأفق مبادرات ثقافية وأكاديمية جادة لتغيير قواعد اللعبة وإعادتها من استيهامات السياسة إلى واقع المواجهة الفعلية مع الاحتلال الصهيوني وأداته الدولانية المتمثلة في إسرائيل كدولة عنصرية بامتياز. ولعل أكثر ما يُعَوَّل عليه فلسطينياً اليوم، بين شعارية خطاب الرسمية الفلسطينية وواقعية الخطاب غير الرسمي، هو المقاومة الشعبية وتكريس سياسات الصمود، لا تلطُّفاً في التعبير عن "تحسين واقع العيش في ظل الاحتلال الإسرائيلي،" بل كنهج نضالي عالمي بالمعنى المزدوج للكلمة: نهج يحظى بدعم عالمي منقطع النظير ويؤتي ثماره يومياً في اللحظة الفلسطينية الراهنة، ونهج مجرَّب عالمياً في مستوطنات سابقة كانت، أو لا تزال، ضحية للشَّره الاستعماري الممركز أوروبياً، مثل جنوب أفريقيا. 

موضع الشاهد هنا، هو الحراك اللافت الذي تقوده ثلاثة تجمعات فلسطينية فاعلة في سياق المقاومة الوطنية، هي: اللجنة الوطنية لمقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات منها وفرض العقوبات عليها؛ والحملة الفلسطينية للمقاطعة الأكاديمية والثقافية لإسرائيل؛ واتحاد نقابات أساتذة وموظفي الجامعات الفلسطينية، بكل ما تمثِّله هذه التجمعات من فواعل ثقافية وأكاديمية وفكرية على الساحة الفلسطينية والعربية والعالمية. قد تتطلب فلسفة كل واحد من هذه التجمعات ومسيرتها الوطنية في مقاومة الاحتلال مقالة مستقلة، ولكن فعلها الجمعي الذي ترغب هذه المداخلة في إلقاء الضوء عليه هنا، وفتح باب السجال حوله وما يفتح عليه من نقاش لدور الجامعة الفلسطينية من على صفحات "أيام الثقافة،" هو الحراك الواسع الذي تقوم به لاستثمار قرار مجلس جامعة جوهانسبرغ في جنوب أفريقيا بتاريخ 29 أيلول 2010 والقاضي "بعدم الاستمرار في علاقة طويلة الأمد مع جامعة بن غوريون (في بئر السبع) في شكلها الحالي" وبوضع عدة "شروط لاستمرار تلك العلاقة،" و"إعطاء جامعة بن غوريون مهلة ستة أشهر لإنهاء تواطئها مع جيش الاحتلال (الإسرائيلي) ووضع حد لسياسات التمييز العنصري ضد الفلسطينيين (الذي) يشكل خروجاً ملموساً عن موقف العلاقة المعتادة الذي حكم الاتفاقات بين هاتين المؤسستين حتى وقت قريب."
قد لا يكون هذا القرار من جانب مجلس جامعة جوهانسبرغ على قدر من الأهمية والأثر المباشر الذي يُلمس يومياً ويؤثر بشكل كبير على دولة الاحتلال، والذي تنجزه المجاميع الفلسطينية المذكورة وامتدادها العالمي المعروف بالحركة العالمية لمقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات منها وفرض العقوبات عليها لأجل فلسطين (Global BDS Movement : Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions for Palestine )، ولكن أهميته تنبع من مجموعة التقاطعات والقضايا التي يثيرها على المستويات الإسرائيلية والفلسطينية والدولية. 

#BDS: Falafel B'aribua eyes New York City

Israeli falafel chain set to launch new location in Big Apple, already scouting for additional NYC spots

Israeli falafel chain Falafel B'aribua ("square") aims to follow in the footsteps of Max Brenner and Aroma cafés and take New York City by storm, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

The chain, which has eight branches in Israel, plans to add four new local venues in the next few months, alongside its expansion to the United States.

Starting December, falafel-hungry New Yorkers will be able to satisfy their craving by stopping at the corner of 57th Street and Third Avenue, where the first NYC location will be.

Falafel B'aribua's US venues will be called "Kululu," and the owners are already eyeing additional locations in Times Square and Manhattan's Upper West Side.

#BDS: Bezalel academy to exhibit at int'l design festival

Israel's leading Arts and Design Academy amongst select group of 14 academies invited to exhibit work in Lodz. 'We're bringing our best design talent to this wonderful festival,' curator says

The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, has been invited to be part of a select group of just 14 academies from around the world that will be exhibiting work at the 4th International Festival of Design, in Lodz, Poland, between the October 14-31 this year.

Each year at the festival, international artists and designers come together to present their work and participate in a forum in which ideas are exchanged about the cutting-edge of design. An integral part of the festival is the Review of Polish and Foreign Art Schools. The review involves a select group of exceptional international arts and design academies that are invited to exhibit their output and establish co-operation between schools, lecturers and students. Competition for exhibition space is fierce.

Academies apply to be part of the review and the organizers choose to invite those who they consider have submitted the best proposals and work.

This year, Bezalel joins academies from Europe, Asia and the Far East, and will be exhibiting work by students and graduates from its department of Industrial design. The exhibition is called "From Material to Object". It includes final year students' work, plus work from a recent project inspired by Bezalel's proximity to the unique environment of the Dead Sea.

#BDS: Thai boxing fosters Iran-Israel friendship

When Israeli amateur Thai boxing champion Ilya Grad needs training partner, he goes to his good friend, Iranian champion Mostafa Abdollahi

Ilya Grad, Israel's Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) champion, directs a stunning kick at his Iranian opponent. The Iranian kickboxer, Mostafa Abdollahi, staggers back but recovers fast and sends a punch of his own towards his Israeli opponent's face. Then something strange happens.

A moment after the sparring ends, the Iranian places a friendly arm on the Israeli's shoulder, and the Israeli responds with a wide smile. Then they go to get a cold drink together, talking about the training and the competitions coming up – just like two good friends. The fact they come from enemy states doesn't get in the way at all.

"Mostafa is a great guy," Grad (23) says. "He's proud of his country and nation, but he doesn't mix politics with sport, and he has no problem being my friend even though I'm Israeli. Politics? – we don't take it seriously. We both laugh at the situation between Israel and Iran."

Grad, from Jerusalem, has a list of sporting achievements to his name: Israeli amateur Thai boxing champion, Asia champion, and also placing third in the world. His friendship with the captain of Iran's leading boxing team began during the world championships in Bangkok, in 2009.

Grad asked Abdollahi (28) if he would be Grad's "corner-man" – the one who helps by providing towels and water during the breaks in the rounds and treats wounds if necessary. The Iranian agreed.

#BDS: More international artists booked for private events in Israel

Trend that began with billionaires Arcadi Gaydamak and Roman Abramovich gaining popularity, as more and more Israelis willing to fork out a lot of cash to have artists such as Boney M, Gypsy Kings perform for their guests. 'People here love to impress, and having Kobi Peretz ay your wedding doesn't impress anyone anymore,' local promoter says

A resident of an affluent central Israel neighborhood wanted Shakira to perform at his wedding; so much so that he was willing to fork out hundreds of thousands of shekels to bring the Colombian singer to the country. Eventually he had to make do with the finalists from the "Star is Born" TV show (Israeli version of "American Idol"), who didn't come cheap either.

Until recently, local artists such as Sarit Hadad and Eyal Golan ruled the private party circuit, but the past few months have seen this trend change, with more and more international artists being booked to play at private Israeli events. Three such events are set to take place in October, including a performance by the Gypsy Kings at an annual bash thrown by hotel magnate David Fattal in Eilat. In case you were wondering, the band will rake in close to $50,000 for the gig.

Eighties icon Samantha Fox recently performed at the Karmiel Dance Festival, but before leaving she squeezed in another show at a private party.

#BDS: Action Alert : Demand The OECD Cancel Their Planned Tourism Conference in Jerusalem

Please follow this link to send an email to Angel Gurría, the Secretary General of the OECD, and demand that his organization respect International law by canceling the planned OECD tourism conference in Jerusalem.