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It is time to repeal the law being used to criminalize French BDS activists

BDS action in France. (Photo via The Alternative Information Center)

BDS action in France. (Photo via The Alternative Information Center)

“As a consumer and as a citizen, I refuse to purchase Israeli products so long as Israel fails to respect international law; I am also calling on my fellow citizens to do the same in order to bring pressure upon Israel to dismantle the separation wall and the settlements.”

For having made such statements in the street or in shops, or for having written them in magazines or posted them on the internet, nearly 100 individuals have faced criminal charges in French courts.  They are members of organizations that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. They have been indicted by prosecutors following instructions contained in an internal text issued by the Ministry of Justice on 12 February 2010, the so-called “Alliot-Marie circular”, named after the Minister of Justice, Michèle Alliot-Marie.

The circular requests prosecutors to bring criminal charges against individuals who call for boycotting Israeli goods.  It asserts that Article 24, line 8 of the 1881 law on the press allows the punishment citizens or organizations who call for the boycott of goods from a country whose policies they criticise. The circular interprets the law extensively, in contradiction to the principle of the strict interpretation of criminal law.

In fact, Article 24, line 8 of the 1881 law does not refer to the suppression of boycotts, but only of provocations “to discrimination, hatred, or violence against an individual or a group of individuals on the basis of their origins or their belonging or not belonging to an ethnic group, a nation, a race, or a specific religion.”

The Alliot-Marie circular has been criticized by organizations on the grounds of freedom of expression.  It has also been criticized by numerous jurists, academics, lawyers, and judges, on the grounds of its content, which misuses a law intended to combat racist and anti-semitic remarks.  Certain prosecutors have gone so far as to refuse to call for BDS activists to be found guilty, in spite of the written instructions of their superiors.

In 2012, the Paris appeals court acquitted defendants, considering that the remarks for which they were being tried represented peaceful criticism of the policies of a State.  The European Court of Human Rights, for its part, regularly reminds European states that activist groups are entitled to enhanced protection of their freedom of expression when it comes to political issues.  Christiane Taubira, the present Minister of Justice, has acknowledged that the Alliot-Marie circular’s interpretation of the law might be considered “unjust” or “abusive”.

These facts, together with the change of parliamentary majority in 2012, led many of us to hope that the absurdity of this situation would lead to a change in policy.  But the Alliot-Marie circular of 2010 remains in vigor and criminal charges continue to be brought against BDS activists. France has thus acquired the dubious distinction of being, along with Israel, the only country to criminalize a peaceful and civic initiative which calls for the respect of international law.

Boycott is a peaceful initiative, limited to appeals to the conscience of consumers and retailers. No form of constraint has been applied to customers or retailers in France, or to Israeli producers and supplers.  In France, calls for boycott have for decades been a feature of the republic’s political debate. Madame Taubira herself referred to boycotts as a “recognized and public form of activism” and admitted to having encouraged the boycott of South African goods, in the context of an international campaign that no one at the time would have dreamed of criminalising.

Boycott is a civic initiative: it is based on a mobilization of civil society. The BDS campaign began in 2005 at the request of 172 Palestinian organizations and trade unions.  It calls on civil society around the world to bring pressure to bear on Israel.

Numerous organizations in France have joined the Palestinian call. Their actions are peaceful, consistent with freedom of expression and address a topic of international importance. Their actions do not discriminate against Israeli citizens; they seek to boycott Israeli institutions and goods in order to change the policies of the state.

Finally, boycott is an initiative to promote respect for international law: its goal is to obtain adherence to United Nations resolutions and the end of actions declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in the Hague, in its opinion of 9 July 2004, namely the construction of the separation wall and of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The mobilization of civil society has been indispensable, because governments have done practically nothing to secure Israel’s respect for international law.

Nothing could be further from the truth than to suggest that the BDS campaign is racist or anti-semitic. This claim is analogous to the rhetoric used in the 1970s and 1980s against anti-apartheid activists, who were compared to irresponsible Marxist-Leninists or anti-white racists.  No BDS activist brought to trial since 2010 has been charged with making racist or anti-semitic remarks or with committing racist or anti-semitic acts. It is time to abrogate the Alliot-Marie circular.

The original French version of this article appeared in the print version of Le Monde dated 6 March 2014.

Ivar Ekeland, Rony Brauman and Ghislain Poissonier

Ivar Ekeland is President of the Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine (AURDIP), Rony Brauman is a physician and essayist and Ghislain Poissonier is a magistrate and was a delegate of the ICRC in the West Bank in 2008 and 2009.

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46 Responses

  1. American on March 13, 2014, 11:24 am

    ”For having made such statements in the street or in shops, or for having written them in magazines or posted them on the internet, nearly 100 individuals have faced criminal charges in French courts.”

    And the French government doesn’t see the insanity of this?
    O.K., this is where if I were a Jew I actually would start being afraid of some nation’s population turning on me ———>having people punished as ‘criminals’ by their government for being or saying anything against anything Jewish related.

    • Walid on March 13, 2014, 3:30 pm

      American, 100 had been charged under the pro-Israel application of the 1881 law, but the majority have been acquitted or have had the mickey-mouse charges dropped. The intent is not so much to punish activists as much as it’s about spooking the rest into remaining silent. Somehow, it’s not working in France as it’s not working elsewhere. Those activists in this discussion went to film a video, one of a dozen similarly made ones in other Carrefour branches a to the Carrefour Maubeuge Street supermarket in Paris’ IX district wearing BDS T-shirts and conducted a mock trial in the fruits and vegetables section for people buying Israeli products there. The bright green T-shirts said either “Boycott Israel” or “Palestine Lives”.

      • American on March 13, 2014, 9:06 pm

        ” The intent is not so much to punish activists as much as it’s about spooking the rest into remaining silent”…Walid

        Just as bad.
        But I agree its not working.
        And verging into dangerous territory imo.
        Singling out ‘one foreign country and ‘one group of people and ‘one event (like the holocaust) that cant people cant speak critically about or question without punishment or intimidation by their own government?
        Like the SS picking up Germans ..’for questioning’…who spoke against Hitler.

    • pabelmont on March 14, 2014, 5:51 am

      The intent is to damage BDS by frightening people. Imprisoning them or imposing fines would be OK with Alliot-Marie and her successors (if any). However, the damage is that being accused blackens the names of the accused and costs them money for legal assistance. the whole thing (the MEMO, not the law) should be attacked in court as over-reaching interpretation of the 1881 law).

      • Walid on March 14, 2014, 8:03 am

        French activists have been claiming all along that their conflict is neither with Israel nor with products from Israel but strictly with products from the settlements and therefore their actions have nothing to do with the anti-racism and incitement law of 1881. It should be noted that most of the cases against the boycotters had been instigated by 4 Israel-France associations that have kept the heat on the judicial system to prosecute them.

        The rumble started with the court action on January 13, 2010 against activist Sakina Arnaud for having affixed “boycott-Israel” stickers on vegetables in a supermarket. She was charged with incitement to antisemitic hate. On February 10, 2010, the court condemned Sakina Arnaud to pay a fine of 1000 euros.

        2 days after that judgement, which the then Minister of Justice Alliot-Marie found lenient, issued a memorandum to all the Chief Prosecutors of the Courts of Appeal asking of them a firm and coherent repression of all calls to boycott as she considered all calls to boycott products of a country as a public provocation to discriminate against a nation, an offence punishable by a fine of 45,000 euros and 1 year in jail. She also asked that those other cases involving similar offenses which have been left in abeyance to lapse be reopened and to be reported in detail to her.

        Here is the memo in question:

        “Lettre-circulaire de Michèle Alliot-Marie

        Le 12 février 2010,

        aux Procureurs généraux près les cours d’appel

        OBJET : Procédures faisant suite à des appels au boycott des produits israéliens.

        Depuis le mois de mars 2009, plusieurs procédures faisant suite à des appels au boycott de produits israéliens diligentées sur le fondement de la provocation publique à la discrimination prévue et réprimée par l’article 24 al 8 de la loi du 29 juillet 1881 ont été portées à la connaissance de la direction des affaires criminelles et des grâces.

        Ces faits prennent le plus souvent la forme de rassemblements dans des centres commerciaux dans le cadre desquels les appels au boycott sont formulés. Certaines de ces manifestations font ensuite l’objet de diffusions via des sites internet.

        Par jugement du 10 février 2010, le tribunal correctionnel de Bordeaux a prononcé une condamnation à l’encontre d’une personne poursuivie sous la qualification précitée pour des faits de cette nature.

        Il apparaît impératif d’assurer de la part du ministère public une réponse cohérente et ferme à ces agissements. A cette fin et dans la perspective éventuelle d’un regroupement des procédures motivé par le souci d’une bonne administration de la justice, j’ai l’honneur de vous prier de bien vouloir porter à la connaissance de la direction des affaires criminelles et des grâces tous les faits de cette nature dont les parquets de votre ressort ont été saisis. Si certaines procédures ont déjà fait l’objet de classements sans suite, vous prendrez soin d’exposer de manière détaillée les faits et de préciser les éléments d’analyse ayant conduit à ces décisions.

        Je vous serais obligé de bien vouloir veiller à la diffusion de cette dépêche et de m’aviser, sous le timbre de la direction des affaires criminelles et des grâces, sous direction de la justice pénale générale, bureau de la politique d’action publique générale, de l’exécution des présentes instructions et des difficultés qui seraient susceptibles de résulter de l’application de ces dispositions.”

        In one of the judgments, the 7 accused activists were each condemned to pay a fine of 500 euros as well as 500 euros in court costs to the 4 Israel-France plaintiff parties.

  2. Walid on March 13, 2014, 12:47 pm

    “In 2012, the Paris appeals court acquitted defendants, considering that the remarks for which they were being tried represented peaceful criticism of the policies of a State.”

    That acquittal on 2 separate cases was contested by the prosecution and subsequently overturned at the appeals court of Colmar on November 27, 2013 with heavy fines and a suspended 2 year jail sentence imposed on the 12 accused BDS activists for having provoked an incident at the Carrefour Supermarkets a couple of years earlier .

    That reversal was submitted by the activists to La Cour de cassation, (court of final appeal) where the 2 cases are still to be reviewed. So the 2 cases are still open and the activists are not out of the woods yet.

    Current Justice Minister Christiane Taubira agrees that the Michèle (I love Israel)Alliot-Marie interpretation in 2010 of the 1881 law that is directly aimed at BDS activists campaigning against Israel is abusive, but she still hasn’t done anything about it. She discussed it with students last December:

  3. Ecru on March 13, 2014, 1:44 pm

    Zionists really seem intent on making Jews loathed throughout the world by associating them with these attacks on civil liberties.

  4. Hostage on March 13, 2014, 1:52 pm

    The EU Framework Decision on Xenophobia and Racism make it every bit as criminal for Zionists to publicly condone, deny, or trivialize war crimes and crimes against humanity that target Palestinians. The BDS Movement needs to add pillaging and other serious crimes to its existing narrative about illegal population transfer.

    For example, the international BDS movement is losing some key communications battles because it is framing everything in terms of illegal population transfer, instead of pillage of property and forfeiture of the proceeds from that crime, e.g. the secondary boycott case in the UK:

    The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal, stating that Ahava’s actions could not amount to “aiding and abetting the transfer of Israeli citizens to the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories], but even if it did, this could not amount to an offense by Ahava’s retailing arm.”

    The demonstrators were engaging in civil disobedience and would have probably been found guilty of trespassing in any event, but the Court was NOT presented with any arguments about the retailer profiting from the crime of pillage. The UK is a contracting state party bound by the terms of Article 28 of the Hague rules of 1907. General Allenby applied the rules and the Hague Convention to the OETA of Palestine. The UK is also bound by Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention, and Article 8(2)(e)(v) of the Rome Statute. It has its own domestic statute that requires investigation of proceeds from ICC crimes and identifying the extent or whereabouts of property derived directly or indirectly from an ICC crime:

    Similarly, 18 U.S. Code § 2441 – War crimes made pillaging, as defined by Article 28 of the Hague rules, or Article 147 of the 4th Geneva Convention a federal crime that preempts any conflicting state law. Proceeds from the crime can also subject to the provisions of federal law, e.g. 18 U.S. Code Chapter 95 – RACKETEERING: 18 U.S. Code § 1956 – Laundering of monetary instruments, and 18 U.S. Code § 1957 – Engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

    Charges of pillaging have been leveled in several of the indictments in the cases currently pending in the ICC, i.e. Republic of the Congo: Germain Katanga, Bosco Ntaganda, Callixte Mbarushimana, Sylvestre Mudacumura, and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui; Central African Republic: Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo; Uganda: Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen; Darfur, Sudan: Ahmad Muhammad Harun (“Ahmad Harun”), Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”), Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, and Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein.

  5. ivri on March 13, 2014, 6:57 pm

    The people who take part in this boycott acts don`t seem to understand how it risks them. There is a growing anti-Moslem trend in a wide range of European countries and disruptions in private French commercial outlets – seemed as sheer lawlessness to many there – only add fire to that. In addition, it pushes the French Jews to the anti-Moslem front and that is not a small thing. For instance, influential Jewish French philosophers, who are otherwise sensitive to minority discrimination because of past bitter experience of Jews in such regards, are not supporting the Moslem case and some even turned against them. In contrast, Martin Luther King was surrounded in the US by Jews in the various committees that he formed and a great deal of financial support for the big marches, – both essential for his success – came from Jewish individuals and organizations.

    • Sumud on March 13, 2014, 10:42 pm

      It’s not only muslims that participate in BDS though ivri – and it would be fairly easy to make a case that anyone claiming so is operating with racist intent. I’m not referring to you, by the way, more to crackpots like Pamela Geller and those who share her views but are not so rabid about expressing them.

    • RoHa on March 14, 2014, 6:39 am

      The anti-Muslim trend in Europe stems at least partly from the perception of Muslims as terrorists motivated by the sort of religious extremism that Europeans abandoned some time ago, and partly by the tendency of many Muslim immigrants to cluster together in groups which seem to maintain the most oppressive aspects of their ancestral culture, rather than assimilate. They create the impression of being parasites upon and enemies of the countries – and the values of those countries – in which they live.

      In France, the Algerian war is an additional influence.

      • Walid on March 15, 2014, 9:27 am

        RoHa, you’re being such a diplomat; some of the immigrants are actually being a pain in the ass and this is unjustly rubbing off on their communities. Not just the Arabs but the Jews too with their halal, kosher, veils, side locks, long black coats, water pipes, wigs, keffiyehs, circumcisions, superior social and religious mores, and their other idiosyncrasies that are giving the rest of the world a migraine.

      • just on March 15, 2014, 9:43 am

        It’s always interested me that assimilation is often secondary to preservation of immigrants’ imagination of what they left behind. What I mean is that sometimes they want to create their own perfect and idyllic version of their homeland in their new & chosen homeland, and then they tend to blame the new place for all their misery……..and sometimes they force their version of perfection and their culture on others, instead of keeping some of the good of their heritage and blending it with the good that they find. I have witnessed terrible racism and xenophobia in my lifetime. Sometimes racists use this resistance to assimilation as fuel for their terrible fire.

        As a bonafide mutt, I was taught to remember the past/my heritage and honor it, but also to concentrate on the present and engage in a positive way with the home that was chosen for me. I know I was/am lucky.

        I might not have expressed it well at all, so I will end it here.

      • Citizen on March 15, 2014, 10:30 am

        @ just
        You expressed your POV very well. We are all bonafide mutts in some ways.

      • American on March 15, 2014, 12:08 pm

        I am tired of the ‘assimilation’ thing—–the minute one says immigrants should assimilate they scream about depriving them of their ‘ethnic heritage or whatever.
        Maybe instead of assimilate we should start using ‘comply’ with common law of the land and accepted ‘norms’ of behavior in society.
        Other than that they can keep their dress, food,religion or whatever else they want that isn’t something repulsive to the larger society.
        They can choose to live in their own ethnic communes for all I care if thats the personal life style they want.
        But they do have to buy into and practice the national ‘common good’ as far as loyalty and politics go.
        Not try to force any ethnic ideology or agenda of their own on the government of this country.

      • Walid on March 15, 2014, 12:42 pm

        You expressed it well, Just. It was almost the same with me. I was told to do the opposite about the engaging part, but I didn’t listen.

      • RoHa on March 15, 2014, 12:14 pm

        At the risk of sounding less diplomatic, there is a relevant case before the courts here in Australia. An international student from Lebanon “married” a thirteen year old girl. It came to the notice of the authorities when he was registering her in high school. He was arrested, alone with the girl’s father and the imam who performed the wedding.

        Perhaps the student did not know this would be totally unacceptable in Australia, but the father and the imam live in Australia. If they know about Australian law and customs, then they just blew them off. If they did not know about them, then they simply hadn’t bothered to learn. Either way, it shows a total contempt for the society they live in.

        This sort of attitude is not going to help the reputation of Muslims.

      • RoHa on March 15, 2014, 12:25 pm

        And, since yonah objects to “Jews bring it on themselves rhetoric”, I expect he will also object to my “Muslims bring it on themselves rhetoric”.

      • Walid on March 15, 2014, 1:24 pm

        I agree, RoHa, these people deserve to be punished, especially the father. Similar horror stories involving under-age girls have been coming out of the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. .

    • talknic on March 14, 2014, 8:07 am

      @ ivri “The people who take part in this boycott acts don`t seem to understand how it risks them”

      Mmmmm let’s see..

      ” There is a growing anti-Moslem tre…”

      Ivri pushes a pathetic Islamophobic Hasbarrow. Israel’s illegal policies seem to attract denialistas, liars, cheats, bigots, false accusers, people who covet other folks property, people willing to break the most basic of Judaisms tenets.

    • Walid on March 14, 2014, 8:43 am

      “For instance, influential Jewish French philosophers, who are otherwise sensitive to minority discrimination because of past bitter experience of Jews in such regards, are not supporting the Moslem case and some even turned against them. ”

      I’m, assuming you are talking about the self-proclaimed French philosopher, pseudo intellectual and all around snake and shit-disturber, Bernard-Henri Lévy. You can keep him and his sympathies.

      A reminder for those Islamophobes that need reminding, in 1940, an Iranian junior diplomat in Paris risked everything by helping 2000 Iranian-French Jews escape the Nazis. That BTW is a 1000 more than Oskar Schindler. Mr Sardari neither sought nor received much recognition for his efforts in his lifetime and died lonely in a bedsit in Croydon, south London, in 1981. He had lost his ambassador’s pension and Tehran properties in the Iranian revolution. His humanitarian work was belatedly recognised in 2004 at a ceremony at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles.

      You then have the story of the Jews saved by Muslims that hid them from the Nazis in Paris’ great mosque that ran somewhere between only a hundred Jews up to maybe 1500 that’s been hard to document, but still a couple of films were made about it:

      • Citizen on March 14, 2014, 12:25 pm

        Thanks for that info, Walid….on a related note, I can’t count how many times I learned some person in the news, often a celebrity, came from a Jewish family who were helped, hidden by Polish people when they did so at risk of being instantly killed by the Nazis. Maybe somebody should make a list beyond Schindler, especially as many of those good samaritans never got a material thing from helping to save humans who happened to be jews.

      • Sumud on March 15, 2014, 12:57 am

        Thanks Walid I hadn’t heard of Sardari before.

        Where is the big Hollywood blockbuster or even one damn book in English about him? In time I hope.

        Going by the numbers Oskar Schindler should be known as “Germany’s Sardari”, not vice versa as it is now.

  6. a blah chick on March 13, 2014, 7:51 pm

    I have heard that France is getting or is as bad as the U. S. in its anti-anti Zionism. Do they have an AIPAC equivalent there?

    • Citizen on March 14, 2014, 8:03 am

      a blah chick
      Yes France is afflicted with an AIPAC type organization which is very influential.

    • Walid on March 14, 2014, 9:11 am

      Yes, it’s called “le Conseil représentatif des institutions juives de France” (Crif) . It’s like a combination of AIPAC and the American Jewish Congress that groups a few hundred satellite organizations including an ADL clone and a still-legitimate aggressive and violent JDL that make the outlawed American and Israeli ones appear like kindergarten in comparison. There are 500,000 Jews in France.

      The Criff has its annual dinner when everyone in France would kill to get invited and where I-love-Israel speeches are made by the dozens of French parliamentarians and government ministers and Presidents and would-be Presidents. The French lobbying group works with the American one at “influencing” certain American-French decisions such as the standing threat to not allow the French Railways System into the bidding of TGV lines proposed for California and Florida until the Railways properly recognize its guilt in having transported Jews to their death and for which they must also cough up some cash.

  7. Scott on March 13, 2014, 10:34 pm

    I suppose the next step is to exhume de Gaulle and put him on trial for criticizing Israel. Had BHL proposed that yet?

    • Sumud on March 13, 2014, 10:43 pm

      Perhaps when he has finished styling his mane there will be time. He has gained considerable time by utilising only half his shirt buttons. Let us pray and hope for further innovation…

      • tree on March 14, 2014, 4:11 pm

        He has gained considerable time by utilising only half his shirt buttons.

        Coffee spew time! Thanks for the hearty laugh.

  8. Citizen on March 14, 2014, 8:07 am

    Trying to decriminalize BDS supporters in France, while trying to criminalize them here, especially on college campuses. Time for the Jewish community to take a deep breath and join BDS, or at the very least, stop supporting attacks on BDS and protest against attempts to muffle BDS–free speech is a high value in America:

    • Walid on March 14, 2014, 10:44 am

      About criminalizing something else to do with Palestine, this week from the twilight zone, at the giant Riyadh Book Fair, one of the kiosks, Arab Network for Research and Publishing (ANRP) was shut down and had all books by the great Palestinian poet Mahmood Darwish confiscated. It seems that the youth religion police spotted some blasphemous verses while checking out one of Darwish’s books there.

      I wonder which verses created the stir; probably some of the sensual ones he wrote about his first love, the Israeli woman about her honey-colored eyes and her body as a wedding in his blood and how they burned in the wine of their lips. Must have been a very suffering trip for the religion police.

      • Walid on March 14, 2014, 3:16 pm

        More news today from the land of wonders:

        “Saudi Arabia bans 50 baby names
        List includes foreign names; those that ‘contradict culture and religion’

        Check out if your name is one of the 50 names banned recently by Saudis for newborn babies.

        Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has banned 50 given names including “foreign” names, names related to royalty and those it considers to be blasphemous.

        Saudis will no longer be able to give their children names such as Amir (prince), Linda or Abdul Nabi (Slave of the Prophet) after the civil affairs department at the ministry issued the list, according to Saudi news sites.
        It justified the ban by saying that the names either contradicted the culture or religion of the kingdom, or were foreign, or “inappropriate”.
        The names fit into at least three categories: those that offend perceived religious sensibilities, those that are affiliated to royalty and those that are of non-Arabic or non-Islamic origin.

        A number of other names appear that do not necessarily fit into any category and it is therefore unclear as to why they would have been banned. Names such as Abdul Naser and Binyamin are not found to be particularly offensive to Muslims. Binyamin is believed in Islam to be the son of Prophet Jacob (Yaqoub) (PBUH) and the full brother of Prophet Joseph (PBUH), but it also happens to be the name of the Israeli prime minister. Abdul Naser, similarly, is the name of the famous Arab nationalist ruler of Egypt, who was at odds with Saudi Arabia.

        Names such as Abdul Nabi and Abdul Hussain, common among Shiites and some Sunni Arabs, are controversial because of the multiple ways in which they can be interpreted. Abdul in Arabic means “worshipper of” or “slave of”, while Nabi means “prophet” and Rasool means “messenger”. Those who oppose such names argue that Abdul means “worshipper of’ and is therefore forbidden as only God can be worshipped. Most Muslim names with Abdul carry one of God’s 99 Islamic names. Abdul Rahman, for example, comes from the name Al Rahman.

        Another set of names that is banned includes those that have to do with royalty, especially titles such as Sumuw (highness), Malek (king) and Malika (Queen) and other royal terms such as Al Mamlaka (the kingdom). Some of the names on the list are not uncommon among Arabs, including Malak (angel), Amir (prince), Abdul Naser and Jibreel (Gabriel).”

        For the list of 50 names banned:

      • Woody Tanaka on March 14, 2014, 3:31 pm

        “Check out if your name is one of the 50 names banned recently by Saudis for newborn babies.”

        To anyone in KSA who’s looking for a name, I already checked: Woody is not on the list. Feel free.

      • Sumud on March 15, 2014, 3:16 am

        Walid what does Nardeen translate as or why would it be on the list do you know? One of my relatives is named Nadine though that version is apparently a French derivation of the Russian Nadia.

      • Walid on March 15, 2014, 4:03 am

        Sumud, the name probably comes from the root word “nard” which is an aromatic plant, like other plants that are also a source of many female names but most likely because “nard” also the word for “dice”, which of course is used in the prohibited gambling and in the Persian backgammon game.

      • Sumud on March 15, 2014, 1:47 pm

        Interesting ~ thanks Walid.

  9. bilal a on March 14, 2014, 8:36 am

    BTW, what happened with this Sandy Berger type episode between SSCI senate select committee staff (Rockefeler, feinstein) at POTUS / CIA? strange inter-democratic party conflict, where Brennan took back documents from the staffers who made unauthorized access hacks? There are known overlaps between CIA torture incidents and the presence of Israeli interrogation officers and methods:

    Israeli link possible in US torture techniques
    Ali Abunimah The Daily Star 11 May 2004

    An investigative reporter, or someone at Justice, should cross check these with AIPAC fronts:

    Feinstein staff


    Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

    Payee Name Start date End date Salary Title Amount Notes PDF
    John R. Livingston Jr. (Jack) 04/01/13 09/30/13 Minority Counsel $85,657.44 View original PDF
    Martha Scott Poindexter 04/01/13 09/30/13 Minority Staff Director $85,657.44 View original PDF
    David Alexander Grannis 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $84,871.92 View original PDF
    Lorenzo V. Goco 04/01/13 09/30/13 Budget Director $84,323.96 View original PDF
    Kathleen Bernadette Rice 04/01/13 09/30/13 Counsel $81,799.92 View original PDF
    Virginia Renee Simpson (Renee) 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $80,199.96 View original PDF
    David S. Luckey 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $80,199.96 View original PDF
    Hayden S. Milberg 04/01/13 09/30/13 Minority Budget Director $79,999.64 View original PDF
    Kathleen P. McGhee 04/01/13 09/30/13 Chief Clerk $79,715.00 View original PDF
    Daniel J. Jones (Dan) 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $72,999.96 View original PDF
    Eric P. Losick 04/01/13 09/30/13 Counsel $72,999.96 View original PDF
    Michael F. Buchwald (Mike) 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff/Counsel $72,999.96 View original PDF
    Randall D. Bookout (Randy) 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $70,987.92 View original PDF
    Richard S. Girven (Rich) 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $70,800.00 View original PDF
    Oliver L. Galloway 04/01/13 09/30/13 Director of Information Management and Technology $69,597.83 View original PDF
    Christian M. Cook 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $69,499.98 View original PDF
    Andrew F. Kerr 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $69,499.98 View original PDF
    Tyler Stephens 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $65,799.96 View original PDF
    Evan R. Gottesman 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff/Counsel $65,499.96 View original PDF
    Michael Pevzner 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $65,499.96 View original PDF
    Clete Daniel Johnson 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff/Counsel $65,499.96 View original PDF
    John B. Dickas 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $65,499.96 View original PDF
    Jennifer H. Barrett 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $65,499.96 View original PDF
    Tressa Steffen Guenov 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $65,499.96 View original PDF
    James A. Catella (Jim) 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $65,499.96 View original PDF
    James A. Wolfe (Jim) 04/01/13 09/30/13 Security Director $64,678.92 View original PDF
    Brian William Walsh 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $64,499.97 View original PDF
    Brian Andrew Miller 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $64,499.97 View original PDF
    Paul M. Matulic 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $64,499.97 View original PDF
    Jeffrey R. Howard 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $63,300.00 View original PDF
    Michael C. Tanner (Chad) 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $62,374.96 View original PDF
    Ryan M. Tully 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $61,999.98 View original PDF
    Ryan M. Kaldahl 04/01/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $51,999.93 View original PDF
    Jon Jason Rosenwasser 06/11/13 09/30/13 Budget Director $49,361.08 View original PDF
    Sheryl D. Wood 04/01/13 09/30/13 Deputy Security Director $43,893.48 View original PDF
    Andrew James Grotto 04/01/13 07/07/13 Professional Staff Member $38,541.64 View original PDF
    Kelly E. Shaw 04/01/13 09/30/13 Court Reporter $33,000.00 View original PDF
    Matthew Y. Pollard (Matt) 04/01/13 06/18/13 Professional Staff Member $30,333.31 View original PDF
    Lorelei M. Shepard (Lori) 04/01/13 09/30/13 Staff Assistant $29,787.96 View original PDF
    Margaret E. Evans (Peggy) 04/01/13 05/28/13 Budget Director $27,388.87 View original PDF
    Neal Leigh Higgins 04/01/13 06/03/13 Professional Staff Member $22,569.42 View original PDF
    Amy Frances Hopkins 04/01/13 05/17/13 Professional Staff Member $16,972.19 View original PDF
    Josh A.G. Alexander 09/04/13 09/30/13 Professional Staff Member $9,374.99 View original PDF
    Jared E. Rieckewald 04/01/13 04/30/13 Professional Staff Member $6,458.32 View original PDF
    Jacqueline A. Russell (Jacqui) 04/01/13 04/07/13 Deputy Minority Staff Director $3,331.11 View original PDF
    45 results
    Many of these names have apparently just left for the private ( Military Industrial) sector.

  10. Pippilin on March 14, 2014, 1:44 pm

    Oh, the French. I love them and their beautiful country, but sometimes they make it so frustrating to continue feeling that way. This law is so absurd– it’s the kind of law that not only makes people want to disobey it, but also attracts more and more free-thinkers to the cause France has made illegal.
    About 30 years ago a French pilot was alleged to have refused to land at a given airport unless the controllers spoke to him in French– that’s all, that’s the story. I don’t know the ending. Did he run out of gas and crash? Was he intoxicated and perish with his plane? I just remember shaking my head and thinking “Oh, the French.”
    But there is no humor I can find in France’s government and this law that outlaws those who support a bona fide movement from even speaking about it. Shame on you, France.

    • Walid on March 15, 2014, 2:48 am

      “About 30 years ago a French pilot was alleged to have refused to land at a given airport unless the controllers spoke to him in French– that’s all, that’s the story. I don’t know the ending. ” (Pippilin)

      You’re thinking of a situation in Quebec in 1976 and the strike involving a conflict between French-Canadian air controllers and pilots of Quebec wanting to work in their language over the skies of Quebec and their English counterparts from the rest of Canada that refused to go along on the grounds of safety. The 9-day strike grounding flights across Canada came on the eve of the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics threatened to delay their opening but was resolved in time. The French succeeded in being allowed to speak in their mother tongue in Quebec although they still had to be fully bilingual.

    • puppies on March 15, 2014, 4:32 pm

      Pippilin – Are you really confused? What is there in common between a “rascal law” against free speech and insisting in the use of one’s language wherever it is recognized as official (that had nothing to do with the French, btw, but Canadians.)

  11. edding on March 14, 2014, 2:17 pm

    It would appear that the French authorities’ interpretation of the law is a blatant violation of the human rights of those protesting Israeli policies with a boycott, especially where the boycott is targeted at products made in the settlements, all of which have been declared illegal by the United Nations. Why has no one sued France in the EU Court? Forcing it to defend itself in an international forum would open up the case to much more public debate on these very issues, a debate France wants to suppress.

    • Walid on March 15, 2014, 3:34 am

      What makes it blatantly abusive was that the Justice Minister’s instructions to be repressive against boycotters was its reference specifically to boycotters of Israel and its timing coming 2 days after a judgment against an Israel boycotter was found to be too lenient and her instructions to all prosecutors to reopen sleeper cases involving other boycotters of Israel and report back to her.

      The then 64-year old Justice Minister was certainly not a novice on the job. She was elected 6 times successively to serve in the French legislature and held 4 important ministerial portfolios also successively (Defense, Interior, Justice, Foreign Affairs) until she resigned in 2011 after allegations of conflict of interest with and of backing the Tunisian dictator during the uprising. She was defeated for the first time for a seat in the legislature in the elections of 2012.

  12. Walid on March 15, 2014, 1:55 pm

    More good news from BDS; Mekorot loses a big contract in Argentina:

    “$170m Argentina loss for Israeli water firm Mekorot as BDS spreads southward
    Posted on March 14, 2014 by Palestinian BDS National Committee

    – La Plata contract loss follows similar boycott by Dutch firm Vitens
    – European construction firms and pension funds abandon Israel
    – Student and youth unions continue to throw weight behind BDS
    – YWCA-YMCA in Norway adopt BDS

    In the latest success for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, authorities in Buenos Aires have suspended a proposed $170m water treatment plant deal with Israeli state water firm Mekorot. The decision came after a campaign by local trade unions and human rights groups that connected Mekorot’s role in Israel’s theft of Palestinian water resources with evidence that the project did not meet Argentinian standards and necessities.

    Campaigners argued that Mekorot was attempting to export the discriminatory water policies it has developed against the Palestinian people to their country.

    This victory largely contraddicts Israeli claims, last expressed during Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC, that the global south, eager for Israeli technology, are uncontested growing markets.

    Mekorot illegally appropriates Palestinian water, diverting it to illegal Israeli settlements and towns inside Israel, and imposes severe obstacles to Palestinians accessing their own water. Amnesty International has accused Israel of depriving Palestinians of their access to water “as a means of expulsion”. A French parliamentary report accused Israel of imposing a system of “water apartheid” in the occupied Palestinian territory.

    The Buenos Aires provincial government approved a drinking water plant project deal with a consortium led by Mekorot following a visit to Israel by state governor Daniel Scioli in 2011, but protests and lobbying have persuaded local authorities to suspend the project.

    The large Dutch water utility Vitens suspended a cooperation agreement with Mekorot on the grounds that the relationship violated its “commitment to international law” in a high profile announcement in December.

    “After investigating, we concluded that Mekorot came to Argentina with the intention to repeat what they are doing in Palestine. Water is a right for all and no company should be able to provide water in a discriminatory way,” said Adolfo, an engineer and a representative of the CTA/ ATE Hidráulica trade union in Buenos Aires that campaigned against the Mekorot plant…”

    Full story:

    • just on March 15, 2014, 1:57 pm


      • Walid on March 15, 2014, 2:49 pm

        Just, Israel and friends dropping a ton of bricks on Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s head last year for having entered into an agreement with Iran to set up an international truth commission to investigate the 1994 bombing of the Jewish AMIA Center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and injured hundreds surely did not help Mekorot. The Iranians have been blamed for this terrorist bombing since back then but lately, indications are leading to an Israeli false flag operation being behind the bombing. (what else is new?)

        From USA Today:

      • just on March 15, 2014, 3:13 pm

        Thanks for confirming my initial reaction to your good news, Walid.

        Whatever it takes…the truth will prevail, and accountability will happen. Thus far, Israel has escaped any and all accountability for their terrible actions……. I was heartened to read this:

        “London — Some 30 celebrities have petitioned the UN demanding they take action to protect civilians, notably Palestinian refugees, caught up in the Syria conflict as it entered its fourth year on Saturday.

        Stars including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Sting, Roger Waters and Tracey Emin were among those calling on the United Nations Security Council and presidents of the General Assembly to create safe spaces and local ceasefires to allow emergency supplies to reach besieged people.

        The letter — signed chiefly by British figures from the world of film, literature, acting, music and visual arts — is endorsed by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, and the HOPING charity which supports Palestinian refugee children.

        Nearly 500,000 Palestinians were registered as refugees in Syria before the civil war. UNRWA has said the majority of them are displaced from their normal homes.

        Most of the 170,000 residents in the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus residents have fled, but nearly 40,000 remain trapped inside, living in abject conditions.

        The celebrities asked the UN bodies “to tell us how they will create safe spaces and local ceasefires with immediate effect.

        “People and relief must be let through. We want our voices to carry, on behalf of those now suffering in Syria, in order to prevent any more tragedy.”

        Among the celebrity signatories were musicians Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox; artists Tracey Emin, Carsten Hoeller and Jeremy Deller.

        They also included film directors Alfonso Cuaron, Ken Loach and Stephen Frears; and writer Hanif Kureishi.

        UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said: “It is now exactly two weeks since our last delivery of humanitarian aid to Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. The situation there is desperate, so this appeal is timely and urgent.”

        I hope that a 2nd letter will be ‘sent’ soon, with an entreaty to help the Palestinians trapped inside the OPT.

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