Deadly protests mar Venezuela ballot as voters snub Maduro assembly

Flames erupt as clashes break out near security forces members (R) while the Constituent Assembly election is being carried out in Caracas, Venezuela,

By Alexandra Ulmer and Anggy Polanco

CARACAS/SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela, (Reuters) – Deadly protests rocked Venezuela on Sunday as voters broadly boycotted an election for a constitutional super-body that unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro vowed would begin a “new era of combat” in the crisis-stricken nation.

Anti-Maduro activists wearing hoods or masks erected barricades on roads, and scuffles broke out with security forces who moved in quickly to disperse demonstrators who denounced the election as a naked power grab by the president.

Authorities said 10 people were killed in the confrontations, which made Sunday one of the deadliest days since massive protests started in early April.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro show his ballot as casts his vote at a polling station during the Constituent Assembly election in Caracas, Venezuela July 30, 2017.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro show his ballot as casts his vote at a polling station during the Constituent Assembly election in Caracas, Venezuela July 30, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Maduro, widely disliked for overseeing an unraveling of Venezuela’s economy, has promised the assembly will bring peace by way of a new constitution after four months of opposition protests in which more than 120 people have been killed.

Opposition parties sat out the election, saying it was rigged to increase Maduro’s powers, a view shared by countries including Spain, Canada, Colombia and the United States.

The Trump administration is considering imposing U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s vital oil sector in response to Sunday’s election, U.S. officials said.

Potential U.S. sanctions on sales of light crude to Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA would hamper its already weak refining network.

Caracas was largely shut down, streets were deserted and polling stations were mostly empty, dealing a blow to the legitimacy of the vote. A bomb exploded in the capital and wounded seven police officers in what could be the spread of more aggressive tactics.

Critics say the assembly will allow Maduro to dissolve the opposition-run Congress, delay future elections and rewrite electoral rules to prevent the socialists from being voted out of power. The opposition vowed to hold protests again on Monday and to keep pressuring Maduro’s cash-strapped government until he’s forced from office.

“Even if they win today, this won’t last long,” said opposition supporter Berta Hernandez, a 60-year-old doctor in a wealthier Caracas district. “I’ll continue on the streets because, not long from now, this will come to an end.”

Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader narrowly elected in 2013, dismisses criticism of the assembly as right-wing propaganda aimed at sabotaging the brand of socialism created by his mentor and predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

“The ’emperor’ Donald Trump wanted to halt the Venezuelan people’s right to vote,” said Maduro as he rapidly voted at 6 a.m. in a low-income area of Caracas that has turned on the government.

“A new era of combat will begin. We’re going all out with this constituent assembly,” he said.

But with polls showing some 70 percent of Venezuelans oppose the vote, the country’s 2.8 million state employees are under huge pressure to participate – with some two dozen sources telling Reuters they were being threatened with dismissal. Workers were being blasted with text messages and phone calls asking them to vote and report back after doing so.

The opposition estimated participation was at around a paltry 12 percent, but warned the government was gearing up to announce some 8.5 million people had voted.



Fueling anger against Maduro is an unprecedented economic meltdown in the country of some 30 million people, which was once a magnet for European migrants thanks to an oil boom that was the envy of Latin America.

However, nearly two decades of heavy currency and price controls have asphyxiated business. Venezuelans have seen their purchasing power shredded by the world’s highest inflation rate.

Millions of Venezuelans now struggle to eat three times a day due to shortages of products as basic as rice and flour.

“Sometimes I take bread from my mouth and give it to my two kids,” said pharmacy employee Trina Sanchez, 28, as she waited for a bus to work. “This is a farce. I want to slap Maduro.”

To show the massive scale of public anger, the opposition organized an unofficial referendum over Maduro’s plan earlier this month.

More than 7 million voters overwhelmingly rejected the constituent assembly and voted in favor of early elections.

The opposition’s bid last year to hold a recall referendum against Maduro was rejected, regional elections have been postponed and the president has repeatedly ignored Congress.



In Sunday’s gravest incident, a bomb went off as a group of police officers on motorbikes sped past Caracas’ Altamira Plaza, an opposition stronghold. The state prosecutor’s office said seven officers were wounded and four motorbikes incinerated.

Clashes were also reported in the volatile Andean state of Tachira, whose capital is San Cristobal, where witnesses told Reuters an unidentified group of men had showed up at two separate street protests and shot at demonstrators.

Fatalities over the weekend included two teenagers and a candidate to the assembly killed during a robbery in the jungle state of Bolivar. The state’s Socialist Party governor, Francisco Rangel, said the death was a “political hit job” and blamed it on the opposition.

Supporters of “Chavismo,” the movement founded by Chavez, Maduro’s more charismatic predecessor who enjoyed high oil prices for much of his mandate, said they wanted to halt the unrest.

“The (opposition) wants deaths and roadblocks and the government wants peace,” said Olga Blanco, 50, voting for candidates to the assembly at a school in Caracas.

The assembly is due to sit within 72 hours of results being certified, with government loyalists such as powerful Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello and Maduro’s wife and son expected to win seats.


(Additional reporting by Andreina Aponte, Girish Gupta, Corina Pons, Jaczo Gomez, Hugh Bronstein and Carlos Garcia in Caracas, Maria Ramirez in Puerto Ordaz, Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo, Francisco Aguilar in Barinas, Matt Spetalnick and Marianna Parraga in Houston; Writing by Brian Ellsworth, Girish Gupta and Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Daniel Flynn, Sandra Maler and Paul Tait)


Arab states demand Qatar closes Jazeera, cuts back ties to Iran

The Al Jazeera Media Network logo is seen on its headquarters building in Doha, Qatar June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon - RTX39N4R

By William Maclean and Rania El Gamal

DUBAI (Reuters) – Four Arab states boycotting Qatar over alleged support for terrorism have sent Doha a list of 13 demands including closing Al Jazeera television and reducing ties to their regional adversary Iran, an official of one of the four countries said.

The demands aimed at ending the worst Gulf Arab crisis in years appear designed to quash a two decade-old foreign policy in which Qatar has punched well above its weight, striding the stage as a peace broker, often in conflicts in Muslim lands.

Doha’s independent-minded approach, including a dovish line on Iran and support for Islamist groups, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, has incensed some of its neighbors who see political Islamism as a threat to their dynastic rule.

The list, compiled by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain, which cut economic, diplomatic and travel ties to Doha on June 5, also demands the closing of a Turkish military base in Qatar, the official told Reuters.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik rejected the demand, saying any call for the base to be shut would represent interference in Ankara’s relations with Doha. He suggested instead that Turkey might bolster its presence.

“Strengthening the Turkish base would be a positive step in terms of the Gulf’s security,” he said. “Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda.”

Qatar must also announce it is severing ties with terrorist, ideological and sectarian organizations including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the Arab official said, and surrender all designated terrorists on its territory.


The four Arab countries accuse Qatar of funding terrorism, fomenting regional instability and cozying up to revolutionary theocracy Iran. Qatar has denied the accusations.

Qatari officials did not reply immediately to requests for comment. But on Monday, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar would not negotiate with the four states unless they lifted their measures against Doha.

The countries give Doha 10 days to comply, failing which the list becomes “void”, the official said without elaborating, suggesting the offer to end the dispute in return for the 13 steps would no longer be on the table.

“The demands are so aggressive that it makes it close to impossible to currently see a resolution of that conflict,” said Olivier Jakob, a strategist at Switzerland-based oil consultancy Petromatrix.

Several Qataris who spoke to Reuters described the demands as unreasonable. “Imagine another country demanding that CNN be closed,” said 40-year-old Haseeb Mansour, who works for telecom operator Ooredoo.

Abdullah al-Muhanadi, a retired public sector shopping for groceries in Doha on Friday morning, said the boycott must be lifted before negotiations to resolve the dispute could start.

“There’s a lot on the list that is simply not true or unreasonable, so how can we comply?” he said. “There are no IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) elements in Qatar and the agreement with Turkey is a long-standing diplomatic agreement so we cannot ask them to leave.”

The demands, handed to Qatar by mediator Kuwait also require that Qatar stop interfering in the four countries’ domestic and foreign affairs and stop a practice of giving Qatari nationality to citizens of the four countries, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Qatar must pay reparations to these countries for any damage or costs incurred over the past few years because of Qatari policies, he added. Any resulting agreement to comply with the demands will be monitored, with monthly reports in the first year, then every three months the next year, then annually for 10 years, the official said without elaborating.

U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a tough stance on Qatar, accusing it of being a “high level” sponsor of terrorism, but he has also offered help to the parties in the dispute to resolve their differences.

Turkey has backed Qatar during the three-week-old crisis. It sent its first ship carrying food aid to Qatar and dispatched a small contingent of soldiers and armored vehicles there on Thursday, while President Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Saudi Arabia’s leaders on calming tension in the region.

(Additional reporting by Tom Finn and Tom Arnold in Doha, and Daren Butler in Istanbul; Editing by Rania El Gamal, Paul Tait and Richard Balmforth)

Venezuela opposition boycotts meeting on Maduro assembly, clashes rage

Opposition supporters clash with riot police during a rally against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition boycotted a meeting on Monday to discuss President Nicolas Maduro’s plan for a new popular assembly, preferring to protest in the streets where they were again blocked by security forces firing tear gas.

In familiar scenes from five weeks of unrest, youths with gas masks and makeshift shields faced off with police and National Guard troops in Caracas, after hundreds of demonstrators were stopped from reaching government offices.

In Venezuela’s second city Maracaibo, a crowd of about 300 protesters shouting “Maduro Out!” and “No to Dictatorship!” was dispersed with multiple volleys of tear gas.

Decrying Maduro as an autocrat who has wrecked the OPEC nation’s economy, Venezuela’s opposition is demanding elections to resolve Venezuela’s grave political crisis.

The 54-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez says his foes are seeking a coup with U.S. support. He is setting up a “constituent assembly” super body with power to rewrite the constitution and shake up public powers.

But no representatives of the opposition Democratic Unity coalition went to the Miraflores presidential palace on Monday despite an invitation from Education Minister Elias Jaua who is leading the constituent assembly process.

“It’s a trick to keep themselves in power,” said Julio Borges, leader of the National Assembly legislature where the opposition won a majority in 2015.

“The only way to resolve this crisis is with a free vote.”

The unrest has killed at least 37 people since early April, including protesters, government sympathizers, bystanders, and security forces. Hundreds have also been hurt and arrested.

Local rights group Penal Forum said 1,845 people had been detained since April 1 over the protests, with 591 still behind bars. Opposition leaders said 200 of those were being processed by military tribunals in Carabobo state.

Perhaps to justify the use of those military tribunals, officials say they are now facing an “armed insurrection”. Red-shirted Maduro supporters also rallied in Caracas on Monday.

(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne and Corina Pons in Caracas, Isaac Burrutia in Maracaibo; Editing by Tom Brown)

College league ends North Carolina boycott after bathroom law revoked

FILE PHOTO: A sign protesting a North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

(Reuters) – The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), a major collegiate athletic league, said on Friday it has restored North Carolina’s eligibility to host championship sporting events after the state repealed restrictions on bathroom access for transgender people.

The ACC move was the first organization to end the kind of boycotts imposed on North Carolina by various athletic and business entities in a protest against last year’s enactment of the so-called bathroom law, denounced by opponents as discriminatory.

After months of political wrangling, the Republican-controlled legislature on Thursday repealed that law, which required transgender individuals entering restrooms, locker rooms and showers in public buildings to use facilities that matched their sex at birth, as opposed to their gender identity.

The statute, widely known as HB 2, also barred local governments in the state from enacting their own anti-discrimination protections in housing, employment and other areas on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In its place, the HB 2 repeal prevented local jurisdictions from enacting such anti-discrimination measures until 2020.

The HB 2 repeal also reserved for state lawmakers sole authority to regulate access to “multiple occupancy restrooms, showers or changing facilities” in the future.

The repeal was signed into law by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, the former state attorney general who opposed HB 2 from the outset and unseated the former Republican governor last year in large part over political and economic fallout from the bathroom bill.

The new measure drew sharp condemnation from civil rights advocates, who saw it as a largely empty political gesture.

The move by the ACC was a hopeful sign for supporters of the repeal who hoped it would be enough to persuade boycotting organizations to end protests that cost North Carolina’s economy hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This compromise was a first step to repairing our state’s reputation and economy, and it’s encouraging to see the ACC put North Carolina back on its list,” Cooper said afterward.

In boycotting North Carolina, the ACC followed the lead of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which had made a similar decision a few days earlier.

The NCAA board is also considering a return to North Carolina, NCAA President Mark Emmert said on Thursday. A decision was expected in the coming days, he said.

In basketball-crazed North Carolina, the withdrawal of NCAA tournament games and the National Basketball Association All-Star game, which had been awarded to Charlotte, reverberated throughout the state.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Eric Meijer)

Israeli ban targeting boycott supporters raises alarm abroad

FILE PHOTO: Anti-Israel demonstrators led by the protest group Code Pink wear masks of Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu as they sit at the entrance to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, March 1, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

By Miriam Berger

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A law barring foreigners from entering Israel if they back boycotts against the country is causing alarm among liberal American Jews and others who perceive an attempt to suppress critical political opinion.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government has long campaigned against the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, describing it as anti-Semitic and an attempt to erase Israel’s legitimacy.

The movement, launched in 2005 as a non-violent campaign to press Israel to heed international law and end its occupation of territory Palestinians seek for a state, has gathered momentum in recent years even if its economic impact remains negligible.

On March 6, Israel’s parliament passed legislation saying any individuals or representatives of groups supporting BDS-type boycotts – excluding Israeli citizens and permanent residents – would be barred from the country.

Before the law was published and took effect on March 14, some foreigners were denied entry, including a British activist from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

This week, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan went further, calling for a database of any Israelis involved with BDS, including tracking their activity on social media.

In a further sign of a crackdown, one of the founders of the BDS movement, Qatari-born Palestinian Omar Barghouti, who cannot be banned under the law because he’s married to an Israeli-Arab and is a permanent resident of Israel, was arrested this week on suspicion of tax evasion, local media reported.

American Jews who frequently visit Israel say they are alarmed by the law. While they may not support BDS, they oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – which most of the world regards as illegal under international law – and support pressure on the government to end it.

“I was horrified by the ban because it seemed to announce that people would be excluded from Israel because of political views,” said Rabbi Arthur Green, a well-known scholar of Jewish mysticism at Hebrew College in Boston, who visits Israel regularly. “I feel it emboldens extremists on both sides.”

Green and other prominent Jews abroad published an open letter in the Israeli press last week denouncing the ban and challenging the government to arrest them when they arrive.


Others see the legislation as an attack on free speech and question what it says about the right-wing government’s openness to criticism. Internally, Israel tolerates a large diversity of opinion, but commentators say it appears not to accept it so readily from the outside.

This can put the nation in conflict with Jewish communities abroad that might normally be natural defenders of Israel.

“I would map it within deep divisions among Jewish and Israeli communities about where Israel should be and is going,” said Moshe Halbertal, a professor of philosophy at Hebrew University and a leading authority on ethics.

“It really harms the case of Israel in a serious way, and the idea that it’s a country that invites open debate and discussion.”

One of the chief concerns about the law is that it does not distinguish between general boycotts of Israel and boycotts targeting Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want for their own state.

Several European Union countries, for example, label products made in Israeli settlements. Israel calls this a boycott of settlement goods. The countries involved say it is about identifying where the goods come from and clearly separating between Israel and the land it occupies.

Jennifer Gorovitz, vice president of the left-leaning New Israel Fund, a U.S. non-profit group, said the new law seemed to erase the line between Israel and the Palestinian territories, making all criticism, including of settlements, unacceptable.

(Editing by Luke Baker and Mark Heinrich)

North Korea boycotts ‘politically motivated’ U.N. rights session

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana addresses a news conference after his report to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland,

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana addresses a news conference after his report to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – North Korea boycotted a U.N. review of its human rights record on Monday, shunning calls to hold to account the Pyongyang leadership for crimes against humanity documented by the world body.

A 2014 U.N. report detailed the use of political prison camps, starvation and executions, saying security chiefs and possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un himself should face international justice.

The U.N. Human Rights Council held a two-hour session on abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) amid rising tensions on the divided peninsula following its latest missile tests last week and two nuclear tests last year.

“We are not participating in any meeting on DPRK’s human rights situation because it is politically motivated,” Choe Myong Nam, Pyongyang’s deputy ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, told Reuters.

U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the DPRK Tomas Ojea Quintana said he regretted the decision but was still seeking engagement with North Korea.

Rising political and military tensions should not shield ongoing violations from international scrutiny, he said.

“Military tensions have brought human rights dialogue with the DPRK to a standstill,” Ojea Quintana told the 47-member forum.

He also called for an independent investigation into the killing of Kim Jong Nam, estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-un, in Malaysia last month, saying there may be a need to “protect other persons from targeted killings”.

Between 80,000 and 120,000 people are held in four known political prison camps in North Korea and hundreds of families in South Korea and Japan are looking for missing relatives believed abducted by North Korean agents, Ojea Quintana said.

“We remain deeply concerned by ongoing widespread and gross human rights violations and abuses in the DPRK, including summary executions, enslavement, torture, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances,” said William Mozdzierz,

head of the U.S. delegation.

He added that the U.S. is open to improved relations if the DPRK was willing to meet its international obligations.

South Korea’s envoy Lim Jung-taek voiced dismay that three years after the landmark U.N. report there was “no glimpse of hope” for ending “systematic, widespread and gross violations”.

Ying Wang of China, North Korea’s main ally, said Beijing was “against the politicization of human rights issues” while seeking dialogue and de-escalation on the peninsula.

Sara Hossain, a member of the Council’s group of independent experts on accountability, said the U.N. should consider ways of prosecuting those responsible for human rights abuses in North Korea, possibly by creating an international tribunal.

“The groundwork for future criminal trials should be laid now,” she said.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Julia Glover)

NAACP calls for boycott of North Carolina over voting, bathroom laws

Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP, speaks at the 46th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California, U.S. on February 6, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/File Photo

By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Friday said it would not hold its convention in North Carolina and urged other organizations to boycott the state in protest of laws adopted by the Republican-led legislature.

The civil rights groups described the move as the first step in an economic boycott that could be expanded in North Carolina and replicated in other states that enact laws limiting voting rights and protections for gay and transgender people.

NAACP leaders asked artists, religious groups, educators and sports leagues to join the effort.

“If we demonstrate the power of the purse, then we will demonstrate the power of democracy,” the NAACP’s president and CEO, Cornell William Brooks, told reporters in Raleigh.

Brooks did not provide a timeline for a wider boycott, but the organization said an internal task force would explore it.

The NAACP said it was calling for the boycott in response to North Carolina laws such as House Bill 2, which bars transgender people from using government-operated bathrooms that match their gender identity and bans cities from setting a minimum wage above the state level.

The organization said state lawmakers need to create fair election districts that do not dilute the black vote and repeal a new measure seen as weakening the executive powers of newly elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper.

“What has happened in North Carolina makes this state one of the battlegrounds over the soul of America,” said the Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP chapter.

Conventions, corporations and sports leagues including the National Basketball Association already relocated events or halted new jobs planned for North Carolina after lawmakers passed H.B. 2 last March, costing the state more than $560 million, according to the online magazine Facing South.

So far, however, efforts to repeal the measure have failed.

Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican, said Cooper should take a stance against the NAACP’s boycott.

“It’s time for him to show some leadership as North Carolina’s governor, condemn William Barber’s attempt to inflict economic harm on our citizens, and work toward a reasonable compromise that keeps men out of women’s bathrooms,” Berger said in a statement.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Over 300 British Academics Pledge to Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions

As an act of protest over Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people, over 300 professors and lecturers from several academic institutions in England and Wales, including Oxford and Cambridge, have pledged to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

“As scholars associated with British universities, we are deeply disturbed by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement,” the academics write in the letter.

While they say they will still work with individual Israeli academics, the pledge states that the academics will not take parts in events organized or funded by them, act as referees for them, or accept invitations to visit their institutions, according the Guardian newspaper.

The letter continues saying that the participants in the pledge are “deeply disturbed by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement.”

The Higher Education Statistics Agency reports that there are 194,245 academic staff employed by higher education in the U.K. That would mean that the amount of protestors is less than a quarter of 1% of the overall number of academic staff in the U.K. This is a “statistically insignificant minority” according to director of the Academic Friends of Israel organization, Ronnie Fraser.

Despite the small numbers of protestors, the British and Israeli governments responded to the boycott. The British ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, stated that the British government would not allow the boycott to affect the relationship between Israel and Britain as the 60 year partnership makes both countries stronger.

The Israeli embassy in London replied with a published response: “The only path to advancing peace between Israelis and Palestinians passes through the negotiation room. Israel has called time and again for the renewal of talks immediately, without any preconditions. Those who call for a boycott against Israel during a month which saw 45 stabbing attacks – in which more than 100 Israelis were wounded, and 10 were murdered – blatantly ignore the lives of Israelis, and the conditions necessary for peace.”

Netanyahu Slams Mahmoud Abbas and Boycott Movement

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas is fostering “vilification of Jews” with his calls for boycotts of Israeli companies in the West Bank.

“Yesterday Palestinian President Abbas called for the labeling and boycotting of Israeli products. This is definitely not the language of peace,” Netanyahu said during a meeting with Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna. We will continue to resist boycotts, defamation, de-legitimization. We’ll do that internationally, we’ll do that locally if we need to, and our hand will remain stretched out for peace for any partner that wants to have peace with us.”

“I say that to the foreign minister of a free proud and independent Poland, on whose soil the defamation of the Jewish people happened when the Nazis controlled Europe,” Netanyahu said. “The attacks on the Jews were always preceded by the slander of the Jews. What was done to the Jewish people then is being done to the Jewish state now. We won’t accommodate that. In those days we could do nothing.”

The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign is designed to shut down Israeli companies in an attempt to force the Israeli government to give in to Palestinian demands.

The European Union is looking to put in place rules that would require all products from the West Bank to be labeled.

UK Student Organization Votes To Boycott Israel

A leading British student group has voted to join the anti-Semitic boycott of Israel spurred by the Palestinian authority.

The UK’s National Union of Students voted 19-12 to join the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign” started by the Palestinians as a way to attack Israel on the world stage.  The NUS is the umbrella student organization for the nation with over 7 million students represented in 600 schools.

The motion also calls on the British government to stop arms sales to Israel.

The Jewish Chronicle reports that the vote was taken by secret ballot, so it’s impossible to know which members of the group voted in favor of the anti-Semitic action.

A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the vote is really insignificant given the group’s previous anti-Semitic leanings.

“Instead of expressing hatred, British students would benefit from studying history and understanding that the distance between conveying hate language and prejudice to committing despicable crimes is not that great,” the spokesperson said.