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We are writing to ask you to stop providing online advertising services to the illegal Israeli settlement of Kibbutz Afik in the Israeli occupied Golan.
The Syrian Golan was occupied by military force by Israel in 1967. Towns, villages and cities of the indigenous Syrian residents were razed and 131, 000 of the residents forcibly expelled. The area remains under military occupation and has been colonised by Israeli settlers who have established 33 settlements inhabited by around 18000 colonists.
Afiq was set up soon after the occupation of the Syrian Golan, close to the remains of the Syrian city of Fiq, whose residents had been expelled by the Israeli forces.
The occupation of the Golan amounts to both a war crime and a crime against humanity. The continued economic exploitation of the area by the occupying army and colonisers continues to be a matter of international concern. For example. In 2008 the United Nations passed a resolution which ‘calls upon Israel to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and in particular to desist from the establishment of settlements.’ (General Assembly Resolution 63/99).
The UN Security Council further calls upon “all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements in the occupied territories.” (1979)
In advertising the ‘Kibbutz Afik Country Lodging’ (at http://www.venere.com/hotels/afik/hotel-kibbutz-afik/), which is situated on illegally occupied territory, you are propping up the settlement’s economy and helping to perpetuate the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan, contrary to international law.
Furthermore, in 2005, after the International Court of Justice’s ruling against Israel’s apartheid wall, a coalition of civil society groups called on the international community to boycott Israel until it complied with international law. These groups included representatives of the remaining residents of the occupied Syrian Golan the half a million refugees who are barred from returning to the area.
Please advise us what steps you plan to take in relation to this matter.
for more detail on the legality of Israeli settlements under international humanitarian law see Jonathan Moloney (Al Marsad), The Illegality of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Syrian Golan under IHL, 2009 – http://www.golan-marsad.org/pdfs/The_Illegality_of_settlement_products_under_IHL.pdf
The call for boycott can be found at http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52
Ein Zivan kibbutz presents itself as the perfect retreat for Israeli families who want some time away from the heat and buzz of cities like Tel Aviv; it is green, quiet and benefits from the cooler, more comfortable climate. It was also one of the first settlements in the Israeli occupied Golan. Established in 1968, it has a population of around 50 Israeli families and -like most Golan settlements- makes its money through tourism and fruit sales. Cherries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, pomegranates, plums, apples and various herbs are all grown on the land occupied by Ein Zivan. The kibbutz runs a popular ‘pick your own fruit’ service for tourists and locals, but its fields are covered in flags and signs for the Israeli fruit export and marketing company Beresheet, who clearly run the distribution part of their business (for a previous Corporate Watch article about Beresheet see http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/beresheet-exporting-the-fruits-of-occupation/ ).
A few weeks ago the Guardian’s G2 supplement ran a series of adverts for tourism in Israel. One of them, shown above, describes a holiday in Israel as a ‘unique experience’. Damn right its a unique experience; interrogation by surly airport security, sharing buses with hordes of armed to the teeth Israeli adolescents and the chance to see the old city of Jerusalem policed by racist goons with a quota of Palestinian residents to harass. For the more adventurous tourist there’s the deserted and terrorised streets of the old city of Hebron, daubed with xenophobic graffiti, the apartheid wall, collective puishmment, targeted assassinations, house demolitions, torture and repression – the possibilities are endless.
None of that was mentioned in the G2 adverts. Readers are presented with a picture of a couple enjoying the Dead Sea Coast – much of which is in illegally occupied territory (see http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/kibbutz-kalia-part-1-a-holiday-in-israeli-apartheid/). Read the rest of this entry »
The Syrian Golan was occupied by military force by Israel in 1967. Towns and villages and cities of the indigenous Syrian residents were razed and 131, 000 of the residents forcibly expelled. The area remains under military occupation and has been colonised by Israeli settlers who have established 33 settlements inhabited by around 18000 colonists.
Israel hopes to normalise the occupation of the heights, and make the settlements economically viable, by promoting the area as a major tourist destination.
Tourism in the occupied Syrian Golan is promoted through dozens of websites, none of which describe destination as ‘occupied Golan heights’ or as an Israeli settlement’. Here are a few of the hotels advertising rooms in Afik, a Southern Golan settlement established in 1967 close to the remains of Fiq, whose residents had been epelled by the Israeli army.
http://www.hotelscombined.com advertises, and offers web bookings, for a guesthouse in the Israeli settlement of Afik. Hotels combined is an online booking service advertising rooms all over the world, based in Sydney.Rooms in Afik are also advertised on easytobook.com - a web booking company based in Switzerland webtourist.net – also based in Switzerland, booking.com part of priceline.com – a company with offices all over the world including in london (see here). Maplandia also offers a booking service in Afik thriough information provided by booking.com Rooms in hotels in Afik can also be booked at venere.com – a company with offices in Rome, Paris and London.
Kibbutz Kalia is an illegal Israeli settlement on the North coast of the Dead Sea. It offers bed and breakfast and a private beach and is attempting to tap in on the steady flow of tourists to the area.
Visitors to the area could be forgiven for not realising that Kibbutz Kalia lies in occupied territory. Its a straight drive along route 90 which bypasses Palestinian communities almost entirely. The North coast of the Dead Sea, although only a few kilometres from Jericho, is completely devoid of Palestinian areas and, only when you go inside Carmel Agrexco date packing houses will you see Palestinians. Visible workers on Kibbutz Kalia’s settlement farms are Thai migrants.
Kalia advertises rooms at its guesthouse on a number of websites including http://www.booking.com, http://www.venere.com, http://www.agoda.com, http://www.travelbyclick.net and http://www.webtourist.net. None of these websites make clear that Kalya is in occupied Palestine or that it is an illegal Israeli settlement. Read the rest of this entry »
Merom Golan (www.merom-golan.org.il) is an illegal Israeli settlement in the Northern Golan heights. It was established in 1967, after Israel’s invasion and military occupation of the area. Merom Golan was established on land belonging to the Syrian area of Al Mansura. It now has a population of 497 people. Read the rest of this entry »