Archive for May, 2009

Palestinian Students in Gaza Launch Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Education on May 29, 2009 by Marcy Newman

A Call from Palestine: Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)

PSCABI-Gaza, Occupied Palestine

29 May, 2009

“Gaza today has become the test of our indispensable morality and common humanity.”

Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, 27 December 2008 Statement

The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) calls upon freedom-loving students all over the world to stand in solidarity with us by boycotting Israeli academic institutions for their complicity in perpetuating Israel’s illegal military occupation and apartheid system. We note the historic action taken by thousands of courageous students of British and American universities in occupying their campuses in a show of solidarity with the brutally oppressed Palestinian people in Gaza. We also deeply appreciate the decision by Hampshire College to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. Such pressure on Israel is the most likely to contribute to ending its denial of our rights, including the right to education.

In this regard, we fully endorse the call for boycott issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, PACBI, in 2004.[i]

We emphasize our endorsement of the BDS call issued by more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations in July 2005.[ii]

We also support the Call from Gaza issued by a group of civil society organizations in the second week of the Gaza Massacre (Gaza 2009).[iii]

Our goal, as students, is to play a role in promoting the global BDS movement which has gained an unprecedented momentum as a result of the latest genocidal war launched by Israel against the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. We address our fellow students to take whatever step possible, however small, to stand up for justice, international law and the inalienable rights of the indigenous people of Palestine by applying effective and sustainable pressure on Israel, particularly in the form of BDS, to help put an end to its colonial and racist regime over the Palestinians.

We strongly urge our fellow university students all over the world to:

(1) Support all the efforts aimed at boycotting Israeli academic institutions;

(2) Pressure university administrations to divest from Israel and from companies directly or indirectly supporting the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies;

(3) Promote student union resolutions condemning Israeli violations of international law and human rights and endorsing BDS in any form;

(4) Support the Palestinian student movement directly.

To break the medieval and barbaric Israeli siege of Gaza, people of conscience need to move with a sense of urgency and purpose. Israel must be compelled to pay a heavy price for its war crimes and crimes against humanity through the intensification of the boycott against it and against institutions and corporations complicit in its crimes. As in the anti-apartheid struggle in solidarity with the black majority in South Africa, students concerned about justice and sustainable peace have a moral duty to support our boycott efforts.

The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)

Endorsed by:

* Progressive Student Union Block;
* Fateh Youth Organization;
* Progressive Student Labor Front;
* Islamic Block;
* Islamic League of Palestinian Students;
* Student Unity Block;
* Students Affairs (University of Palestine).

[i] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869
[ii] http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52
[iii] http://www.odsg.org/co/index.php/component/content/article/1100-a-call-from-gaza.html

New Palestinian minister orders boycott of Israeli goods

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Economy on May 28, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Nablus – Ma’an – Newly-appointed Palestinian Minister of Social Affairs Majida Al-Masri has ordered a ministry-wide boycott of Israeli products as her first decision in her new role.

The decision says Palestinian products must have the priority, but if a certain product is unavailable, priority goes to Arab countries, then foreign equivalent. Israeli products are to be boycotted altogether.

The minister also held a meeting with its ministry’s employees and departments. She explained how the new Palestinian government led by Salam Fayyad was created. Al-Masri was sworn in last Tuesday along with a new cabinet dominated by the Fatah movement.

She confirmed during the meeting that her ministry’s top priority would be supporting the besieged Gaza Strip, and segregated Jerusalem. “The relationship between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip should be one of unity, and neutrality should be the rule when dealing with humanitarian issues,” she said.

Al-Masri also said that social security would be a central focus. She plans to build a database of needy people all around Palestine as part of an overall effort to help the poor.

“LA CARRAU IS CANCELLING ITS VISIT TO ACRE”

Posted in Cultural Boycott on May 28, 2009 by Marcy Newman

After having talks with the platforms promoting the boycott of Israel and with representatives of Catalan institutions and gathering as much information as possible about the events taking place on 24-25 May at Acre, Israel in which La Carrau has been invited to participate, we feel that we should make the following public statement:

LA CARRAU IS CANCELLING ITS VISIT TO ACRE

First of all we would like to make very clear our total respect for the people of Israel and their different ethnic groups and cultures. We would also like to point out that we did not intend to take part for profit; we were invited to go, not hired. Our reward, rather than economic, was to be the chance to visit some wonderful places and get a close look at ways of life that are very different from our own, due not only to their cultural characteristics but also to the obvious incongruities of a problem that is still unresolved: the imbalance of cultures and religions.

Having said this, the reasons that finally led us to take our decision were:

– That in spite of the efforts we have made to contact different people, entities and media organisations, we have not been able to determine the exact nature of the events in which we are invited to take part.

– That we understand and agree with the arguments given by the network of platforms for the cultural boycott of Israel, as long as this boycott is not aimed at personal initiatives and only affects events orchestrated by the institutions of the Israeli state.

– That we do not wish to have anything to do with an event that could be used as propaganda by the official institutions of the state of Israel, and this seems especially likely when the promoter is the town council of Acre, which is extremely right wing and xenophobic in character.

Why Palestinians are calling for a boycott of Israeli universities

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Education on May 28, 2009 by Marcy Newman

A Palestinian academic union urges British colleagues to back a boycott in support of ‘our struggle for justice’

* Amjad Barham
* guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 26 May 2009 15.57 BST

Palestinian academics have been heartened by the outpouring of solidarity with our people on the part of British academics and students – the latter attested to by the creative “student occupation movement” in the wake of the brutal Israeli war against the Palestinian people in Gaza last December and January.

What does the Palestinian academic community expect from international colleagues?

It has sometimes been suggested that solidarity with Palestinian academics is best expressed in fostering academic links between British and Palestinian universities, with the aim of strengthening the capacity of Palestinian academic institutions that have suffered from the long siege imposed by Israel’s colonial regime.

While we value academic and institutional forms of support, we feel that this is not sufficient. Decades of life under military occupation have taught us that no sustainable development, including in the academy, is possible without freedom from occupation and oppression.

We are keenly aware that British intellectuals and academics have been at the forefront of many international campaigns for justice, the most illustrious and successful of which was the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa. What we ask for is moral consistency: if it was acceptable for British academics to support unreservedly the academic boycott of South Africa with a view to ending the system of apartheid, then the same should apply in the case of Israel.

It is the duty of civil society to shoulder the moral responsibility of isolating Israel in the international arena through various forms of boycott and sanctions to compel it to obey international law and respect Palestinian rights.

It is well documented that Israeli academic institutions are deeply complicit in Israel’s colonial and racist policies against the Palestinian people. Not only do Israeli universities and research institutions co-operate closely with the security-military establishment through research and other academic activities, they have never dissociated themselves from the occupation regime, despite the more than four decades of the systematic stifling of Palestinian education.

Israeli universities have never condemned the entrenched and institutionalised system of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel within the Israeli polity, society and even the academy.

Israel and its supporters have argued that the Palestinian call for institutional boycott infringes the universal principle of academic freedom. Palestinians find this argument biased and hypocritical – not to mention based on false premises.

The privileging of academic freedom above more basic human rights conflicts with the very idea of universal human rights, as it assigns far more importance to the academic freedom of a sector of Israeli society than to the fundamental rights of all Palestinians to live in freedom and dignity. Is upholding the academic freedom – in our view, the privileges – of Israeli academics a loftier aim than defending the freedom of an entire people living under a brutal and illegal occupation?

“Constructive engagement” with the Israeli academy is often suggested to us as a more effective mechanism to address the injustice inflicted upon us by Israel. We have tried this method, only to realise that as long as the terms of the relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians are those of occupier and occupied, and oppressor and oppressed, the engagement process only results in normalising the occupation on the ground and whitewashing Israeli atrocities abroad.

I can give an example from my own personal experience. Once, as I was crossing one of the hundreds of military checkpoints on my way to my university, I was stopped by an Israeli soldier who turned out to be a fellow mathematician at an Israeli university. But our collegiality ended here: he told me that I could cross the checkpoint if I was able to answer a mathematics question correctly! What kind of engagement can be possible here?

As to the charge that the boycott is discriminatory, it is completely false. The Palestinian boycott call is institutional; it simply does not target individual Israeli academics and cannot, therefore, be “discriminatory” in any real sense of the term. Endorsing and applying the boycott does not in any way prevent individual Israeli academics from participating in international academic conferences and research projects, so long as the projects themselves are not based on institutional links with Israeli universities and research centers.

Moreover, being enshrined in universalist values and principles, the boycott call adopted by an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society categorically rejects all forms of racial discrimination and racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

Finally, we of course recognise and deeply appreciate the steadily increasing support for the boycott we are witnessing among Israeli academics, who have reached the conclusion that only sustained pressure on Israel and its complicit institutions can bring about a just peace.

Our struggle for justice and peace is best supported through actions that aim at ending Israel’s impunity by compelling it to respect international law and our rights. Boycott is the most effective among those.

• Dr Amjad Barham is president of the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)

Tel Aviv University – A Leading Israeli Military Research Centre

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on May 28, 2009 by Marcy Newman

“In the rough and tumble reality of the Middle East, Tel Aviv University is at the front line of the critical work to maintain Israel’s military and technological edge.

(Tel Aviv University Review, Winter 2008-9)

Introduction

Tel Aviv University (TAU) is Israel’s largest university. Like any large university, TAU hosts an extensive range of well-regarded research and teaching programmes in almost every discipline. Unlike most large universities, TAU is also heavily and openly involved in military research and development (R&D), deeming the pursuit of state security prerogatives and academic research to be harmonious enterprises at the centre of its institutional mission. The following pages offer a brief and necessarily incomplete description of just some of the current work being conducted in the dozens of TAU departments presently collaborating with the military.”

http://dada.israel.indymedia.org/usermedia/application/10/palsocontau_jan_2009_draft3.pdf

Unions Move to Overturn Israel Boycott

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on May 28, 2009 by Marcy Newman

LAST month, the Scottish Trade Unions Congress became the latest in a series of unions to call for a boycott of Israeli products. Support for boycotting, divesting from and sanctions against the Jewish state appears to be growing by leaps and bounds.

It has already won considerable support from trade unions in South Africa, Ireland, Britain and Norway. It seems unstoppable. But we intend to stop it.

TULIP – Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine – is a new global movement that believes in engaging with workers and their unions in Israel and Palestine, promoting co-operation and reconciliation.

We do not believe in boycotts, divestment and sanctions. We believe in peace and in a two-state solution to the conflict.

Our new global movement seeks allies in unions and non-governmental organisations everywhere who want to work together to demand respect for all Palestinians, Israelis and guest workers living in that region.

We believe we can take significant strides towards peace and reconciliation if we support those striving to improve the living standards of all working people in the region.

There are outstanding examples of co-operation between Israeli and Palestinian unions that need to be encouraged. For example, there’s a remarkable initiative launched by the International Transport Workers Federation to make life much easier for Palestinian drivers.

This has been a small but ground-breaking union agreement encouraging dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli national trade union centres, as well as individual unions and their members on both sides of the divide. This agreement will help improve the livelihoods of hard-working union truckers and their families.

As we write this the ITF is organising to move this important project to a higher level with the co-operation of the Israel trade union congress Histadrut and the Palestinian transport workers union.

This model is a firm rejection of those in trade unions promoting an Israel boycott movement.

This model upholds the traditional role of trade unions when faced with disputes of this kind: bridging the gap between nations at war, encouraging peace, justice and conciliation. It is a trade union tradition and role that we are particularly proud to uphold.

We also applaud the role of the International Trade Union Confederation, which has helped to broker co-operation agreements between the Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.

It is unfortunate that in recent years a number of national unions and trade union centres have changed course and abandoned that role.

Instead, they have rallied behind those Palestinians who are opposed to the peace process. Some have gone so far as to deny Israel’s right to exist and attacked the Histadrut.

In doing so, in backing the Hamas terrorists who deny Israel’s right to exist, they have thrown their support behind Iran’s power play in the region. And the Iranian regime is no friend of the trade union movement. Iran – and its Hamas puppets – have a long record of suppressing trade unions and human rights.

Those who support the boycott of Israel actually do nothing to promote peace, justice and reconciliation: in fact, they harm those who want to end the political hegemony of the extremists on both sides.

The boycott stance provides succour to the extremists in Israel and Palestine who refuse to accept the humanity of the other, who refuse to respect the right of all workers in the region to be able to build decent lives for themselves and their families in a peaceful, just and democratic climate.

In recent weeks and months a number of unions have called for boycotts and sanctions directed exclusively against Israel.

They are attempting to demonise the Jewish state, to deny it legitimacy, and to whip up hatred against it. Sometimes that hatred spills over into anti-Semitism.

Those unions are terribly wrong.

We believe the time has come for trade unionists across the world to join forces in support of genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace with justice, based on a two-state solution with secure and recognised borders.

There are already unions and associated NGOs in a number of countries that support this goal. But they are fighting this battle alone, each in their own country. It is time we united our forces.

Today we are publicly launching this new global movement, TULIP.

At the moment, the opponents of a two-state solution are on the offensive, working hard to promote their destructive agenda of boycotts and sanctions targeting Israel. It’s time for trade unionists in all countries to go on the offensive, to challenge the apologists for Hamas and Hezbollah in the labour movement.

We have no illusions that this will be anything other than a long and difficult process. But we also know that we have no choice.

We cannot abandon the field to those whose goal is the destruction of any chance for a real Israeli-Palestinian peace.

We welcome trade unionists from all countries to join us.

Paul Howes is national secretary of the Australian Workers Union; Michael J. Leahy is general secretary of Britain’s Community union; and Stuart Appelbaum is president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, representing workers in the US and Canada.

Ken Loach & Scottish PSC oppose all racism. No exceptions.

Posted in International BDS Actions on May 28, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Statement
Thursday 21 May, 2009

Ken Loach and the Edinburgh International Film Festival are to be congratulated for distancing the EIFF publicly from the unwelcome embrace of the State of Israel, a state now widely understood to be committing grave crimes against the Palestinian people. Many who would have stayed away will now feel comfortable buying tickets for showings during this important cultural event.

read full statement

TAKE ACTION:

1. Support Ken Loach and EIFF principled decision to return Israeli state money – email your letter to the editor at The Scotsman newspaper: letter_ts[at]scotsman.com
2. Email the EIFF to congratulate them on their stance for universal human rights and to support the film festival coming up in June now that Israeli state money has been returned: info[at]edfilmfest.org.uk
3. Send Ken Loach a message of support by emailing: campaign[at]scottishpsc.org.uk

Visit our website for links to latest press coverage: www.scottishpsc.org.uk

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