Archive for October, 2009

Open letter to the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge

Posted in Cultural Boycott, International BDS Actions on October 31, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Please consider signing this letter below and sending your reply back to Michael or John by Sunday November 1st at the latest, and circulating of you can.

Further to my message yesterday, I am copying below a letter to all
members of Clare College Choir which has been drafted by the UK
Palestine Solidarity Campaign and which is currently being sent around
for supporting signatures. I would be very grateful if you were
prepared to sign it (and, if so, in what capacity you would like your
name to appear); I’d likewise be very grateful if you could pass it on
to other figures in the arts and in public life in Palestine who might
be prepared to lend their support to its sentiments.

I gather that the letter will be sent out this Monday (November 2nd)
to the members of the Choir, so if you could ensure that any signatory
names reach me by Sunday evening at the latest, I’d be very grateful.

Please reply to me michael[at]choiroflondon.org or John
john[at]choiroflondon.org directly,

Very best wishes,
Michael


CHOIR OF LONDON
www.choiroflondon.org

Dear Director of Music, Timothy Brown and members of the choir,

We understand that you intend to tour Israel with the Choir of Clare
College to perform J.S. Bach’s ‘Christmas Oratorio’ between 25th and
30th December this year and we are asking you to reconsider this
decision.

Artists and musicians in Palestine, inspired by the example of the
campaign which brought an end to apartheid in South Africa, have asked
people of conscience around the world not to perform in Israel as an
act of solidarity with them. They do not do this lightly, but because
over forty years of talking have brought no meaningful results in the
implementation of international law and humanitarian law to help
Palestinians achieve an independent sovereign state.

December 27 will be the anniversary of the terrible day last year that
Israel unleashed a military onslaught on the trapped population of the
Gaza Strip. While the rest of the world will be remembering the
massacre of 1,400 Palestinian people, your choir will be performing in
the capital city of the government which perpetrated acts now regarded
as war crimes, according to the latest UN report from Judge Richard
Goldstone.

Your invitation to perform in Israel is from the Israel Camerata, a
body partially funded by the Israeli government. To accept such an
invitation is to ignore the fact that Israel is currently engaged in
the longest ever occupation of a people, an occupation declared
illegal by the United Nations. You will see nothing of the reality of
life under occupation for the Palestinian people of the West Bank,
Gaza and East Jerusalem.

The Gaza tragedy was merely the latest episode in the catastrophe
which has befallen the people of Palestine since the destruction of
their villages and the creation of hundreds of thousands of refugees
at the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948. The town of Karmiel,
where you are due to perform on December 30th, is built on land
expropriated from the Palestinian villages of Deir al-Asad, Bi’ina and
Nahf.

The fact that you have been invited to participate in the traditional
Christmas Eve carol service in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
only emphasises the publicity value to the Israeli government of this
trip. Many Palestinian Christians are denied the right to attend this
service by the Israeli government and army.

To go ahead with this tour could appear indifferent to Palestinian suffering.

Music brings a message of hope but in this instance it will be seen by
the Palestinian people as an endorsement of Israeli occupation. We
ask you again to reconsider your decision.

Signed:

SUSSEX STUDENTS VOTE TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL

Posted in International BDS Actions on October 31, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Date 30/10/09 Sussex Students’ Union first in UK to boycott Israeli goods FOLLOWING a landmark referendum, students at Sussex University have voted to boycott Israeli goods. The decision will become part of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which calls upon Israel to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine. The referendum received messages of support and thanks from Jewish and Israeli academics and non-governmental organizations that oppose Israel’s policy of occupation in Palestine. Author and scholar Norman G. Finkelstein described the referendum result as ‘a victory, not for Palestinians but for truth and justice’. Iyad Burnat- Head of Popular Commitee and-co-founder of Friends of Freedom and Justice Bil’in -Palestine The committee really appreciates Sussex Students’ Union remarkable idea of starting a boycott on Israeli goods. We hope even more people all around the world will follow by our example so that we can put an end to the israeli occupation and dismantle the apartheid wall. Any questions or requests please contact Martha Baker on 07595 700717 or Bushra Khalidi on 07964 923753—-or bel3in[at]yahoo.com

Ma’an Development Center Launches Booklet on Palestinian BDS Campaign

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Education on October 31, 2009 by Marcy Newman

The Ma’an Development Center has launched a report on the Palestinian BDS campaign under the title Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions: Lesson learned in effective solidarity

CONTENTS

WHY BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, SANCTIONS?

THE LESSONS OF BOYCOTT

1. Boycott takes time

1.2 The challenge of normalization

2. Boycott as a grassroots movement

3. Clear goals based on justice

3.1 Strategic targeting

4. Economic isolation works

4.1 The challenge of dependency

DEFINING BDS: TOWARDS A WORKING FRAMEWORK
RECOMMENDATIONS

Click here to download the report

Montrealers throw Hallowe’en party at the Bay to launch boycott of Israeli Ahava Dead Sea products

Posted in International BDS Actions on October 31, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Montreal, October 31 – On the scariest day of the year, members of Middle East solidarity groups Tadamon, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and the Québec BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Committee will be demanding that the Bay take its creepiest product, Ahava Dead Sea cosmetics, off its shelves.

Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories (www.ahava.co.il) is a privately held Israeli cosmetics company that manufactures products using minerals and mud from the Dead Sea. Ahava products are widely available in high-end department stores and pharmacies throughout the United States, Europe and Canada. But Ahava is hiding the ugly truth — its products are derived from Palestinian natural resources stolen from the occupied West Bank and are manufactured in the illegal West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Ahava’s corporate practices violate international law.

“The international campaign to boycott Ahava began in the United States and we are bringing the message to Quebecois and Canadians,” said Bill Sloan, spokesperson for the groups launching the Ahava boycott. “By selling Ahava products, The Bay is encouraging a company that benefits from the brutal Israeli system of apartheid and occupation in order to produce its goods. We are demanding that The Bay do the right thing and stop selling Ahava products.”

Today’s action at the Bay is part of a North American Day of Action against Ahava, coordinated in partnership with anti-war group CODEPINK in the USA. Montrealers are invited to wear their scariest costume to the Halloween party at the Bay and join zombies of apartheid, occupation vampires, and war crimes mud monsters at this festive public awareness action which aims to unmask the ugly truth of Israeli apartheid!

background information

The international campaign to boycott Ahava:
www.stolenbeauty.org

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid
www.bdsmovement.net

Tadamon! Montreal
email: info[at]tadamon.ca
tel: 514-664-1036

Bahrain Politicians Spar Over Israel Boycott

Posted in Anti-Normalization, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on October 30, 2009 by Marcy Newman

October 25th, 2009

The Media Line Staff

The Bahraini parliament is at loggerheads with the government because of a bill which proposes heavy prison sentences for people who conduct any kind of dealings with Israel.

The bill, set to be discussed on Tuesday, bans “any form of cooperation with the Israeli entity,” and advises that offenders be punished with a three to five year jail sentence and a fine of up to 10,000 Bahraini dinars ($26,500). The offender may also have his labor license revoked for up to ten years.

Proposed by five lawmakers from Al-Wefaq, a Shia opposition party, the bill has been endorsed by the parliament’s foreign affairs, defense and national security committees.

The Bahraini government, however, argues the bill interferes with local interests and the responsibilities of the various government ministries.

Christian Koch, director of International Studies at the Gulf Research Center, said such bills were common in the Gulf and he saw it as a domestic power struggle rather than a toughening of Bahrain’s position against Israel.

“The government doesn’t want to have its own policy-making capabilities curtailed,” Koch told The Media Line. “It doesn’t want to be told by parliament what it can and cannot do. It could simply be an internal motivation, in the sense that you don’t want to be seen to yield to an opposition group from within parliament and therefore set a precedent for other moves in the future, where opposition groups will feel emboldened to challenge the government in other areas.”

Koch argued that opposition to Israel provides lawmakers with a “very popular slogan.”

A number of Bahraini pundits have argued that the bill conflicts with Bahrain’s diplomatic responsibilities and its obligations to international organizations.

The Bahraini government said the proposed bill did not take the government’s policies into consideration in its efforts to serve the Palestinian cause.

“It also doesn’t take into consideration some of the developments that have occurred in the peace process in the Middle East,” the Prime Minister wrote in a statement, “which has lead the Arab League to make decisions that ended the secondary and tertiary boycott, and the Gulf Cooperation Council has made decisions that correspond with the Arab League decisions.”

At the same time, the Bahraini government stressed in a statement that it would maintain its “strong and fundamental position that there will be no form of normalization with Israel until after occupied Arab land has been liberated, an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is formed and a joint Arab decision is made through the Arab League regarding relations with Israel.”

Koch said that if approved the bill was unlikely to make any difference if countries in the region decided to normalize relations with Israel, as this would draw criticism in any case.

“Unless the government tries to do work ahead of time, to build a consensus and a coalition, these issues will become a test of wills between the two sides,” he said. “If they’re lucky enough to have an agreement, it doesn’t mean there won’t be problems.”

“Generally, I feel that there is strong support for the Arab peace initiative in the region,” he added. “If some MPs [members of parliament] want to use that to criticize the government and say they are going ahead on their own, it might receive some play in the press but it doesn’t mean anything in the end.”

Although there are no official diplomatic relations between Bahrain and Israel, officials of the two countries have met in international forums, such as at the World Economic Forum and at the United Nations. There are also trade relations between Israel and Bahrain, although these are usually conducted quietly so as not to draw any unwanted attention.

Bahrain is a party to the Arab Initiative, originally introduced as the Saudi Initiative in 2002. The peace plan outlines a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, under which Israel would withdraw from lands seized since 1967 and accept a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital. In exchange, Arab countries, including Bahrain, would normalize relations with Israel. The initiative was reaffirmed at an Arab League summit in Riyadh in 2007.

Article © AHN – All Rights Reserved

Conference Declaration: United in Struggle against Israeli Colonialism, Occupation and Racism

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on October 30, 2009 by Marcy Newman

United in Struggle against Israeli Colonialism, Occupation and Racism
24-25 October, 2009
Bethlehem, Palestine
Seminar Declaration

Towards the unity of all forces in struggle for boycott, divestment and sanctions for Palestine

Between the 24th and the 25th of October, 2009, the Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI), together with the Alternative Information Center (AIC), organized an international seminar in the city of Bethlehem, Palestine. The seminar gathered Palestinian, international and anti-colonial Israeli activists, researchers, and others interested in promoting justice for the Palestinian people. The seminar placed a special emphasis on the economic interests behind the occupation and the potential impact that the international campaigns for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) can make in promoting justices for the Palestinian people. The seminar aimed to review, develop, and document the Palestinian advocacy mechanisms locally and internationally, to determine the impact of such efforts so far, in addition to raising the level of cooperation and coordination amongst the various related actions and activities.

The conduct of the seminar coincided with the continuing unprecedented state of polarization within the Palestinian people. The severe and disastrous consequences of this internal dispute not only hamper the current political performance of the Palestinian people, but also do away with years of sacrifice, struggle and accomplishments. Now, the Israeli occupation is at a crossroads facing a potentially historic opportunity to continue its politics of separation and expansion on all fronts, marked by the intensification of political assassinations, arrests, restrictions on movement and basic freedoms, takeover of lands, and the construction of settlements. While the process of Judaization and isolation of Jerusalem is accelerating, Israel insists on continuing the settlement and expansion activities in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, the daily crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, and the politics of aggression and discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

In light of the decision taken by the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt the Report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone Report), the United in Struggle Seminar joins in the call on Arab, Palestinian and international civil society and official institutions to take appropriate measures to bring officials from the occupying Israeli state to justice.

The participants in the United in Struggle Seminar call for the following:

1. To immediately restore Palestinian national unity.

2. To activate the Palestine Liberation Organization in a democratic and inclusive manner that will permit the participation of all Palestinian forces and factions based on the Cairo Agreement of 2005.

3. To activate and construct Palestinian national frameworks that will reinforce the capacity of the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation and to consolidate progressive Palestinian principals.

4. To continue the efforts on all levels to hold the state of Israel and its leadership accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity in international courts and milieus.

5. To consolidate and continue the efforts to end the blockade on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

6. To firmly oppose politics and projects of normalization with Israel in the Arab world by activating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions for Palestine campaign (BDS).

7. To emphasise the 2005 invitation extended by Palestinian civil society to conscientious Israelis to support the call for BDS for the sake of justice and genuine peace.

8. To reinforce a stronger and more efficient position in the Arab states and societies to defend Jerusalem, in addition to boycotting all political, economic and cultural activities complicit with Israeli efforts to Judaize and isolate Jerusalem.

Open Letter to the International Geographical Union: Enforcing Geographies of Justice

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on October 30, 2009 by Marcy Newman

PACBI | 29 October 2009

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is deeply disturbed by the decision of the International Geographical Union (IGU) to hold its regional conference in Israel next July. We urge the IGU to relocate this conference to another venue in the region, and appeal to all geographers to refrain from participating in the conference if it is convened in Israel.

Academic and cultural boycotts can be effective measures towards putting pressure upon Israel to cease its campaign of ethnic cleansing against and colonial control over the Palestinian people and to respect international law. The 2004 PACBI call for boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions [1], like the Palestinian civil society‘s widely endorsed call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) in 2005 [2], is based on the same moral principle embodied in the international civil society campaign against the apartheid regime in South Africa: people of conscience must take a stand against oppression and use all the means of civil resistance available to bring it to an end.

At a time when the international movement to boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions is gaining ground in response to Israel’s flagrant infringement of Palestinian human and political rights, we urge you to reflect upon the implications of your decision to hold a regional conference of the IGU in Israel. As scholars, you are acutely aware that Israel has flaunted international law for several decades. Since the hegemonic world powers are active agents in acquiescence to Israel’s colonial and oppressive policies, we believe that the only avenue open to achieving justice is sustained work on the part of Palestinian and international civil society to put pressure on Israel and its complicit institutions to end this oppression.

The hosting of the conference by an Israeli geographers’ body working under the auspices of the Israeli Academy of Sciences, as well as the fact that the conference steering committee is composed of representatives of geography departments at Israeli universities, makes this an event that is firmly planted in the academic establishment in Israel.

The Israeli academy is deeply implicated in providing the ideological rationale and “scientific” basis for Israel’s colonial policies. Geography, in particular, has played for decades a decisive role in (re-)producing the Zionist imaginative geographies and mythology that has denied the existence of the indigenous people of the land – a people without a land for a land without a people – while paradoxically justifying its erasure and the colonization of its territory – maximum land, minimum Arabs. As geographer Ghazi Falah has argued, the ethnic nature of the State of Israel and the Zionist colonial ideology in which it has been shaped, transformed the science of Geography into a powerful ideological and political tool and geographers, with rare exceptions, into uncritical agents of Israeli state policy [3].

The geographical knowledge produced by the Israeli academic establishment has been essential to assemble the spatial apparatus of ethnic segregation and destruction set in place by Israel’s civilian and military structures. Like the tank, the gun, and the bulldozer, as architect Eyal Weizman has so bluntly described, spatial planning and infrastructural development provide “not only the theater of war but its very weapons and ammunition” [4]. This is what sociologist Sari Hanafi has defined as spacio-cide; the systematic targeting of the Palestinian geography as living space [5].

Geography departments at Israeli institutions provide the academic scaffolding for the policies of ethnic cleansing, exclusion, dispossession, and racial discrimination practiced against Palestinians both within Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. They are complicit, whether by active collaboration with government and regional planning authorities through consultancies and research activities, or by their tolerance for racist academics masquerading as scholars. Take the case of Arnon Sofer, the Israeli geographer at Haifa University who has proudly and consistently claimed authorship of the idea of the separation Wall that illegally cuts into the West Bank separating communities from each other, annexing to Israel the most fertile lands and richest underground aquifers. He is also well known as the prophet of the ”Arab demographic threat.”

Having Israel host the IGU regional conference under the theme “Bridging Diversity in a Globalizing World” is disingenuous to say the least. According to the conference website, “since [its] establishment, some 60 years ago, Israel has always envisaged a bridging role in the Middle East.” It claims that “no location better reflects the theme of ‘bridging diversity’” [6]. These assertions disregard at once the human suffering and material destruction brought about by the establishment of the state of Israel in historic Palestine. Israel, in its endeavor to build and “protect” a demographically exclusive Jewish state by means of outright expulsion of the indigenous inhabitants of the land, confiscation and theft of natural resources, destruction of urban and rural infrastructure, and far-reaching exclusionary and racist zoning policies, has destroyed every bridge to the indigenous people of Palestine, as well as to its Arab neighbors. Diversity is clearly incompatible with the segregationist nature of the Zionist settler colonial ideology.

Israel is lauded in the conference literature for its “imaginative ecological and environmental responses for sustaining the physical diversity of the national landscape.” The real story of Israeli colonial policy lies in the way Palestinians have been robbed of their land and water resources; the way Gaza’s aquifers have been deliberately depleted triggering further desertification; how the construction of the Apartheid Wall has broken apart natural and habitat corridors and the way it provokes periodic inundations of Palestinian agricultural fields during the rainy season; how systematic destruction and uprooting of trees ravages the environment and provides foliage for illegal Israeli settlements; and how Palestinian lands are dump sites and have became ecological minefields.

Further evidence of the local hosts’ complicity in the apartheid reality of Israel is provided in the details of the numerous “exciting field trips” offered to conference participants so they may “explore the unique diversity that is Israel.” The tours are a stark example of colonial tourism; the tours depict a land cleansed of any traces of its past—or present—indigenous inhabitants and their society and culture. Palestinians simply do not exist.

It is unimaginable for an international body of scholars to have convened a conference in South Africa under apartheid; why should it be acceptable to hold a conference of geographers in Apartheid Israel?

We call upon members of the IGU and geographers around the world to press for the conference venue to be changed. In the event that this demand is not met, we urge a widespread boycott of this conference. No self-respecting professional body should wish to ally itself with a regime of apartheid!

PACBI
www.PACBI.org
PACBI[at]PACBI.org

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