Archive for December, 2009

BDS campaigns for boycott of Israeli goods in US

Posted in International BDS Actions on December 26, 2009 by Marcy Newman

US campaigners are trying to persuade and urge investors, vendors, merchants and consumers to boycott Israeli products and services.

Members of the national Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement say since Israel’s three-week long war on Gaza at the turn of the year, more Americans are skeptical about purchasing Israeli products.

The BDS, launching a massive emailing campaign this holiday season, has provided a list containing a number of American brands for consumers to avoid due to their manufacturers’ financial ties with Israel.

“It is important to pressure a country economically when they continue to break international law, oppress people, create an apartheid system,” Gael Murphy, the co-founder of antiwar movement CODE PINK told Press TV.

CODE PINK is also engaged in the national BDS movement, targeting the Ahava cosmetics company for producing its cosmetics from natural resources excavated from the occupied West Bank.

“Going to stores that are selling these products and educate the customers who come in [would help our cause]. Don’t buy Ahava, it’s a stolen beauty, it’s a stolen product, it belongs to the Palestinian people, the Israelis are stealing it, and it should be illegal,” Murphy added.

BDS activists and organizations in the United States are targeting Americans chains like Victoria’s Secret because some of their products are produced using fabrics manufactured by Delta Galil Textile, an Israeli company.

“Politically people are beginning to connect their pocketbooks to the war machine. And if we have a choice about buying product A or buying product B…if product A is directly tied to a military apartheid regime that is defying international law hour by hour, people are going to think twice”, journalist Nora Barrow-Freidman told Press TV.

Other companies targeted by the BDS campaigners include Motorola, AT and T, L’Oreal, Calvin Klein, JC Penny, Estee Lauder, Intel, Gap, and Sara Lee.

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Veolia, Alstom in legal muddle

Posted in BDS Success, International BDS Actions on December 26, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Firms face trial over west bank project

* By Abbas Al Lawati, Staff Reporter
* Published: December 25, 2009
* Gulf News

Dubai: Two French transport giants Veolia and Alstom could face trial in France over their involvement in the Jerusalem Light Rail project that aims to link the eastern and western parts of Occupied Jerusalem to Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

Campaigners against the two companies have won a major step in a legal battle in France that they see as necessary to curb Israel’s expansion in occupied Palestine, and set a precedent for companies in Europe eyeing Israeli contracts in the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem.

Alstom was unsuccessful in preventing a Nanterre court from hearing the case against the companies when the Appeals Court of Versailles ruled on December 17 that the Nanterre court, where the case was first filed, had the jurisdiction to hear it.

A spokesperson for Alstom however told Gulf News that the company is now “considering to appeal to the French supreme court”, the Cour de cassation, in Paris.

Case origins

The case was brought against Veolia Transport, Alstom and Alstom Transport by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the advocacy group Association France-Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) in February 2007.

Proceedings against the two companies could start if they choose not to appeal to the supreme court.

“The decision sets a worrying precedent for French companies operating in occupied territory,” said Adri Nieuwhof, a Switzerland based human rights advocate who has campaigned against the two companies’ operations in Palestine.

Accountability

“This means that other companies could also be held accountable for their operations on occupied territory. The two companies would be deeply worried about this; they have been putting tremendous effort into delaying this case,” she said.

The decision comes at an important period in relations between Israel and the European Union. The EU effectively rejected Israel’s claims of sovereignty over Occupied East Jerusalem in a statement by its foreign ministers earlier this month.

The ruling is expected to embarrass the French government. France had opposed the EU declaration on the sovereignty of Jerusalem. The involvement of the French companies in the rail project also had the blessings of the government.

The deal was signed in the presence of then ambassador to Israel, and a source close to one of the companies has said that the companies were “encouraged” by the French government, then under President Jaques Chirac, to enter the contracts.

Interference

Nieuwhof said that while the independence of the French legal system is not in question, the government could try to interfere. “I don’t know how much space they will have to interfere though. The government does not want to be seen to defend those who facilitate the annexation of Jerusalem,” she said.

Campaigners say the two companies have collectively lost $7 billion in opportunity cost in Eur-ope.

The companies however continue to function in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Campaigners have appealed for Gulf states not to grant the two companies contracts for the planned pan-GCC railway project, estimated to cost up to $25 billion.

Why it’s right to boycott Israel

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Why Boycott?! on December 26, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Louise O’Shea

The horrific war carried out by Israel against the people of Gaza last January marked a turning point in world opinion with regard to the Zionist state. The devastation led even some of its apologists to question the motives and nature of the Israeli state, and strengthened the resolve of many sympathisers with the Palestinians to continue their efforts.

A recent focus for these efforts has been the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign which aims to isolate the Israeli state in a similar way that apartheid South Africa was in the decades leading up to its eventual collapse in 1994.

The campaign has so far attracted the support of the British Trade Union Council as well as numerous unions and academic organisations around the world. In response to the war on Gaza, Greek and South African dockworkers refused to service ships bound for or originating from Israel, and numerous universities have been forced to break ties with Israeli institutions under pressure from campus campaigns.

Unsurprisingly, supporters of Israel and the Western imperialist interests it represents have been quick to condemn the campaign (while happily watching on as Israel continues to blockade Gaza). Unfortunately, so too have some critics of Israel, such as the prominent Gush Shalom (Peace Now) activist Uri Avnery.

A key argument advanced in defence of this position is that the Israeli and white South African states differ in certain respects, and it is therefore not appropriate to apply similar tactics to both.

This is wrong as well as being beside the point. Both states are or were characterised by the separation of two sections of the population in order to discriminate against one of them (whether within the state or through expulsion) and by systematic racism towards those dispossessed of their rights. And both enjoy(ed) the steadfast backing of the major Western powers.

They therefore both deserve the harshest sanctions international solidarity can muster. And regardless of the precedent set by white South Africa, the genocidal policies of the Israeli government against the Palestinians would warrant such measures in their own right.

Another objection to the BDS campaign is that it will alienate Israelis, in part by evoking images of the “Don’t buy from Jews” campaign in Nazi Germany. But showing solidarity with those suffering ongoing genocide by boycotting the highly militarised, Western-backed state that is responsible for it has nothing in common whatsoever with Nazism. In reality this objection represents nothing more than a recasting of the argument made by every defender of Western imperialism in the Middle East: that to oppose Israel is anti-Semitic. This argument serves only to intimidate supporters of Palestine out of taking a stand.

Furthermore, a boycott is not primarily aimed at winning over the Israeli population, but at creating international pressure on the Israeli government to cease its persecution of the Palestinian people. There is no reason why supporters of justice in Israel should not welcome such a development.

Other critics of the BDS campaign have suggested that imposing a boycott only on Israel, when other states carry out similarly objectionable policies, is selective and hypocritical. But the boycott is not just a moral statement against Israel or its policies – it is part of an ongoing movement for liberation in Palestine. It is something that Palestinian activists themselves have called for in order to give practical expression to the widespread sympathy for their plight that exists around the world. The BDS campaign therefore represents a contribution we in the West can make to strengthening the struggle, not simply a means to demonstrate our disapproval.

The BDS campaign provides activists around the world with a focus for solidarity action, and has the potential to turn Israel into a pariah, like the campaign against apartheid South African regime did in the 1980s. Divestment and sanctions against South Africa in the late 1980s gave inspiration and encouragement to those directly challenging the regime to continue their struggle.

Insofar as this can be achieved in the case of one of the most racist and undemocratic states in the world today, it is something to be celebrated.

رفض لبناني لإسرائيل في نقابات المحامين

Posted in Anti-Normalization, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on December 24, 2009 by Marcy Newman

رضوان مرتضى

«لن نحضر إن كانت إسرائيل موجودة، وإذا حضرت فسننسحب»، هذه الكلمات اختصرت شرط نقيب المحامين في طرابلس أنطوان عيروت لحضور اجتماعات نقابات المحامين في دول حوض البحر المتوسط في مدينة نابولي الإيطالية، التي تأسس خلالها اتحاد نقابات المحامين. نقيب المحامين في طرابلس أكّد تثبيت ذلك في محاضر الجلسات أيضاً، وبالفعل رضخ الاتحاد. فقد حضر الاجتماعات ممثّلون عن نقابات المحامين لدول حوض البحر المتوسط ما عدا إسرائيل. وتجدر الإشارة إلى تغيّب كلّ من نقابتي مصر والأردن.
ألقى النقيب عيروت كلمة في هذه الاجتماعات، شكر فيها المؤتمرين «الذين رفضوا رفضاً تاماً فكرة انتساب دولة إسرائيل العدوة». فقال «إنني باسم نقابة المحامين في طرابلس لبنان، أتمنى التوفيق للمؤتمرين، والشكر للنقابة المضيفة وللنقيب كايا ولأصحاب الفكرة»، وكرر ما أكده المؤتمرون من رفض تام لانتساب دولة إسرائيل العدوّة.
النقيب عيروت أكّد حصول «وشوشات في أروقة إيطاليا بوجوب تمثيل إسرائيل»، باعتبار أنها من دول حوض المتوسط. لكنه لفت إلى إصرار لبنان على تطبيق القرارات، لأن «مشاركة إسرائيل مخالفة لقانون تأسيس الاتحاد». وذكر عيروت أن قانون الاتحاد الذي شارك لبنان في وضعه يمنع الإسرائيليين من المشاركة، وبالتالي «مشاركة إسرائيل مخالفة للقانون توجب انسحابنا».

كذلك أشار عيروت إلى «أن الهدف من تأسيس الاتحاد هو تأليف الإطار الصحيح لتوحيد جهود نقابات وهيئات المحامين على ضفتي البحر المتوسط لتعزيز الإنماء الاجتماعي والاقتصادي ولمجابهة التحديات والعراقيل في عصر العولمة والتجارة الإلكترونية». ورأى نقيب المحامين «أن تبادل الآراء والتجارب والخبرات، كان ولا يزال، العنصر الأساسي لتطوير المهنة التي باتت تنوء تحت الكثير من أخطاء العدالة المزعومة»، مشيراً إلى «أن الهدف أيضاً هو تعزيز الروابط المهنية والتقارب والتعاون وخلق مناخات ثقافية وقانونية بين الحضارات المتنوعة التي تحيط بالمتوسط».

وقد خلصت الاجتماعات إلى التوقيع على ميثاق الاتحاد والاتفاق على موعد الاجتماع المقبل الذي سيُعقد في المغرب في شهر آذار من العام المقبل 2010 ، والذي يتوقّع أن يحضره ممثلون عن جميع الدول الأعضاء. يشار إلى أن الوفد الذي مثّل لبنان في الاجتماعات، تألّف من نقيب المحامين في طرابلس أنطوان عيروت، وأمين السر سعد المقدم، ونائب مجلس النقابة ناظم العمر، إضافة إلى دوللي فرح وماري القوّال وأحمد شندب وسهير درباس.

يذكر أن المشترع اللبناني أصدر قانون مقاطعة إسرائيل بتاريخ 23/6/1955، فحظر على كل شخص طبيعي أو معنوي أن يعقد بالذات أو بالواسطة اتفاقاً مع هيئات أو أشخاص مقيمين في إسرائيل أو منتمين إليها بجنسيتهم أو يعملون لحسابها أو لمصلحتها، وذلك متى كان موضوع الاتفاق صفقات تجارية أو عمليات مالية أو أي تعامل آخر مهما كانت طبيعته. وتعدّ الشركات والمؤسسات الوطنية والأجنبية التي لها مصانع أو فروع تجميع أو توكيلات عامة في إسرائيل في حكم الهيئات والأشخاص المحظور التعامل معهم حسبما يقرر مجلس الوزراء بقرار ينشر في الجريدة الرسمية (م1).

عدد الخميس ٢٤ كانون الأول ٢٠٠٩

What is the Aim of the Gaza Freedom March? – Interview with Dr. Haidar Eid

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on December 22, 2009 by Marcy Newman

By Bianca Zammit – Gaza

As the days of December 2009 draw in, two events which each have a role to play in world peace draw closer. The first is on the 27th and is commemorating the start of the 22 day attacks on Gaza, an operation which targeted unarmed civilians, schools, hospitals, journalists and emergency staff. The second, The Gaza Freedom March will take place on the 31st. The Gaza Freedom March is a historic moment, the magnitude of which has not been seen in Palestine since 1967. Chiseled on the lessons learnt from South Africa’ struggle for liberation against apartheid and from Gandhi’ Satyagraha approach during the campaign for India’ independence, the Gaza Freedom March is walking in the same shoes.

In order to find out more about the Gaza Freedom March I met up with Dr. Haidar Eid, a member of the Steering Committee for the March in Gaza.

What is the aim of the Gaza Freedom March?

The goal of the Gaza Freedom March is to commemorate Gaza 2009. In January 2009 right after the end of operation Cast Lead we were all faced again by the deadly hermitic siege. The March is calling for an end to this siege.

How did the Gaza Freedom March come about?

In June CodePink led a delegation into Gaza and they started talking about a march. I was contacted by Palestinian solidarity groups from around the world and asked for my opinion. I liked the idea but it required a political context and it needed to be led by the people of Gaza. That is when Palestinian grassroots organizations came together to discuss the march and we suggested to the International Coalition to End the Siege that they include a statement of context which called for an end to the siege and which acknowledged the long history of Palestinian non-violent direct action inspired by South Africa and Gandhi. This includes the weekly demonstrations which take place at Bilin, Nilin and Al’ Masara, the entry of international boats in Gaza’ port which had not happened since 1967 and the work of international solidarity movements. More importantly, it has to acknowledge the growing BDS campaign.

The siege is an effect of occupation and a continuation of the apartheid system initiated in 1948. Since then two thirds of the Palestinian people have lost their land. The occupation is illegal and found to be so by the United Nations under resolution 194 which calls for the return of all refugees.

Who is represented on the steering committee?

We have all sectors of society. There are representatives of unions, labour, political, religious, youth, women, students and also Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

Who will participate?

As soon as we issued the statement of context all Palestinian civil organisations endorsed the Gaza Freedom March and there was global consensus.

The registration has now closed and 1400 people from 42 countries have registered and been processed. Palestinians living in 1948 land will also be participating in the March from the other side of the Erez Border Crossing.

What are the activities planned?

The 1400 internationals will join us hand in hand for a march that will start at 10am in Izbit Abed Rabbu towards the Erez Border Crossing with Israel. Izbit Abed Rabbu is the area which suffered the most damage and most horrendous war crimes during operation Cast Lead, something Judge Goldstone alluded to in his report. When we get to Erez there shall be speeches.

The attacks on Gaza will be commemorated New Years Eve at the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. A member of the Steering Committee for the March will address the people gathered in Bethlehem for this event.

Palestinian refugees living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan shall partake in the March by organizing their own rallies.

How can those people who cannot come to Gaza show their solidarity with the people of Gaza?

We are calling on 1.5 million conscientious people of the world to simultaneously rally with the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza in front of Israeli embassies in their country. Richard Falk, the 2008 appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories has called Gaza the “world’s largest concentration camp”. Ilan Pappe has described the siege as “slow motion genocide”. After the 22 day massacre last winter we returned to the ongoing siege.

We ask freedom loving people to put pressure on their governments to sever all ties with Israel and to support the boycott of Israel.

Why do you believe this will be a historic moment for Palestine?

The March shall be the first mass mobilization of this size since 1967. Internationals will walk hand in hand with Palestinians modeled on the South African anti-apartheid movement of the 1980’s. This siege has been imposed upon Palestinian people due to them exercising their democratic choice. The significance of this March, however, also goes beyond the siege. As Palestinians 750,000 of us have been displaced and forced to become refugees. Palestinians living in 1948 land experience racial discrimination on daily basis and there is systematic policy of ethnic cleansing in place.

What is your message to the international community?

If I could put into a slogan the current climate in Gaza I would say “we are fed up”. The international community has only given us empty rhetoric and lip service and in the meantime we have been suffering. For this reason we rely on the people of the world and their power to change the course of the future. We believe in people to people solidarity in order to bring down the Israeli apartheid regime. We want peace with justice. This March shall be the first crack, the first concrete step to end the siege and the illegal occupation. This shall be a wake up call to the international community that as Palestinians we shall no longer tolerate hypocrisy.

What is your message to Israel?

You cannot go on committing war crimes and crimes against humanity as witnessed by judge Goldstone with impunity forever. Recent events in the UK against Livni have shown that also the world will not tolerate Nazi like acts committed by a Nazi like government against civilians.

To the people of Israel I say you voted for the most fascist government since 1948 expecting your government to completely get rid of Palestinians. History has shown us that this will only backfire and bring more wars affecting not only Palestinians but the entire Middle East and inevitably Israel. Exactly like apartheid South Africa campaigned when their state became a pariah state; this is your time to put pressure on your government to implement the UN resolution which calls for an end to the occupation and allows the return of refugees. Peace without justice is not peace.

What will happen after the March?

The March is not symbolic but rather we expect it to be part of a series of events which will lead to the end of the siege. We want to intensify and continue building a global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign which is human rights based and calling for the implementation of international law and an end to the occupation.

We will continue to host international delegations visiting us and together we will be calling for Israeli war criminals to be tried in international courts.

– Bianca Zammit is a member of the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza and of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

Long Live Gaza: Remembering one year since the massacre

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on December 22, 2009 by Marcy Newman

One year ago, Israel launched ‘Operation Cast Lead’ – intense and unprecedented attacks on the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. The war crimes of this assault are part of a wider context: the continuing illegal blockade as well as Israel’s apartheid system of control of the Palestinians. Learn the facts – then act.

Omar Barghouti: BDS as response to repression of Palestinian nonviolence

Posted in International BDS Actions on December 22, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Many of you have already heard of the most recent arrest by Israel of a leader of Palestinian nonviolent resistance to occupation and apartheid. Our allies at Stop the Wall have information and action steps that you can take to demand the release of Jamal Juma’, who joins Mohammad Othman and Abdallah Abu Rahmeh in the current list of Palestinian nonviolent resisters being held in administrative detention, with no charges and no trial.

Omar Barghouti, a leader in the BDS movement and a speaker at the US Campaign’s last National Conference, has this to say about how human rights advocates should respond to this latest campaign of repression against nonviolent resistance to occupation and apartheid:

“This Israeli campaign of repression needs to be exposed and countered effectively and comprehensively. Appeals to the Israeli authorities to respect due legal process or release Jamal should not be the only form of protest over this gross violation of Palestinian rights. Intensifying BDS, ultimately, is the most consequential form of protest. If Israel gets the message that its arrest of civil resistance leaders will only intensify the already massive BDS campaigns against it, it may think.”

How can you “intensify the already massive BDS campaigns” against Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights?

Here are three suggestions:

1) If you haven’t already, sign the Motorola boycott pledge, and sign up to receive a Hang Up on Motorola organizing packet. Incorporate the resources in the organizing kit into your Gaza Freedom March solidarity actions or other local events in your community.

2) Introduce BDS to your campus, union, or faith community. Use our resources for campus organizing, the call from the Palestinian Christian community for churches to participate in BDS, resources for starting a divestment campaign and examples of BDS in action, and the recent open letter from Labor for Palestine to AFL-CIO.

3) Ask your organization to endorse the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). If you are a faculty member at an academic institution or a cultural worker, you can individually endorse the USACBI call. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation officially endorsed academic and cultural boycott at its 2009 National Organizers’ Conference.

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