Archive for August, 2010

What the wall has done

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on August 31, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Jamal Juma’, The Electronic Intifada, 31 August 2010

Israel began constructing the wall in June 2002 following its invasion of cities in the West Bank, which it dubbed “Operation Defensive Shield.” In retrospect, the invasion appears to have been a prelude to the construction of the wall and no one recognized the significance of the invasion’s code name at the time. The immense scale of the 2002 invasion — characterized by the destruction of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, mass arrests, assassinations and massacres — ensured that the construction of the wall would commence with as little resistance as possible.

Accompanied by hundreds of military checkpoints, the wall solidified the dismemberment of the West Bank’s major population centers into Bantustans, separated from each other and segregated from occupied East Jerusalem. Israel’s actions were intended to enhance its control over the Palestinian people and block the establishment of a Palestinian state. The wall intentionally blurs the “Green Line,” the internationally-recognized armistice line between Israel and the occupied West Bank, thus overriding international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT). Instead of relying on international law, Israel has substituted negotiations over “disputed” territories for which it sets the terms under an American shield.

Today, Israel’s “facts on the ground” clearly display the realities of its system of apartheid:

* The wall, which will reach 810 kilometers in length, isolates 46 percent of the occupied West Bank and divides it into three large cantons and 22 small Bantustans. It cements Israel’s control over 82-85 percent of Palestinian water resources in the OPT.
* A 1,400 kilometer road network is dedicated exclusively to Israelis and separated from Palestinian roads by 48 tunnels.
* Thirty-four military checkpoints control the movement of people and goods between the different cantons and the movement of commercial traffic with Israel and the outside world.
* Industrial zones, agricultural areas and crafts workshops have been established along the wall. These Israeli, joint and international ventures aim to transform the Palestinian people into a cheap labor force dependent on the Israeli economy. Raw materials and exports are entirely Israeli while the capital is international, Israeli and Palestinian.

Palestinian civil society’s response

Grassroots and peaceful resistance against the wall started three months after construction began. The delay was due in large part to the impact of the 2002 invasion on Palestinian society. Popular committees were formed in the villages and cities of the northern West Bank where the first stage of the wall was under construction. Activists organized events, documented damages and violations and organized international campaigns, communicating and coordinating with international solidarity activists who formed human shields at key areas around the West Bank. Dozens of rallies and activities were organized in the towns and villages across the northern and central West Bank. These protests occurred throughout the week and were coordinated with visits by international solidarity activists.

The demonstrations and other events attracted international attention. The images of the wall and its route, which clearly showed the extent of Israel’s theft of vast agricultural lands and water resources as well as the immense environmental and agricultural destruction, shocked observers around the world.
However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) remained indifferent to these activities, angering many Palestinians. The PA’s silence was particularly glaring given the numerous letters and appeals by farmers, local councils and popular committees for a response. Eventually, the indifference of the elected leadership raised questions and cast doubts among Palestinians and two rallies were organized outside the prime minister’s office to protest this stance.

Following the 2003 conference convened by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in New York, the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign met with Nasser al-Qidwa, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) permanent observer at the UN. The Grassroots Campaign provided al-Qidwa with a detailed power point presentation about the wall and its consequences for the “peace process.” Al-Qidwa took action and coordinated with international organizations, seeking information from the committees, civil and formal institutions, and international institutions that monitored Israel’s violations in the OPT.

In December 2003, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to refer the case to the ICJ to seek its opinion about the legal consequences of Israel’s construction of the wall. Prior to the 14 February 2004 ICJ meeting, peaceful popular marches across the occupied West Bank increased and were met with violence and repression by the Israeli army. Five Palestinians were killed and hundreds were wounded in the villages northwest of Jerusalem, specifically from Beit Duqqu and Biddu. In anticipation of the ICJ meeting, Israel altered the route of the wall in Baqa al-Sharqiya in the Tulkarem Governorate and Beit Sourik and Qatana in the Jerusalem Governorate, restoring thousands of dunums of land it had previously confiscated (a dunum equals approximately 1,000 square meters). Meanwhile, the Israeli high court issued a ruling stating that the army should take the “human impact” of the wall on Palestinians into consideration.

Before the ICJ was due to announce its ruling in July 2004, then member of the Israeli Knesset Dr. Azmi Bishara organized a sit-in in cooperation with the Grassroots Campaign. A tent was erected at the northern entrance to Jerusalem and stood for ten days, attracting hundreds of solidarity delegations and popular committees from across historic Palestine as well as foreign and international organizations, diplomatic missions and dozens of media outlets. The tent was packed with hundreds of people around the clock and lectures and presentations were organized. However, the PA abruptly and violently shut down the tent. The PA claimed that the tent was no longer needed after the ICJ passed its ruling on 9 July 2004. In reality, the tent was becoming a source of embarrassment to the PA because it was attracting attention in the media and the public.

The ICJ opinion and its implications

The ICJ’s advisory opinion was a great boost to the Palestinian people, particularly those living in the villages, cities and communities closest to the path of the wall.

The ICJ also found — by a vote of 13-2 — that the international community was obliged not to recognize the situation resulting from the construction of the wall or to provide assistance to maintaining the status quo. It is interesting to recall that a similar conclusion over three decades ago with regard to South Africa’s occupation of South West Africa led to sanctions against the apartheid state.

In addition, the court called for all parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to compel Israel to implement its decision and reaffirmed the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to the OPT. By a vote of 14-1, the ICJ called on the UN to “consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the Wall and the associated regime.”

After it was referred to the UN, an overwhelming majority of members of the UN General Assembly endorsed the ICJ’s opinion. However, over six years later, the UN Security Council has yet to review the advisory opinion.

The advisory opinion has had implications at both the official and popular levels. In spite of the victory at the ICJ, PA officials have deliberately disregarded the advisory opinion. Each year they justify their negligence by maintaining that the political circumstances are unfavorable and that the Europeans and the Americans would not support their request to resort to the UN Security Council. While it is evident that there is considerable pressure from Israel and the US, the PA has not utilized the advisory opinion as an effective bargaining chip. Instead of relying on international law it has continued to bet on the negotiations sponsored by successive American administrations. Thus, the PA is caught in a vicious cycle: the very negotiations that they rely on for international recognition are used by the US and Israel to pressure them to abandon Palestinian rights.

The PA’s approach has had implications internationally. Because it represents the “official” Palestinian position, no nation — however friendly to the Palestinian people — is able to advocate forcefully on behalf of the Palestinians or its leadership. In other words, they cannot be “more Palestinian than the Palestinians.”

By contrast, the popular position has been and remains well ahead of the official position. From the earliest days of the wall’s construction, the Palestinian public recognized it as a colonial and racist project aimed at imposing a new geopolitical and security reality on the ground that would dramatically alter the West Bank and tighten Israel’s grip. Therefore, the strategy underpinning popular action was based on resisting Israel’s goals on the ground, creating broad international support with solidarity movements, and demanding the enforcement of international law and resolutions.

That popular resistance soon included moves toward boycotting Israel. Since 2003, civil society activists, including the Grassroots Campaign and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel have worked for an international boycott against Israel. The ICJ’s advisory opinion not only reinforced the Palestinian boycott efforts but also enabled Palestinian civil society to continue pressuring the PA to challenge Israel in international forums. Moreover, international solidarity movements began to base their demands for dismantling the Wall and settlements and ending the occupation on the ICJ’s advisory opinion.

On the first anniversary of the ICJ opinion the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) was launched by 171 Palestinian coalitions, associations, trade unions and organizations within and outside historic Palestine. This call, which is the first Palestinian consensus document since the founding of the PLO, seeks to boycott and impose sanctions against Israel to ensure its compliance with international law. Over the past five years, the BDS movement has grown in size and strength around the world and has become the international reference point for all solidarity initiatives and movements globally. The BDS call has been followed by subsequent declarations such as the 2009 Kairos Document issued by a coalition of Palestinian churches that called on churches around the world to boycott Israel. Moreover, these actions by Palestinian civil society were welcomed by international solidarity groups who were eager for a nonofficial Palestinian grassroots initiative.

The popular resistance embodied by the BDS movement and the weekly protests against the wall are the foundation upon which international solidarity is built. These grassroots efforts have pushed the confrontation with Israel’s occupation to a vital battleground: the international arena with its media, civil and official institutions, organizations, trade unions, activists, universities and even the private sector. The impact and implications of these efforts has not gone unnoticed. A recent report by the Reut Institute, an Israeli think-tank, argued that BDS represented a strategic threat to Israel.

Recommendations

These recommendations stem from the experience of the past eight years of struggle against the wall.

* The PA must end its compliance with US dictates and fully engage in the international battle against Israel as an occupying state, demanding that the UN Security Council and General Assembly implement the ICJ’s advisory opinion as well as other relevant resolutions.
* Greater coordination and organization of the BDS movement is needed internationally in order to maintain pressure on Israel.
* Within the Arab world, it is crucial to revive the Arab Boycott Committee, bringing more Arab grassroots organizations and unions on board with the BDS movement and pressuring the Arab League to withdraw its support for negotiations until the ICJ ruling is implemented in full.
* Grassroots resistance needs to be expanded to include all contact points along the wall and alongside Israeli settlements. At the same time all forms of formal and popular normalization must be stopped.
* The Palestinian citizens of Israel must resort to international judicial means to end the racism and discrimination they have been suffering for more than six decades.
* This is the way to end Israel’s occupation, dismantle the wall and destroy the deep-seated racist mentality of Israel’s leaders. This is the way to make Israel recognize that it is part of rather than above the international community.

Jamal Juma’ is a founding member of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, the Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange and the Palestinian Environmental NGO Network. Since 2002, he has been the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign.

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Boycott success in Glasgow to be rolled out across Scotland

Posted in BDS Success, International BDS Actions on August 31, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Muslim shops ban Israeli produce in Palestine protest
Boycott by Asian businesses in Glasgow’s south side
Deborah Anderson Sunday Herald 29 Aug 2010

Rizwan Khan, who owns Rizwan stores on Allison Street, dumped a box of dates after being told of their origin and is supporting the boycott. He said: “I have been wary of the dates I buy, but had been stocking Jordan Valley dates thinking these were safe.”

Customer Isahaq Ali, 50, said: “I know what to look out for when buying these items and wouldn’t give stores who stock them my custom.”

Asian shopkeepers in one of the biggest Muslim areas in Scotland are backing a boycott of Israeli produce.

In a move that has worried Jewish groups, Muslim families who own stores in Glasgow’s south side are refusing to stock Israeli goods in protest at Israel’s West Bank settlements and policy towards Palestinians.

Around 30 stores in Muslim communities in Pollokshields, Pollokshaws and Govanhill are supporting the drive and yesterday campaigners took to the streets to applaud shopkeepers who are no longer stocking Israeli products.

The campaigners, who toured stores handing out flyers to shoppers, say shops which continue to stock Israeli goods will be “named and shamed”.

Led by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Friends of Al Aqsa Glasgow, many stores in the area are now displaying posters declaring “No Israeli Produce sold here”.

Organisers say that following its success in Glasgow, the campaign is expected to be rolled out across the country.

The focus of the boycott is fruit such as dates, traditonally eaten by Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan. Some of the dates sent to the UK are produced on highly contentious Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley.

Saddaqat Khan, of Friends of Al Aqsa, Glasgow, said: “Many Muslims are unaware of this and unwittingly purchase Israeli dates, thereby supporting the Israeli economy.”

Campaigners, some draped in the Palestinian flag, held a day of action in Allison Street in Govanhill to target store owners and customers.

Rizwan Khan, who owns Rizwan stores on Allison Street, dumped a box of dates after being told of their origin and is supporting the boycott. He said: “I have been wary of the dates I buy, but had been stocking Jordan Valley dates thinking these were safe.”

Customer Isahaq Ali, 50, said: “I know what to look out for when buying these items and wouldn’t give stores who stock them my custom.”

However, Edward Isaacs, president of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, said: “We have excellent relations in the Jewish Community with our Muslim friends and we think that bringing Middle East politics into the Glasgow sphere to this extent is not a good idea. Everyone is entitled to have their views on the Middle East, but we don’t think a boycott is the correct way to advance their political process.”

Original article in Sunday Herald 29 Aug 2010

+++++++++++++++++++++

Scottish PSC adds:

* Scottish Friends of Al Aqsa took the intiative in launching this campaign and Scottish PSC will work with them and other partners across Scotland to spread this element of the growing BDS campaign.

* It is rich indeed Edward Isaacs criticising Palestine human rights activists “bringing Middle East politics into the Glasgow sphere!”

The Jewish Chronicle reported last week that “Glasgow Jewish Representative Council president, Edward Isaacs led a four person delegation” to oppose “a motion passed by the council condemning the Israeli action against the flotilla to Gaza, in which nine Turkish A previous anti-apartheid politics brought into Glasgow: Mandela Square is in the heart of Glasgow City CentreA previous anti-apartheid politics brought into Glasgow: Mandela Square is in the heart of Glasgow City Centreactivists died.”

* What business is it of a so-called representative body of Glasgow’s Jewish people to support the Israeli murders of Mavi Marmara and oppose peaceful boycott of Israeli produce? We are sure many members of Glasgow Jewish community will wish to distance themselves publicly from from their so-called “representatives” aligning Scottish Jews with the atrocious massacre of nine Mavi Marmara Turkish aid workers.

* See also:
Just as the wider community has raised a loud voice against Tony Blair’s illegal invasion and devastation of Iraq, precisely because he carried out these vile crimes in our name, it is incumbent upon our Jewish fellow-citizens to repudiate this representative of the rogue state of Israel.

* We urge Jewish supporters of Palestinian human rights to join with us both generally and in this particular intiative in order to prevent Israel and its apologists here in Scotland aligning Scotland’s Jews with Israel’s crimes.

Israeli actors to boycott new West Bank theatre

Posted in Cultural Boycott, International BDS Actions on August 31, 2010 by Marcy Newman

60 actors, writers and directors argue that performing in occupied territories would legitimise illegal settlements

* Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
* guardian.co.uk, Sunday 29 August 2010 16.45 BST

Dozens of Israeli actors, playwrights and directors have signed a letter refusing to take part in productions by leading theatre companies at a new cultural centre in a West Bank settlement, prompting renewed debate over the legitimacy of artistic boycott.

More than 60 have joined the protest over plans by Israel’s national theatre, the Habima, and other leading companies to stage performances in Ariel, a settlement 12 miles inside the West Bank. The letter, to Israel’s culture minister, Limor Livnat, says the new centre for performing arts in Ariel, which is due to open in November after 20 years in construction, would “strengthen the settlement enterprise”.

“We want to express our dismay with the intention of the theatres’ managements to perform in the new auditorium in Ariel and hereby declare that we will refuse to perform in the city, as in any other settlement.” Israel’s theatre companies should “pursue their prolific activity inside the sovereign territory of the state of Israel within the boundaries of the Green Line”.

Livnat said the boycott would cause divisions in Israeli society: “Culture is a bridge in society, and political disputes should be left outside cultural life and art. I call for the scheduled performances to be carried out as scheduled in Ariel and all over the country, as each citizen has the right to consume culture anywhere he chooses.”

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said the country was under attack by the international community – including economic, academic and cultural boycotts – and “the last thing we need at this time … is a boycott from within”.

The Habima, Cameri, Beit Lessin and Be’er Shiva theatre companies issued a joint defence of their plans, saying they “will perform in any place where there are theatre-loving Israelis, including the new cultural centre in Ariel. We respect the political views of our actors, but we’ll make sure that the best of Israeli theatre will get to Ariel”. The four companies, plus another two – the Khan and the Haifa – which have also agreed to stage productions in Ariel, all receive state funding.

Ron Nachman, the mayor of Ariel, said: “These actors get salaries from the government, which is sponsoring their theatres. You cannot take the money from the government and then decide your own policies. That is not integrity or honesty. If they disagree [with performing in Ariel], they should resign.”

It was not clear how many of the signatories were listed for planned performances in Ariel. Yousef Swaid, who is appearing in A Railway To Damascus, a production scheduled to be staged in Ariel, told Channel 1 television: “Settlers and settlements are not something that entertain me, and I don’t want to entertain them.” Rami Heuberger, who is not listed, said: “As a stage actor, it is a very, very problematic issue, and I think that so long as settlements are a controversial issue that will be discussed in any negotiations [with the Palestinians], I should not be there.”

Gideon Levy, a leading liberal Israeli commentator, backed the actors’ stance. “Yes, there is a difference between legitimate, sovereign Israel and the areas of its occupation,” he wrote in today’s Haaretz, which first reported the story. “. “Yes, there is a moral difference between appearing here and appearing there in the heart of an illegal settlement … built on a plot of stolen land, in a performance designed to help settlers pass their time pleasantly, while surrounded by people who have been deprived of all their rights.”

The Yesha Council, which represents settlers, said the actors’ letter had been signed by “army evaders and anti-Zionist leftwing activists”.

The actors’ letter follows the refusal of some international artists to perform in Israel because of its occupation of the Palestinian territories. Earlier this summer, Elvis Costello cancelled concerts in Israel, citing the “intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security”. The Pixies, Gil Scott Heron, Santana and Klaxons have also withdrawn from performances.

Ariel, home to almost 20,000 people, was founded in 1978 deep in the West Bank. Israel wants it to remain on its side of any border resulting from peace negotiations with the Palestinians. All settlements on occupied territory are illegal under international law.

Boycott Israeli products the way you boycotted Salvadoran coffee in 1990:

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on August 31, 2010 by Marcy Newman

It is from Agenda, an Ann Arbor, Michigan weekly newspaper, as published in July 1990.

SHOULD PEOPLE BOYCOTT ISRAEL? (UPDATED)

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on August 31, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Omar Barghouti explains the aims of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

CALL FOR ENDORSEMENTS AND DONATIONS FOR 2010 BDS QUEBEC CONFERENCE

Posted in International BDS Actions, Take Action on August 31, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Dear friends and allies,

On October 22 to 24, 2010, a historic conference will take place in Montreal which aims to consolidate and move forward the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid.

In 2005, over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, from trade unions to women’s groups to refugee organizations, issued a call to international civil society to engage in a comprehensive BDS campaign against apartheid Israel until Israel complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights. This call for BDS explicitly takes its inspiration from the global boycott movement which helped to end apartheid in South Africa in the 1990s.

Several Palestine solidarity organizations in Montreal have formed a committee to organize a conference intended to carry forward the momentum for BDS, which is growing daily around the world. This conference is being organized in collaboration with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) in Palestine (www.bdsmovement.net).

We are currently finalizing the plans for the conference. At this time, we are approaching individuals as well as organizations and businesses to ask for their endorsement of the 2010 BDS Conference. We are also requesting donations, which are essential to making this grassroots conference a success.

=>We need your financial support!

Our estimated budget for this historic conference is approximately $30,000This is the amount required to host a conference of this scope. Confirmed International guests already include Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the BDS National Committee (BNC), from Palestine, and the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), from Johannesburg, South Africa.

We are still confirming the participation of other international BDS activists, including a member of the Irish Confederation of Trade Unions,a professor and feminist activist from Birzeit University in Palestine,Detroit hip hop artist and BDS activist Invincible, and BDS activists from France and Norway.

:::: TO ENDORSE/DONATE ::::

Please contact info@bdsquebec.org to add your organization’s name to the list of endorsers.

If you would like to receive more information on the conference as the schedule, speakers and other details are confirmed, request to have your address added to the conference info email list.

To make a donation to the conference organizing fund, cheques may be mad eout to “Congrès BDS 2010” and mailed to:

BDS Conference 2010
4755 van Horne, suite 110
Montréal, Québec
H3W 1H8

Donations may also be made online by clicking the “Donate” link on our website: www.bdsquebec.org.

=>GET INVOLVED!

If you’d like to get involved in organizing the conference, please email info[at]bdsquebec.org to find out about our next meeting.Stay in touch

Facebook:// http://www.facebook.com/pages/BDS-Quebec/144184752270253
Twitter:// http://twitter.com/bdsquebec
Web:// http://www.bdsquebec.org

In solidarity,The BDS 2010 Conference Organizing Committee

Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)/Syndicat des travailleurs ettravailleuses des Postes (STTP)
Coalition pour la Justice en Palestine – Université du Québec à Montréal(CJP-UQÀM)
Coalition pour la Justice et la Paix en Palestine/Coalition for Justiceand Peace in Palestine (CJPP)
College and University Workers United (CUWU)
Palestinian and Jewish Unity/Palestiniens et Juifs Unis (PAJU)
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR)
Tadamon! Montreal

Conference Endorsers/Groupes qui appuient la conférence

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) (Palestine)
Al Hidaya Association
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (Vancouver)
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Toronto)
CODEPINK for Peace (USA)
Conseil central du Montreal metropolitain – Confédération des Syndicats
Nationaux (CCMM-CSN)
Faculty for Palestine (Toronto)
Fredericton Palestine Solidarity
Gauche socialiste
Holy Land Action and Awareness Task Group of Toronto Southwest Presbyteryof the United Church of Canada
Independent Jewish Voices/Voix Indépendantes Juives – Canada
Labour for Palestine (Toronto)
Palestine House (Toronto)
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (Carleton University)
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (Toronto)
Quebec Public Interest Research Group – McGill University (QPIRG McGill)
Quebec Public Interest Research Group – Concordia University (QPIRGConcordia)
Q-Team
US Palestinian Community Network
WESPAC Foundation (Westchester County, NY)

Fresh cartoon supporting boycott against Apartheid Israel

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on August 30, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Carlos Latuff

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