Archive for September, 2010

Letter from Gaza Academics and Students: Eight American Universities Normalize Occupation, Colonization and Apartheid!

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Normalization, Take Action on September 25, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Besieged Gaza,

24.September.2010

At a time when the Israeli ongoing crimes against us the Palestinians are at their most visible, their most documented and their most condemned by civil society around the world, we were shocked to learn of the plans by the Universities of Harvard, Columbia, Michigan, Maryland, Florida, Washington, Miami and New Jersey City to offer semester long free programs to American students in Israel at the Jerusalem Hebrew University, Haifa University, The Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center and Carmiel.[1]

Where do we Palestinian students fit into these plans? How are we supposed to believe that such reputed US academic institutions abide by their own codes of conduct when they embrace Israeli academic institutions that contribute on various fronts to the ongoing injustices committed against us each day? The very institutions that remained quiet while their government for three weeks over the New Year of 2009 dropped white phosphorous bombs over us in Gaza, killed over 1443 civilians, including 430 children, bombed our hospitals, roads and bridges and violently attacked an array of our own educational institutions?

Facts speak for themselves: more than 37 primary and secondary schools including 18 schools serving as shelters for the internally displaced were hit, the American International school was turned to rubble, and four buildings of the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) demolished.[2] Israeli claims that the IUG’s science laboratories were used “to make weapons” was categorically refuted by forensic evidence. There is on the other hand no dispute about the American origin of the F15s, F16s, and Apache helicopters used to bomb and kill the 1443 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians according to the UN Goldstone report [3] and every other human rights report. No dispute on the use of white phosphorous, ‘flechette’ nail bombs and tungsten, all deemed illegal by International Human Rights law and the Geneva Conventions. The Goldstone report listed count after count of international law contraventions, Israeli “war crimes” and “possible crimes against humanity,” not that we should need such a qualification given the horrific numbers of children and women slaughtered in the attack, or crippled thereafter.

Moreover, the collaboration between Israel’si academy and its military and intelligence services has now reached the point of establishing strategic studies institutions, think tanks and entire security studies departments and institutes, many of which are located at or affiliated with the universities involved in this collaboration.

This might explain why Israeli academic Institutions have for so long remained silent on the crimes their state is committing. A report released by the Alternative Information Center in October 2009 titled “Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories”[4] concludes that, “Israeli academic institutions have not opted to take a neutral, apolitical position toward the Israeli occupation but to fully support the Israeli security forces and policies toward the Palestinians, despite the serious suspicions of crimes and atrocities hovering over them.”

All the Israeli universities were found to be involved in supporting the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank in a myriad of ways. The report describes how 2 of the potential partner institutions to the 8 US Universities; Haifa and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have sponsored various academic programs for Israeli military reserves, granted scholarships to students who served in the Israeli attack on Gaza, and maintain ties to leading Israeli weapons manufacturers. One of the two campuses of the Hebrew University was built in occupied East Jerusalem, in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In contrast, the ongoing Israeli siege has shattered Gaza’s education system. There is a dire shortage of books and educational equipment, prevented from entering the Gaza Strip. Students awarded scholarships to universities abroad continue to be blockaded within the strip turning their deserved prospects of academic achievement into a lost dream. Within Gaza, those seeking an education are limited by increasing poverty rates and a scarcity of fuel for transportation, again direct results of Israel’s medieval siege.

Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands is the most enduring since WWII. The Israeli Occupation Forces have demolished over 24,000 Palestinian homes [5] since 1967 and continue this policy in the name of expansion of Jewish neighborhoods at the expense of the local Palestinian Arab population. Israel is in full violation of UN Security Council resolution 242[6] by occupying Palestinian lands, UNSC resolution 194[7] by denying the 7 million Palestinian refugees their right to return to their homes, the Geneva Conventions Article 49[8] by settling these occupied lands and article 33[9] through its current collective punishment of 1.5 million Gazans placed under a siege denounced by the European Union, the United Nations and all Human Rights groups, but ongoing nevertheless. Since the United Nations in 1948, dominated by the colonial powers of the era, agreed to Israel’s founding on the ruins of Palestinian refugees and the destruction of 531 Palestinian towns and villages[10], Israel has since violated more United Nations Resolutions than any other UN member state.[11]

Most recently the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission on the Freedom Flotilla raid[12] has concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian territory was unlawful due to the humanitarian crisis there and that during and after the raid, Israeli forces committed, “a series of violations of international law, including international and human rights law,” including, “willful killing and torture”. The report concluded that, “The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel toward the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality.”

The U.S. in theory has some of the strictest arms export laws. On arms and human rights, Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act[13] mandates that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” Yet the US continues to give 6 billion $ of aid and weapons grants to Israel every year, more than is received by the entire continent of Africa.

In light of these ongoing, yet unanswered crimes and in the immediate aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, the United States Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USCABI)[14] was launched. Based on the 2004 call issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)[15], and the Palestinian Boycotts Divestment (BDS) call of 2005[16], the movement has grown relentlessly. Today, over 500 US-based academics have endorsed their call for boycotts Writers such as Johan Berger, Archbishop Desmund Tutu, Arundhati Roy, Ahdaf Soueif, universities, trade unions, companies, and international artists including Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, the Pixies, Carlos Santana, Ken Loach and Massive Attack have all joined the BDS movement.

This boycott, modeled upon the global BDS movement that put an end to South African apartheid, is to continue until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

We demand boycotts of Israel until it complies with international law, and until justice and accountability are reached. Like the Blacks of South Africa and African Americans, we can never accept compromise on basic human rights.

The history of American academic institutions against apartheid is telling. During the South African divestment efforts, Columbia University disinvested from the Apartheid regime as early as 1978 after a major student mobilization. Harvard University on the other hand did not disinvest until the final year of Apartheid in 1989. The consensus since has fortunately proved that until the last the latter institution stood on the wrong side of history. There is now an opportunity to cut all ties with Israeli academia, to join the call for boycotts of what the United Nations Special Rapporteur John Dugard described as the only remaining case after South Africa, “of a Western-affiliated regime that denies self-determination and human rights to a developing people and that has done so for so long.”[17]

Given Israeli academia’s entrenched involvement in such a long-running subjugation of a people along medieval lines of race and religion, we would expect the US institutions and all those around the world to follow the call of Archbishop Desmond Tutu; to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israeli Academic Institutions. Normalizing and accepting another apartheid regime and Israel’s full spectrum of well documented crimes against humanity is a threat to justice anywhere, and another wretched endorsement of denying basic human rights from us, the expelled, imprisoned, and still grieving Palestinians. We hope that these institutions will reconsider their decision.

Besieged Gaza,

University Teachers’ Association in Palestine (UTA)

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

References

[1] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3955118,00.html

[2] http://jordantimes.com/?news=14035

[3] http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/docs/UNFFMGC_Report.pdf

[4] http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10945.shtml

[5] http://www.icahd.org/?page_id=76

[6] http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/4559531.html

[7] http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/6654234.html

[8] http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/WebART/380-600056

[9] http://gisha.org/UserFiles/File/publications/GazaClosureDefinedEng.pdf

[10] http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/ref-nakba.html

[11] http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2009/09/26/israel-nation-has-violated-more-un-resolutions-all-other-countries-mid-east-put-toge

[12] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/23/un-panel-israel-war-crimes

[13] http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=18136

[14] http://usacbi.wordpress.com/?ref=spelling

[15] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869

[16] http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52

[17] http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6602.shtml

SOUTH AFRICAN ACADEMICS CALL FOR UJ TO TERMINATE RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAELI INSTITUTION

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, Take Action on September 25, 2010 by Marcy Newman

PETITION to sever links with Ben Gurion University

www.ujpetition.com

This petition was first disseminated on the 05th of September, within two days it was signed by over 100 South African academics from more than 12 SA universities. To date it has more than 200 signatories from 22 academic institutions.

Supported by: Professors Kader Asmal, Allan Boesak, Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Mahmood Mamdani, Barney Pityana and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

As members of the academic community of South Africa, a country with a history of brute racism on the one hand and both academic acquiescence and resistance to it on the other, we write to you with deep concern regarding the relationship between the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The relationship agreement, presented as ‘merely the continuation’ of a ‘purely scientific co-operation’ is currently being reviewed owing to concerns raised by UJ students, academics and staff.

As academics we acknowledge that all of our scholarly work takes place within larger social contexts – particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of ‘purely scholarly’ or ‘scientific work’.

The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has had disastrous effects on access to education for Palestinians. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation. BGU is no exception, by maintaining links to both the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and the arms industry BGU structurally supports and facilitates the Israeli occupation. An example of BGU’s complicity is its agreement with the IDF to provide full university qualification to army pilots within a special BGU programme. Furthermore, BGU is also complicit in the general discrimination at Israeli universities against Palestinians and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

It is clear to us that any connection with an institution so heavily vested in the Israeli occupation would amount to collaboration with an occupation that denigrates the values and principles that form the basis of any vibrant democracy. These are not only the values that underpin our post-apartheid South Africa, but are also values that we believe UJ has come to respect and uphold in the democratic era.

We thus support the decision taken by UJ to reconsider the agreement between itself and BGU. Furthermore, we call for the relationship to be suspended until such a time that, at minimum, the state of Israel adheres to international law and BGU, (as did some South African universities during the struggle against South African apartheid) openly declares itself against the occupation and withdraws all privileges for the soldiers who enforce it.

– Prof Neville Alexander

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Peter Alexander

(University of Johannesburg)

– Dr Stephanie Allais

(University of Edinburgh)

– Dr Shireen Ally

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Waheeda Amien

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Kader Asmal

(University of the Western Cape)

– Ivor Baatjes

(University of Johannesburg)

– Dr Nasima Badsha

(Cape Higher Education Consortium)

– Shahana Bassadien

(University of Johannesburg)

– Umesh Bawa

(University of the Western Cape)

– Dr Rashid Begg

(Stellenbosch University)

– Prof Jane Bennet

(University of the Cape Town)

– Dr Shamim Bodhanya

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Prof Allan Boesak

(Stellenbosch University)

– Prof Patrick Bond

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Prof Nico Botha

(Stellenbosch University)

– Prof Breyten Breytenbach

(New YorkUniversity)

– Dr Andrea Brigaglia

(University of the Cape Town)

-Prof Heather Brookes

(University of Johannesburg)

– Dr Mariza Brooks

(University of the Free State)

– Imraan Buccus

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Prof Ronelle Carolissen

(Stellenbosch University)

– Claire Ceruti

(University of Johannesburg)

– Dr Janet Cherry

(Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)

– Denzil Chetty

(University of South Africa)

– Nicola Cloete

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Jim Cochrane

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Jacklyn Cock

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Ampie Coetzee

(University of the Western Cape)

– Dr Linda Cooper

(University of the Cape Town)

– Stanford Cronje

(Cape Peninsula University of Technology)

– Prof Yousuf Dadoo

(University of South Africa)

– Prof Suleman Dangor

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Dr Marcelle Dawson

(University of Johannesburg)

– Prof John Dugard

(Leiden University)

– Vusumzi Duma

(University of Fort Hare)

– Prof Jane Duncan

(Rhodes University)

– Nazeem Edwards

(Stellenbosch University)

– Prof Piet Erasmus

(University of the Free State)

– Dr Zimitri Erasmus

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Farid Esack

(University of Johannesburg)

– Dr Ahmed Essa

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Prof Faadiel Essop

(Stellenbosch University)

– Prof Aslam Fataar

(Stellenbosch University)

– Judy Favish

(University of the Cape Town)

– Dr Washiela Fish

(University of the Western Cape)

– Dr Tony Fluxman

(Rhodes University)

– Dr Kally Forrest

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Steven Friedman

(University of Johannesburg)

– Dr Faaiz Gierdien

(Stellenbosch University)

– Dr Kelly Gillespie

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Clive Glaser

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Daryl Glaser

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Sulaiman Gool

(University of the Western Cape)

– Prof Keith Gottschalk

(University of the Western Cape)

– Prof Pumla Gqola

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Ran Greenstein

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Janis Grobbelaar

(University of Pretoria)

– Dr Jonathan Grossman

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Cornie Grownewald

(Stellenbosch University)

– Dr Heidi Grunebaum

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Mohamed Haffajee

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Prof Muhammed Haron

(University of Botswana)

– Dr Monica Hendricks

(Rhodes University)

– Prof Fred Hendricks

(Rhodes University)

– Zubeida Jaffer

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Jeff Jawitz

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Mohamed Jeebhay

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Jennifer Jelsma

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Shamil Jeppe

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Iqbal Jhazbhay

(University of South Africa)

– Nadeema Jogee

(University of the Cape Town)

– Cyril Julie

(University of the Western Cape)

– Zuhayr Kafaar

(Stellenbosch University)

– Prof Ashraf Kagee

(Stellenbosch University)

– Dr Feroza Kaldine

(University of Johannesburg)

– Prof Andre Keet

(University of Pretoria)

– Prof Bridget Kenny

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Fazel Khan

(Durban University of Technology)

– Dr Saadika Khan

(University of the Western Cape)

– Prof Sultan Khan

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Prof Gilton Klerck

(Rhodes University)

– Prof Elize Koch

(Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)

– Mariana Kriel

(University of the Free State)

– Prof Johannes Kritzinger

(University of South Africa)

– Prof Antjie Krog

(University of the Western Cape)

– Dr Simangaliso Kumalo

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Prof Premesh Lalu

(University of the Western Cape)

– Dr Lis Lange [Dir]

(Council for Higher Education)

– Dr Clint Le Bruyns

(Stellenbosch University)

– Prof Lesley Le Grange

(Stellenbosch University)

– Annie Leatt

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Martin Legassick

(University of the Western Cape)

– Dr Llewellyn Leonard

(University of Johannesburg)

– Kezia Lewins

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Suzana Molins Lliteras

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Gerrie Lubbe

(University of South Africa)

– Lwazi Lushaba

(University of Fort Hare)

– Rev Solomuzi Mabuza

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Dr Nawaz Mahomed

(Cape Peninsula University of Technology)

– Tasneem Majam

(University of Johannesburg)

– Prof Anwar Mall

(University of the Cape Town)

– Ayesha Mall

(Durban University of Technology)

– Sue Marais

(Rhodes University)

– Maud Marcinkowski

(University of the Free State)

– Mohamed Shaid Mathee

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Achille Mbembe

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Ebrahim Moosa

(Duke University)

– Prof Najma Moosa

(University of the Western Cape)

– Prof Nicky Morgan (DVC)

(Central University of Technology)

– Aidan Mosselson

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Enver Motala

(University of Johannesburg)

– Makhwênkwe Mvalo

(Cape Peninsula University of Technology)

– Dr Munene Mwaniki

(University of the Free State)

– Dr Lubna Nadvi

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Prof Rajen Naidoo

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Prof Andrew Nash

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Cobus Naude (Rtd.)

(University of Johannesburg)

– Dr Nadia Navsa

(University of Pretoria)

– Trevor Ngwane

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Dr Pamela Nichols

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Dr Noor Nieftagodien

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Dr Dhiraj Kumar Nite

(University of Johannesburg)

– Lulamile Ntonzima

(Cape Peninsula University of Technology)

– Dr Monde Ntwasa

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Dr Rashied Omar

(University of Notre Dame)

– Prof Ruksana Osman

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Dr Sven Ouzman

(University of Pretoria)

– Abdool Peer

(University of Johannesburg)

– Dr Fathima Peerbhay

(University of the Western Cape)

– Prof Gonda Perez

(University of the Cape Town)

– Gadija Petker

(University of Johannesburg)

– Prof Innocent Pikirayi

(University of Pretoria)

– Prof Kriben Pillay

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Dr Suren Pillay

(Human Sciences Research Council)

– Richard Pithouse

(Rhodes University)

– Prof Barney Pityana (VC)

(University of South Africa)

– Dr Leonard Praeg

(Rhodes University)

– Prof Aminur Rahim

(University of Fort Hare)

– Brian Ramadiro

(University of Fort Hare)

– Dr Thiven Reddy

(University of the Cape Town)

– Megan Riley

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Christian Rogerson

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Monty Roodt

(Rhodes University)

– Dr Shamiel Salie

(University of the Cape Town)

– Dr Vishwas Satgar

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Dr Ursula Scheidegger

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Cassim Seedat

(Durban University of Technology)

– Fatima Seedat

(McGill University)

– Dr Fredrico Settler

(University of the Cape Town)

– Dr Sa’diyya Shaikh

(University of the Cape Town)

– Prof Mala Singh

(Open University)

– Dr Luke Sinwell

(University of Johannesburg)

– Dr Tahir Fuzile Sitoto

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Donato Somma

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Roger Southhall

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Dr Jane Starfield

(University of Johannesburg)

– Prof Raymond Suttner

(University of South Africa)

– Prof Leslie Swartz

(Stellenbosch University)

– Dr Pedro Tabensky

(Rhodes University)

– Prof Abdulkadar Tayob

(University of the Cape Town)

– Yasmeen Thandar

(Durban University of Technology)

– Prof Beverly Thaver

(University of the Western Cape)

– Prof Fiona Tregenna

(University of Johannesburg)

– Prof Rehana Vally

(University of Pretoria)

– Salim Vally

(University of Johannesburg)

– JC van der Merwe

(University of the Free State)

– Maria van Driel

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Robert van Niekerk

(Rhodes University)

– Carina van Rooyen

(University of Johannesburg)

– Prof Shahid Vawda

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Dr Wilhelm Verwoerd

(Stellenbosch University)

– Prof Shabbir Wadee

(Stellenbosch University)

– Prof Everard Weber

(University of Johannesburg)

– Prof Gerald West

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

– Dr Hylton White

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Prof Hein Willemse

(University of Pretoria)

– Dr Clarence Williams

(University of the Western Cape)

– Dr Michelle Williams

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Ben Winks

(University of Johannesburg)

– Prof Leslie Witz

(University of the Western Cape)

– Prof Tahir Wood

(University of the Western Cape)

– Prof Eric Worby

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Dr Leo Zeilig

(University of the Witwatersrand)

– Rev Sthembiso Zwane

(University of KwaZulu-Natal)

*INSTITUTIONAL NAMES ARE FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES ONLY.

New pressure on UJ to sever Israel ties

Posted in International BDS Actions on September 25, 2010 by Marcy Newman

DAVID MACFARLANE | JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – Sep 24 2010 06:00

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Unisa vice-chancellor Barney Pityana and author Breyten Breytenbach have added their voices to calls for the University of Johannesburg to sever academic ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The cooperation between the two universities dates from the 1980s, when the local partner was called Rand Afrikaans University. The agreement now under fire involves scientific interaction and was signed in August last year, renewing a controversial apartheid-era collaboration, its critics say.

On Wednesday next week UJ’s senate will hear recommendations on the future of the university’s ties with Ben-Gurion.

The Mail & Guardian reported in May that the senate had debated the matter then and had asked a senate subcommittee headed by deputy vice-chancellor Adam Habib to make recommendations within three months.

“We have concluded our deliberations and arrived at recommendations,” Habib told the M&G. “It has taken a long time because the matter is highly contested. And I can’t say what our senate will decide.”

Tutu, Pityana and Breytenbach are recent signatories to an online petition launched after the May senate meeting. It calls for “the suspension of UJ’s agreement with Ben-Gurion” and this week had notched up nearly 200 signatories.

Law professor John Dugard, theologian Allan Boesak, ANC stalwart Kader Asmal, struggle veteran and language-rights expert Neville Alexander, poet Antjie Krog, former Freedom of Expression Institute director Jane Duncan and Wits University sociologist Ran Greenstein are among other recent additions to the petition.

Leading the fight to retain ties with Ben-Gurion is the South African Associates of Ben-Gurion University, whose chairperson, Herby Rosenberg, told the M&G he had thought the senate meeting in question would be held late in October and he would “need to make inquiries” before commenting.

His organisation’s president, Bertie Lubner, was on a plane and unavailable, he said. The associates arranged that local advocate David Unter-halter and Ben-Gurion professor Ilan Troen argue in the May senate meeting for retaining ties with UJ, the M&G reported at the time.

The petition’s signatories come from a range of local universities and identify themselves as “the academic community of South Africa, a country with a history of brute racism on the one hand and both academic acquiescence and resistance to it on the other”.

“The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has had disastrous effects on access to education for Palestinians,” the petition reads.

“While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintainingthe occupation.”

By virtue of its ties with the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and the arms industry, Ben-Gurion “structurally supports and facilitates the Israeli occupation”, the petition says.

One example of its “complicity is its agreement with the IDF to provide full university qualification to army pilots within a special [Ben-Gurion] programme,” it says.

The petition calls on UJ’s senate to suspend the relationship with Ben-Gurion until, “as a minimum”, Israel “adheres to international law and … as did some South African universities during the struggle against South African apartheid, openly declares itself against the occupation and withdraws all privileges for the soldiers who enforce it”.

BDS Campaign – Boycott Israel Movement Grows

Posted in BDS Success, Cultural Boycott, International BDS Actions on September 22, 2010 by Marcy Newman

By Eric Walberg
9-21-10

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign moves ahead in Washington, California, British Columbia, Harvard and Brown Universities, and the Netherlands, notes Eric Walberg

In July, in Rachel Corrie’s hometown of Olympia, Washington state, the popular Food Co-op announced that no Israeli products would be sold at its two grocery stores. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a principal endorser of this new Israel Divestment Campaign, issued a statement endorsing the boycott. “The Olympia Food Co-op has joined a growing worldwide movement on the part of citizens and the private sector to support by non-violent tangible acts the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination.”

In a surprise move in August, Harvard University divested itself of all its Israel investments, almost $40m worth of shares, including Pharmaceutical Industries, NICE Systems, Check Point Software Technologies, Cellcom Israel and Partner Communications. Initially, Harvard gave no explanation for its actions to the SEC. John Longbrake, spokesman for Harvard, maintained that Harvard has not divested from Israel, that these changes were routine and did not represent a change in policy. But was Harvard in fact caving under BDS calls and trying to do so as quietly as possible to avoid a Zionist backlash? In the past, Harvard has divested from companies for purely political reasons, but they did so publicly. For instance, five years ago, Harvard divested from PetroChina in order to protest China’s actions in Sudan.

In Vancouver, Canada, port truck traffic slowed to a crawl in late August as a group of about 50 protesters approached drivers with leaflets asking them to observe the world boycott campaign against Israel, and in particular to refuse to unload the Israeli container ship Zim Djibouti, one of the largest in the world, that had landed in Vancouver harbour. “This action was part of the growing international campaign to pressure Israel to comply with international law and stop killing innocent civilians,” said Gordon Murray, spokesperson for the Boycott Israeli Apartheid Coalition (BIAC). “Workers in South Africa, Scandinavia, the United States, Turkey and India have already responded to the Palestinian call for action,” said BIAC spokesman Mike Krebs. “The international solidarity movement has decided that the best way to change Israel’s behaviour is to take actions against Israeli companies and institutions in order to put pressure on the government there.”

In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor earlier this year, Jonathan Ben Artzi, a PhD candidate at Brown University and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nephew, made clear his belief that equality and social justice will prevail in Israel when the government and people of the United States adopt a no-tolerance stance toward Israel’s abuse of Palestinians. Ben Artzi, whose family has lived in the region for nine generations, and who’s seen a lifetime of Israel’s abuse of Palestinians, declared: “Sometimes it takes a good friend to tell you when enough is enough. As they did with South Africa two decades ago, concerned citizens across the US can make a difference by encouraging Washington to get the message to Israel that this cannot continue.” His reference to South Africa was to the protests, boycotts and divestment actions in the US between 1984 and 1989, which ultimately forced the white minority South African government to relinquish control over its oppressed Black majority. Ben Artzi served 18 months in prison for refusing his mandatory service in Israel’s military.

The California Israel Divestment Campaign launched a campaign on 8 September for a California ballot initiative in November requiring public employee and teacher pension funds to divest from business activities in Israel. Said local campaign organiser Sherna Gluck, a member of the Public Employee Retirement System: “Our public retirement systems have more than $1.5 billion invested in at least eight companies that provide war materials and services used in violation of internationally recognised human rights, including support for the illegal Israeli settlements and the Separation Wall.” Archbishop Tutu told the Californians: “We defeated apartheid nonviolently because the international community agreed to support the disinvestment in apartheid campaign. A similar campaign can help to bring peace in the Middle East and do so nonviolently.”

This is the just the first divestment launch in California. Similar launches in other California cities are soon to come. With this divestment campaign, Californians are poised to spark a state-by-state divestiture movement to parallel the anti-Apartheid campaign that helped defeat the oppressive rule in South Africa.

The Dutch government too has set an important precedent for European and indeed world governments. It dropped a bomb this week when the Foreign Ministry cancelled a tour of mayors from Israel planned for October. The forum is funded by the Joint Distribution Committee, a Jewish-American charity, and the participant list included representatives from West bank settlements Efrat and Kiryat Arba in “Judea” and “Samaria”. The Israeli Foreign Ministry harrumphed: “This is undoubtedly useless and harmless politics, and we hope that this is not the final word on the topic.”

Well, I hope it is. The Netherlands has become notorious for the Islamophobia whipped up by Dutch politician and filmmaker Geert Wilders, who proudly says “I hate Islam,” calls the Quran a “fascist book” and the Prophet Mohamed “the devil”. He argues that Muslim immigration is a “Trojan Horse”. His words are being echoed by Israeli politician Aryeh Eldad, who condemned the boycott move: “The Dutch surrender to the Arabs reflects their surrender to the Muslim minority.” This principled move by the Dutch, clearly an attempt to fight the negative image of the Netherlands, will give pause for thought to all governments. Israel Local Council Chairman Shlomo Buchbut rightly concludes: “The decision by the Netherlands puts the [Israeli-Arab] conflict before anything else.”

***

Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/

Celebrities cultural boycotting Israel

Posted in BDS Success, Cultural Boycott, International BDS Actions on September 22, 2010 by Marcy Newman

The issue of Israeli settlements has captured attention far beyond the arena of international politics.

Several celebrities have now thrown their weight behind what is being termed a “cultural boycott” against further building on Palestinian land.

But with Israel’s construction freeze due to expire at the end of the month, there are doubts that these efforts will make any impact.

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports.

Boycott Israel and make a difference

Posted in BDS Success, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on September 22, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Dutch rejection of colony ‘mayors’ is part of a worldwide refusal to tolerate Tel Aviv

The Dutch government should be strongly congratulated on standing up for international law, and stopping five ‘mayors’ of illegal Israeli colonies on the West Bank from joining other Israeli mayors in taking part in a professional study tour in the Netherlands in October. All 40 mayors have since cancelled their trips. The Dutch approach is logical: these colonies are illegal and the authorities who oversee them are breaking international law and taking part in the continuing brutal occupation of Palestine. They should not be included in the accepted international network of communities.

Such checks to Israeli arrogance may seem small, but thousands of such actions will add up to a ringing international condemnation of terror. Israel has become accustomed to being the supreme military power in the region: its forces act without restraint; it arrests whoever it wants with little reference to law; and it continues programmes of collective punishment on the Palestinian civilian population with horrifying consequences. It feels that it can do what it wants without fear of retribution or consequence.

As part of this arrogance, the Netanyahu government has a policy of continuing to support the illegal colonies. As it goes through the motions of the direct talks with the Palestinians, it is not talking of withdrawing from any Palestinian land, nor is it talking of knocking down any buildings. In fact, it is talking of ending the moratorium and starting to build yet more colonies.

In response to this situation, 180 Palestinian organisations and unions have called for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Apartheid Israel. This BDS movement deserves widespread support and all people should be encouraged to join in. The Trades Union Congress in Britain passed some powerful motions in support of the BDS movement at its annual meeting this week. Around the world, people in all walks of life have the opportunity to show they reject Israel’s occupation.

UMass Boston Faculty Call on TIAA-CREF to Divest from Israeli Occupation

Posted in International BDS Actions on September 20, 2010 by Marcy Newman

September 20, 2010 – Faculty and staff at the University of Massachusetts Boston asked the non-profit investment firm TIAA-CREF to divest its holdings from companies that do business with the Israeli Occupation at the company CEO’s public address on campus last Monday.

Faculty presented TIAA-CREF CEO Roger Ferguson with a letter requesting that the firm withdraw its funds from five companies that arm and profit from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. These five companies are: Caterpillar, whose bulldozers Israel uses to demolish Palestinian homes; Motorola, which manufactures the surveillance equipment Israel uses in its vast network of checkpoints in the West Bank and in tandem with its Separation Wall; Elbit Systems, which manufactures drones used to kill Palestinian civilians; Veolia, a company hired to design a light rail system to connect the illegal settlements proliferating in the West Bank with one another as well as with Jerusalem, and Northrup Grumman, which manufactures weapons, missiles, and helicopter parts.

The letter was signed by 80 UMass Boston faculty and staff. It was presented during the question and answer period following Ferguson’s address. A faculty member spoke on behalf of the letter’s signatories, asking Ferguson how he reconciled his company’s commitment to serving the greater good with its investment in these five companies. He responded that he is accountable to all of his clients and is currently in the phase of “listening” to hear what investors on all sides of the issue have to say.

To see video of the letter presentation and question to Ferguson, watch here:

To read the letter the faculty and staff presented to Ferguson, click here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/37779282/TIAA-CREF-Template-Letter

This action is part of the growing international movement demanding corporate accountability for complicity in Israeli human rights abuses and violations of international law. It was undertaken in solidarity with the campaign launched by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) in June, which calls on TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation.

To find out more about the JVP campaign, see:
http://jvp.org/campaigns/tiaa-cref-divest-occupation

To add your name to the JVP petition calling on TIAA-CREF to divest from these companies, see:
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4048

To learn more about the international movement calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel, see:
http://www.bdsmovement.net/ – site of the global BDS movement; you can read the call for BDS here
http://www.pacbi.org/ – site of the Palestinian campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Campagne BDS à la braderie de Lille

Posted in International BDS Actions on September 20, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Très forte affluence ce week-end au stand EuroPalestine de la braderie de Lille, où des centaines de personnes ont signé la pétition de soutien aux militants de Mulhouse appelés à comparaître en procès lundi prochain, et tenu à acheter les mêmes T.Shirts que ceux qu’ils portent. La preuve que les méthodes d’intimidation ont l’effet inverse de celui recherché par le lobby pro-colonisation et pro-nettoyage ethnique de la Palestine.

Sephora! Pas de beauté sans liberté

Posted in International BDS Actions on September 20, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Nous sommes réunis en solidarité avec les 5 militants du collectif Boycott de Mulhouse qui doivent comparaitre en justice lundi prochain et avec notre amie Sakina Arnaud de Bordeaux dont la comparution en appel aura lieu le 24 septembre. Cette judiciarisation de nos actions de solidarité internationale vise à nous intimider et à nous épuiser financièrement afin que se taise la voix de la Palestine en France… Séphora, en distribuant les produits de beauté Ahava, viole le droit international, se rend complice du colonialisme d’Israël en Cisjordanie et vole au peuple palestinien ses terres et ses ressources naturelles.

Israeli Beauty Products Company Ahava Complicit in the Sins of Occupation

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Profiting from Zionism, Zionism on September 20, 2010 by Marcy Newman

By Alex Kane, AlterNet
Posted on September 18, 2010, Printed on September 20, 2010

Walk into any Ricky’s store, a beauty shop chain in New York, and you will find a shelf filled with Ahava products. For $28, you can buy mineral toning cleanser; for $22, Dead Sea liquid salt; and for $9, purifying mud soap. The products made by Ahava (which means “love” in Hebrew) seem innocent enough, perfectly enticing for anyone fond of beauty products.

But looks can be deceiving. As activists from the peace group CodePink’s Stolen Beauty campaign are fond of chanting at protests, Ahava can’t hide its “dirty side.”

For nearly two years, an international campaign spearheaded by Palestine solidarity activists has targeted Ahava and the various stores that carry its products, including Ricky’s, calling for a boycott. The boycott campaign has heated up recently, eliciting push-back from Jewish organizations around the country and a response from the CEO of Ahava.

While Ahava labels its products “made in Israel,” they are actually manufactured in a settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in Palestine. According to the Web site Who Profits?, a project of the Israeli anti-occupation group Coalition of Women for Peace, the company exploits Palestinian resources from the Dead Sea.

Under the Geneva Conventions, and various United Nations resolutions, all of Israel’s settlements–which house about 500,000 settlers–are illegal, as is excavating natural resources in an occupied area. Israel has occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip since the 1967 Six-Day War. The settlements are widely seen as an obstacle to the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state.

“[The boycott] is about a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” said Nancy Kricorian, CodePink’s coordinator for the Stolen Beauty campaign. “The situation on the ground there is dehumanizing and demoralizing and terrible.”

Ahava, which rakes in profits of nearly $150 million a year, according to a Dec. 2009 CNN report, is owned by entities deeply involved in Israel’s settlement project in the occupied West Bank. According to Who Profits? 37 percent of the company is owned by Mitzpe Shalem, an illegal settlement located in the eastern West Bank; another 37 percent by the private investment fund Hamashibr Holdings, which also is a major shareholder in two companies that export produce made in settlements; 18.5 perent by the U.S.-based Shamrock Holding, owned by the Roy E. Disney family of Walt Disney fame, and which is a shareholder in a company that manufactures electronic detection systems that are used on the West Bank separation barrier; and 7.5 percent by the West Bank settlement of Kalia.

In an interview, Kricorian acknowledged that Ahava is a huge target, and likened the Stolen Beauty campaign to a “game of whack-a-mole,” as new places where Ahava products are sold pop up frequently. But Kricorian says it isn’t just about hurting the company’s sales.

“A boycott campaign is strategic, and it’s a long-term thing,” she said. “It’s not just about hurting the company’s sales. It’s also about educating the public about, in this particular case, the company’s illegal practices and sullying the company’s name and reputation.”

The campaign to boycott Ahava, in both the United States and around the world, has racked up some important victories. In August 2009, activists successfully pressured Oxfam International to drop Sex and the City star Kristin Davis as a spokeswoman because she was also working with Ahava. In November 2009, the Dutch Foreign Ministry agreed to investigate Ahava’s manufacturing and labeling practices. Costco, a large U.S. retailer, was pressured into halting the sale of Ahava products at its stores in January 2010. The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, has included Ahava products in its boycott of settlement products campaign, confiscating and destroying products made in West Bank settlements. Recently, four activists in London were acquitted on charges of trespassing after direct actions in 2009 in which they locked themselves onto oil-filled drums inside an Ahava shop.

AHAVA did not respond to inquiries for comment.

The Stolen Beauty campaign, which began in the aftermath of the brutal Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip in 2008-’09, is part of the larger boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that grew out of a 2005 call by a vast swathe of Palestinian civil society groups for BDS against Israel. Modeled on the anti-apartheid movement that targeted South Africa, the Palestinian-led BDS movement demands that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories, implement equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel and recognize the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants who fled or were expelled from Palestine during the1947-’49 Arab-Israeli war.

“The BDS campaign has become the most effective, morally consistent, nonviolent form of solidarity with the colonized Palestinians against Israel’s apartheid and colonial rule,” Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, wrote in an e-mail. “The Stolen Beauty Campaign against Ahava, led by our partner CodePink, is a truly inspiring BDS campaign, as it is creative, focused, well-researched and very effective in conveying the message across to and, more crucially, in mobilizing BDS action in a wider, more mainstream audience.”

The Israeli government has taken notice of the growing BDS movement. The Israeli Knesset recently passed a preliminary reading of anti-boycott legislation that would impose fines on Israeli activists promoting boycotts of Israel. A February 2010 report by the Reut Institute, an Israeli think-tank with close ties to Israel’s government, identified the BDS movement as an threat to the state.

In the United States, the BDS movement, and the campaign against Ahava, has also generated controversy. After a Washington, D.C.-based group protested in July 2010 against Ahava products being sold in Ulta, a beauty store, the Jewish Community Relations Committee of Greater Washington urged supporters to buy Ahava products.

Brooklyn’s Ricky’s shop has also become the epicenter of a dispute over the Boycott Ahava movement. After a July 9 protest outside the store led by CodePink’s Stolen Beauty and Brooklyn for Peace, which signed onto the campaign in May, a group of rabbis in Brooklyn drafted a letter in response, urging people to buy Ahava products and denouncing the campaign. The rabbis’ letter claimed that “CodePink ignores the history and legal status of Mizpeh Shalom” because it is located in “‘Area C’, a huge section of the West Bank over which Israel, again by joint agreement, was granted full control, except over Palestinian civilians.” (The Area C designation comes out of the 1993-era Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Area C incorporates all West Bank settlements.)

“Local Jewish leaders find the idea of a boycott of Israel to be a misguided and one-sided approach to a complex and deeply troubling conflict,” said Rabbi Andy Bachman, a signatory to the letter and a member of the liberal group J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet. “The problem with a boycott is there’s one side that’s all right and another side that’s all wrong. If that’s what the boycotters think, then there really is nothing to discuss. But if not, then why not boycott Palestinian business for years of rejecting peace accords?”

So far, Ricky’s has not budged, and continues to sell Ahava products. Dominick Costello, the president of the store, refused to comment.

The relentless targeting of Ahava hasn’t gone unnoticed by the company. A letter that has recently been circulated by Ahava to its business partners states that “our company and products have been the subject of unfortunate, ugly and clearly politically motivated smear attacks” that are being pushed by a “couple of small radical fringe organizations, which are part of a larger and more insidious campaign aimed against the State of Israel.”

The surge in attention to the boycott campaign is a sign that “we’ve gotten attention to issue of settlements like we never got before,” said Naomi Allen, an activist who sits on Brooklyn for Peace’s board and is involved in the group’s Israel/Palestine committee. Beginning this month, Brooklyn for Peace plans to hold protests outside the Ricky’s shop in Brooklyn on the last Tuesday of every month.

“This is not an argument that we’re going to lose, because [what’s] right and international law are on our side,” Allen said. “The issue of Ahava is a clear-cut issue. There’s no excusing the fact that this is occupied territory which is being stolen from the rightful owners and exploited for profit that isn’t being shared with the rightful owners.”

Alex Kane is a student, journalist and blogger based in New York City. He is a writer for the Indypendent and a frequent contributor to the blog Mondoweiss. His work has also appeared in Salon, Electronic Intifada, Common Dreams, Palestine Chronicle, Gotham Gazette and Extra! He blogs at alexbkane.wordpress.com, and you can follow him on Twitter.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/148214/

%d bloggers like this: