Archive for the Take Action Category

Statement on Jihad al-Murr’s Lawsuit against BDS Organizers in Lebanon

Posted in Actions in Lebanon, Arab Complicity, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Normalization, Take Action on October 24, 2011 by Marcy Newman

You may have heard of the Jihad Al-Murr lawsuit against the organizers of the boycott of the 2010 Placebo concert in Lebanon. If not, here’s a quick recap:

Samah Idriss, director of Dar al-Adab publishing house, received a court summons [recently] from Beirut’s commerce court. Idriss is implicated in a lawsuit for his involvement in a Lebanese boycott campaign against the British rock group Placebo last year. Jihad el-Murr, who heads the company that organized the event, filed the suit on 10 July 2011.

El-Murr is suing Idriss, as well as three other groups involved in the campaign: the Aidoun Refugee Rights Center, the Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel in Lebanon, and the Global BDS Campaign in Lebanon. El-Murr, a self-described famous businessman from a prominent family, is demanding US$180,000 compensation for his company’s financial losses allegedly caused by the boycott campaign.

Jihad el Murr is suing these four organizations/campaigns on the grounds that, because we called for the boycott of Placebo’s concert in Lebanon because they had just performed in Israel, we are thus financially responsible for the smaller turnout at this 2010 concert than the number that went to the 2004 Placebo concert in Lebanon. The lawsuit may have been inspired by the recent anti-boycott law passed by Knesset – which can hold individuals/organizations that call for boycott to be financially responsible for any losses endured by a company/other even without that company proving that the statements have resulted in the loss. The lawsuit may also have been inspired by potential future plans by Jihad el Murr. Either way, the intent is clear: to silence the boycott movement, and to muzzle free speech.

So:

Are you opposed to this anti-boycott lawsuit?
Are you opposed to this attempt to stifle free expression?

If so, please read the statement below. If you agree to this statement, please sign your full name, address, profession, and organization (if any). Please sign your name either in the “comment” section below or email it directly to me at rania.z.masri[at]gmail.com

Note: if you live in Lebanon, you may choose to sign a statement declaring that you are a member of the Campaign to Boycott Zionist Supporters in Lebanon. If so, please state as such in your email or in your comment.

We, the undersigned, attest that we are members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. We attest that, consequently, we are defendants in the lawsuit against us by To You To See, represented by its manager Mr. Jihad Al-Murr, on the basis of our support for the boycott of the Placebo concert in June 2010 due to Placebo’s insistence on performing in Israel on the eve of the massacre against the Freedom Flotilla.

We, the undersigned, further declare our full stance in solidarity in the defense against this lawsuit. We shall regard this lawsuit as another platform and a new opportunity to consecrate our campaign to boycott supporters of zionist oppression and racism, and to emphasize our right to express what we see as just in the pursuit of this human right. We also stand in solidarity with all the other defendants in this case, including Samah Idriss of the Al-Adab magazine, the Refugee Rights Center – Aidoun, and the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon.
Sometimes the justice system is used to oppress free voices and to strengthen certain power structures. In this lawsuit,the justice system shall be first and foremost a platform to empower the values of justice and freedom in resisting injustice and oppression.

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TIAA-CREF: Divest from Injustice

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, Take Action, Zionism on October 4, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Occupied Palestine, October 4th 2010 – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), on behalf of its constituent organizations and unions representing the majority of Palestinian civil society, calls upon the US non-profit pension fund TIAA-CREF to live up to its motto of providing “Financial Services for the Greater Good” by divesting its funds from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and violation of Palestinian rights. As in the struggle to end South African apartheid, divestment from wrongdoing companies is not just a moral obligation; it is a time-honored, particularly effective, non-violent form of pressure that can significantly contribute to ending Israel’s occupation, racial discrimination and denial of refugee rights.

The BNC strongly supports the fast-growing and inspiring campaign initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)1 and widely endorsed by US solidarity and just peace advocacy groups and coalitions, including the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation2 and Adalah-NY3, aimed at pressuring TIAA-CREF to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation and violation of international law. We urge all groups working on boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns in the US, especially on university campuses, to endorse this campaign and join it, whenever possible, to amplify its reach and impact across the US.

Investing in companies that profit from Israel’s multi-tiered oppression of the Palestinian people is a form of complicity in this oppression. Israel is methodically and routinely violating international law and Palestinian rights as part of its system of apartheid, colonization and occupation.4 Israeli colonial settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continue to grow relentlessly, destroying lives and livelihoods. These settlements are all illegal according international law, as most recently confirmed by the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in July 2004.5 The construction of Israel’s Apartheid Wall has isolated and put at risk of displacement over 250,000 Palestinians from over 75 communities.6 The immoral and illegal siege of Gaza continues, and the 2008-2009 military aggression campaign known as Operation Cast Lead has been condemned by a UN fact finding mission as constituting war crimes and possible crimes against humanity “in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population”.7 Palestinian citizens of Israel face “institutional, legal and societal discrimination,” condemned even in US State Department reports.8 Over six million Palestinian refugees, the majority of the Palestinian people, are denied their UN-sanctioned right to return to their homes and receive reparations.

Through its investments in companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law, TIAA-CREF directly profits from and is in turn accountable for these violations of international law:

– Holdings worth $19.24m in Veolia,9 a company that profits from the construction and expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements by operating a landfill in the West Bank,10 collecting rubbish from illegal settlements11 and being a key partner in a light rail system linking West Jerusalem and illegal Israeli settlements, described by the UN Human Rights Council as a “clear violation of international law”.12

– Holdings worth $1.69m in Elbit Systems,13 Israel’s largest arms manufacturer which provides unmanned aerial vehicles used in the massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead and has been integral in the creation of the Apartheid Wall across the West Bank14 that has been ruled illegal by the ICJ.

– Holdings worth $91.75m in Motorola,15 a provider of equipment and components for military checkpoints, that serve a humiliating and integral part of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian Territory, and the Israeli occupation forces.16

– Holdings worth $199.06m in Northrop Grumman,17 a vital supplier of military equipment to the Israeli occupation forces.18

– Holdings worth $236.85m in Caterpillar,19 who supply bulldozers routinely used to demolish Palestinian homes and in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements and supply unmanned bulldozers specially designed for urban warfare that were used in Operation Cast Lead. 20

Investments do not exist in isolation from the actions they fund. As holders of pension schemes with TIAA-CREF, over 3.5 million21 academic, medical, cultural and research practitioners throughout the United States are unwittingly profiting from violations of international law. Israeli impunity relies on the economic and political support gained by such investments; so did apartheid South Africa’s impunity. The BNC was pleased to learn that TIAA-CREF no longer owns shares in Africa-Israel,22 a company heavily involved in settlement construction.23 However, the BNC urges TIAA-CREF to ensure that its actions consistently reflect its own public statements about its commitment to “influence positive social change”24 and to ensure it sells its holdings in all companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and infringement of Palestinian rights.

In the face of the failure of the international community to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law and its denial of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and in harmony with the 2005 BDS Call issued by the overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society, individuals of conscience, trade union and diverse institutions have engaged in campaigns to boycott and divest from companies complicit in Israeli violations of international law.

TIAA-CREF is an institution of great significance and weight and must take its responsibilities seriously. An organisation that professes to lead the field in ethical investment and hold progressive principles cannot bankroll and politically bolster Israeli aggression. Nor should individual pension scheme holders have their hard-earned savings ethically tarnished by their investment in Israeli violations of international law. The BNC looks forward to hearing that TIAA-CREF has ended its active complicity with Israeli contravention of Palestinian rights and calls upon board of TIAA-CREF to:

– Immediately divest its shares in all companies actively involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

– Take steps to ensure that such investments cannot be allowed to re-enter its portfolios.

– Inform all companies whose shares it holds that it will not tolerate involvement in Israeli aggression of any kind.

The BNC also calls upon individuals of conscience, international solidarity groups and academic, labour and student groups in particular to:

– Work closely with JVP, Adalah-NY and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation to support, enhance and ensure the success of the campaign against TIAA-CREF’s unethical investments.

– Raise awareness of TIAA-CREF’s investments in Israeli violations of international law in their communities, work places and educational establishments.

The BNC views this campaign with utter interest, as it is well justified, well though-out, as well as has every potential to succeed and, as a result, to play a key role in bolstering divestment campaigns across the US. Such prospects should not be taken lightly, given the undeniably great role played by divestment of international banks and corporations, especially the US-based ones, from apartheid South Africa in supporting the struggle for freedom and justice there.

1 http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/campaigns/tiaa-cref-divest-occupation
2 http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?list=type&type=203
3 For more information on the successful Adalah-NY campaign to secure TIAA-CREF divestment from Africa Israel see: http://campaigns.adalahny.org/tiaa-cref
4 For an in-depth analysis of Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people constituting occupation, colonization and apartheid see: http://bdsmovement.net/files/English-BNC_Position_Paper-Durban_Review.pdf
5 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&case=131&k=5a
6 http://stopthewall.org/activistresources/1633.shtml http://www.stopthewall.org/downloads/pdf/ThreatenedvillagesFS.pdf http://www.stopthewall.org/downloads/pdf/ThreatenedvillagesFS.pdf
7 http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/8B74CCCA633569BC8525763200528D40
8 http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136070.htm
9 Official TIAA-CREF records cited at https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/images/Profiles-Veolia.pdf
10 http://whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=581
11 http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3514
12 http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/262DD94458BA4CA2852576F000701580
13 Official TIAA-CREF records cited at https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/images/Profiles-Elbit.pdf
14 http://www.stopthewall.org/downloads/pdf/Elbit-fc.pdf
15 Official TIAA-CREF records cited at https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/images/Profiles-Motorola.pdf
16 http://www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=544
17 Official TIAA-CREF records cited at https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/images/Profiles-NG.pdf
18 https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/images/Profiles-NG.pdf
19 Official TIAA-CREF records cited at https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/images/Profiles-CAT.pdf
20 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2004/11/21/israel-caterpillar-should-suspend-bulldozer-sales http://www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=601
21 http://www.tiaa-cref.org/public/about/press/about_us/releases/pressrelease274.html
22 http://www.tiaa-cref.org/public/about/news/articles/gen0909_185.html
23 http://adalahny.org/land-developer-bds/land-developers-bds/page-4 http://whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=447
24 http://www.tiaa-cref.org/public/about/how-we-invest/sri/index.html

Open letter to OECD regarding decision to host tourism conference in Jerusalem

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, Take Action, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on September 25, 2010 by Marcy Newman

18 September 2010

Your Excellency Angel Gurría

SecretaryGeneral of OECD

Cc:OECD Member States

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), a broad coalition of the largest civil society political parties, mass organizations, networks,and trade unions, strongly condemns the decision by OECD to hold its annual Tourism Committee Conference in October in Jerusalem-the first time the conference is held outside Paris. The conference comes at a time when Israel is gradually ethnically cleansing the Naqab (Negev) desert, the Jordan Valley, and occupied East Jerusalem, as in the neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan,and continuing its construction of its illegal colonial settlements and wall on occupied Palestinian land. Holding the conference in Jerusalem, in spite of this reality of Israel’s grave violation of international law, will be regarded by an overwhelming majority of Palestinians, and people of conscience around the world as a decisive and far-reaching act of complicity in rewarding and perpetuating Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid against the Palestinian people. It will further entrench the culture of impunity that has enabled Israel to escalate its commission of war crimes and what is described by some leading international law experts as a prelude to genocide against Palestinians in the illegally besieged and occupied Gaza Strip. The BNC, therefore, calls upon the OECD Tourism Committee to respect international law and relocate the conference out of Israel.

Condemned as a state that is practicing occupation, colonization and apartheid by a recent authoritative legal study in South Africa supervised by international law expert and former UN human rights rapporteur, Prof. John Dugard, Israel is not in compliance with international law and OECD standards and benchmarks.Israel has yet to comply with the recommendations of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and investigate and prosecute where needed those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity that resulted in the death of more than 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians, in the winter of2008/9. Israel has yet to lift its illegal blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip which has brought to the brink of starvation almost 1.5 million Palestinians,most of whom are refugees Israel had displaced and dispossessed during the 1948Nakba. It has yet to dismantle its illegal Wall in the occupied Palestinian West Bank in accordance with the 2004 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion. Israel has yet to end its 43-year-old occupation of the West Bank,including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, reverse its colonial enterprise and release Palestinians detained and imprisoned. It has yet to transform its political and legal system in order to provide reparation for millions of Palestinian victims, including return for the refugees, and allow full and equal rights for its Palestinian citizens. Only then can Israel be treated as a pluralist democracy, like other OECD states.

Israel’s ongoing blockade of essential food, health, educational and construction supplies is not only immoral; it is a severe form of collective punishment, a war crime that is strictly prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is inducing mass poverty, water contamination, environmental collapse, chronic diseases, economic de-development and hundreds of deaths.

This three-year old illegal siege against 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza has been squarely condemned by leading legal experts, including UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the oPt, Prof. Richard Falk, who described it as constituting”slow genocide.”

Israelis blatantly working to “Judaize”[1]Jerusalem through policies of ethnic cleaning, including home demolitions, residency permit revocation, settler takeovers of Palestinian housing, restrictions on freedom of movement and forced fragmentation through the Apartheid Wall, permit systems, illegal settlement construction and land confiscation. Rather than condemning such illegal practices under international law, the OECD conference will cement Israel’s hold on occupied Jerusalem, and will be perceived as as tamp of approval of Israel’s violations of international law in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Internationally, tourism is overtly deployed by Israel to ‘rebrand’ the state as an attractive holiday destination, and to cover up its occupation, colonization and apartheid policies. Last June, Israeli authorities handed demolition orders to 22residences in the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem as part of a wider scheme to demolish houses and turn the area into an “archeological park” and“tourism center”[2].Extremist settler organization El Ad, supported by Israeli Antiquities Authorities, has exploited — unscientific — archeology to lay claim to the area and now promotes tourism for religious Jewish settler fanatics at the expense of the local Palestinian population who live in fear of constant violent harassment[3].UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk said of the plan that “international law does not allow Israel to bulldoze Palestinian homes to make space for the mayor’s project to build a garden, or anything else,” adding that the plan”should be seen within the context of Israel’s persistent, systematic approach to driving Palestinians out of East Jerusalem”. Not only so, but in February, Israel defied world opinion and international law, declaring two Palestinian sites in the West Bank as “national heritage” as part of its unilateral strategy to annex them to Israel[4]. These Israeli cultural crimes must be understood in the context of decades of Israeli crimes including the erasure of over 500 Palestinian villages in 1948, the destruction of the Moroccan Quarter in the old city of Jerusalem in 1967, and the more recent desecration of the historic cemetery of Ma’man Allah (“Mamilla”) in West Jerusalem for the purposes of building a so-called “Museum of Tolerance”.

Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said “Israel’s joining the OECD is of great importance in terms of building a positive image for the country, the positive image gained will have an effect on the tourist’s choice to visit Israel, and it will attract foreign investors to the country,including, among others, investors in tourism.[5]”The OECD showed that it is willing to turn a blind eye to Israeli war crimes,bend its own rules and ignore international law when it accepted Israel as a member last May[6].Organizing this tourism conference in Israel sends once again a strong signal that OECD members are perfectly willing to be complicit with Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and actively support Israel’s PR efforts to whitewash its colonial and apartheid policies.

The OECD ought to respect its own obligations under international law and relocate this ill-conceived conference out of Israel. Failing to do so will further undermine the organization’s already dismal respect for human rights and the international rule of law.

In deep concern,

The Palestinian Boycott,Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC)

[1] See, for example, UN Special Rapporteur, Prof. John Dugard, Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories (A/HRC/7/17,January 2008).

[2] Why 88 Arab homes received eviction notices http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2009/0226/p04s01-wome.html

[3] The dig dividing Jerusalem http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/26/jerusalem-city-of-david-palestinians-archaeology

[4] West Bank sites spark heritage row http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/02/20102211933459711.html

[5] OECD selects Jerusalem to host its tourism conference http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/news/2676-oecd-selects-jerusalem-to-host-its-tourism-conference

[6] http://holdisraelaccountable.net/2010/05/10/palestinian-civil-society-condemns-oecd/

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.

Los Angeles Launches Nation’s First Israel Divestment Campaign

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, Take Action, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on September 18, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Posted by Linda Milazzo at 1:35 am
September 10, 2010

On April 1, 2010, in a no-holds-barred interview with the Christian Science Monitor, Israeli peacemaker Jonathan Ben Artzi, a PhD candidate at Brown University and nephew to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 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.”

Jonathan’s reference to South Africa is a testament to the powerful roll played by valiant Americans who participated in protests, boycotts and divestment actions nationwide, most between 1984 and 1989, which ultimately forced the white minority South African government to relinquish control over its oppressed Black majority.

Ben Artzi, a man of conscience and compassion, served 18 months in prison for refusing his mandatory service in Israel’s military. Ben Artzi goes on to say:

“If Americans truly are our friends, they should shake us up and take away the keys, because right now we are driving drunk, and without this wake-up call, we will soon find ourselves in the ditch of an undemocratic, doomed state.”

This week, Jonathan Ben Artzi should be pleased to know that a concerned and energized coalition of Americans has heeded the call to rescue out of control Israel from driving deeper into its ditch.

On Wednesday, September 8th, at a noon press conference in Los Angeles in front of the Israeli Consulate, the California Israel Divestment Campaign, a culturally diverse group of compassionate Americans announced the launch of California ballot initiative 10-0020 to require public employee systems to divest from certain business activities in Israel. In its first official announcement, the California Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC) delivered the following explanation:

“Although California has adopted policies requiring divestment from Sudan, Iran and other nations, this is the first ballot measure in the nation aimed at changing Israeli policies through divestment by State agencies. It directs California’s large public employee and teacher pension funds to be consistent with their responsible investing policies and to divest from companies that violate the human rights of Palestinians.

The description provided by the office of the Attorney General when it approved the measure for circulation says that the initiative “prohibits state retirement funds from investing in companies engaged in certain business activities in Israel.”

According to Chris Yatooma, the official proponent of the initiative, “Our government has done nothing to end Israel’s brutal occupation and violation of internationally recognized human rights, UN Resolutions and the Geneva Conventions.” In fact, as campaign organizer Yael Korin, notes, “our tax dollars now help fund these violations of human rights to the tune of more than $3 billion a year in grants, adding up to a staggering $106 billion over the past five decades.”

“California retirement funds have their own disturbing record,” said local campaign organizer Sherna Gluck, a member of the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). “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 recognized human rights, including support for the illegal Israeli settlements and the “Separation Wall.”

For over four decades, since the 1967 Six Day War, propagandized as a victorious miracle on par with David v. Goliath, Americans have ingested a distorted media diet of Israelis portrayed as victims and Palestinians portrayed as villains. But with the launch of domestic and international outlets for independent journalism and new media, the truth is now accessible. More and more Americans have come to realize that Israelis are the oppressors and Palestinians are the oppressed. In addition, more and more Americans are learning that the relationship between the United States and Israel is not really in America’s best interests – a previously untenable concept.

What is occurring as a result of Americans’ new knowledge is their widespread anger over being misled for so long. Many Americans, myself included, feel a sense of guilt at being unwitting pawns in Israel’s forty year occupation and systematic torture, deprivation, and dare I say, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Many Americans are further incensed that our legislators have voted annually to award Israel, a wealthy and thriving nation, 3 billion of our tax dollars which go directly into its military.

Fortunately there are ways to fight back against this tyranny in which we Americans have been unwitting pawns. The launch of the California Israel Divestment Campaign is a powerful weapon to that end. Divestment worked well in defeating apartheid in South Africa. Indeed, South Africa’s own Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a principal endorser of this new Israel Divestment Campaign, said this of the campaign on August 22nd:

“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 much beloved Nobel Laureate is correct. As is Nobel Laureate and Belfast peacemaker, Mairead Maguire, who is also an endorser.

Each day the momentum is building for this divestment campaign. The list of individuals and organizations that support this effort, which requires the state public retirement funds (PERS and STRS) to divest from companies that provide products or services contributing to the construction or maintenance of Israeli settlements and/or the Separation Wall in the Palestinian Territories; and/or military supplies, equipment and services to the State of Israel that are used by the military and/or police in violation of internationally recognized human rights, as determined by the UN and NGOS, is growing ever larger. And this is just the beginning. This is the just the first divestment launch in California. Similar launches in other California cities are soon to come.

Even though the goal to divest is one of justice and human rights, it will take much hard work to achieve. At least 434,000 registered California voters must sign a petition to qualify the measure for the statewide ballot. Petitions should be ready for signature gathering in mid-September 2010, after which there will be five months to gather the required signatures. If the requisite number of signatures is gathered, the initiative will appear on the next statewide ballot after March, 2011.

If a majority of voters support the measure, it becomes California law and the public retirement systems in California will have to sell their stocks (divest) in those companies that provide goods and services to Israel which violate UN Resolutions, the Geneva Conventions, and international rules of human rights. It is important to note that the Initiative will in no way jeopardize the pension benefits of PERS and STRS members.

California is frequently the national leader. 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. To participate, please visit here. If you’re in Southern California, please email: ca.divest.sc[at]gmail.com

To underscore the passion and humanity of the Israel Divestment Campaign, Marcy Winograd, former candidate for California’s 36th Congressional District, offers this personal and poignant explanation for her own participation:

“Today I lend my name and my support to a crucial ballot measure calling for divestiture in companies that aid the Israeli occupation of Palestine and perpetuate the brutal blockade of over a million people, half of them children, in the ever-more crowded Gaza strip.

As a Jewish woman of conscience, as a teacher who contributes to the California State Teacher Retirement System, I do not want my name, nor the fruits of my labor supporting companies that collude with the government of Israel to steal Palestinian land, bulldoze Palestinian homes,
or imprison those in Gaza routinely denied access to clean water and medicine.

Now is the time for Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all believers, be they believers in a higher power or simply in the power of love, to stand for human rights and to demand that our public institutions, like CALSTRS and CALPRS, sell stock in corporations that profit off of misery in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza — making us all less safe.

I urge my fellow teachers to echo my call. Let us divest of our stock in Caterpillar, which makes bullet proof tractors that slice Palestinian homes to ribbons in minutes. Let us divest of General Electric that builds the weapons that terrorize the next generation in Gaza. Let us give the people of our great golden state, California, an opportunity to promote peace by saying NO to companies involved in ever-expanding settlements that erase the beautiful olive trees of Palestine, only to generate more hatred.

In the name of peace, of dignity, of equal rights, let us collect enough signatures to put this measure on the ballot and join a global movement calling for divestiture.

Thank you, my friends, for your courage.”

Linda Milazzo is Managing Editor of OpedNews, a participatory journalist, and educator. Since 1974, she has divided her time between the entertainment industry, government organizations, community development projects, and educational programs.Linda began her writing career 35 years ago in advertising and promotions. From 1976 to 1989, she operated an independent public relations service providing specialty writing for individual and corporate clients. A socio-political activist since the Vietnam war, Linda has focused on political writing since G. W. Bush first threatened Iraq. Her essays, letters and commentaries have appeared in domestic and international journals, newspapers and magazines. She’s an educator and creator of a writers’ program she’s taught privately and in public schools.Linda currently facilitates an advocacy writing workshop and is developing an advocacy writing program to be implemented in public and private educational institutions and in community based organizations. She’s a regular contributor to numerous high profile and highly respected news and opinion websites.

BNC condemns repression of French BDS activists

Posted in International BDS Actions, Take Action on September 10, 2010 by Marcy Newman

BNC condemns repression of French BDS activists

Occupied Palestine, 9 September 2010 – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), on behalf of its constituent organizations and unions representing the majority of Palestinian civil society, strongly condemns the decision taken by French authorities to prosecute people of conscience for calling for a boycott of Israeli produce. These state-sanctioned forms of repression amount to active support for Israeli violations of international law and have serious implications on political freedoms in France and across Europe.

On September 13, five members of the group “Boycott 68” will appear in court charged with “incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence” after distributing leaflets asking shoppers to boycott Israeli products.[i]Last year, Sakina Arnaud was fined €1000 for attaching a ‘Boycott Israel’ sticker to a fruit juice carton. Ms Arnaud will appear in court again on September 24to appeal the decision. The campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005[ii],is a non-violent, just and effective way of pressuring Israel to comply with international law and end its institutionalised discrimination and violence towards Palestinians. People of conscience all over the world, including many progressive Israelis and Jews, engage in BDS campaigns as a form of solidarity with an oppressed people, suffering under Israeli occupation and apartheid. BDS is based on unambiguous respect for international law and universal human rights; as such, it is categorically opposed to all forms of racism and racial discrimination, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. The BNC is therefore deeply troubled by state-sanctioned smear campaigns against BDS activists.

Most of the cases against solidarity activists have been brought following pressure from Bureau National de Vigilance Contre l’Antisémitisme (BNCVA) with assistance from other pro-Israel pressure groups and are part of a wider campaign of attacks against Palestine solidarity activism. “Altogether, we have filed over 80 similar complaints, everywhere in France,”the President of BNCVA boasted recently.[iii] The BNC has previously criticised the French Prime Minister for making unfounded and inflammatory insinuations about the movement to boycott Israel.[iv] According to activists, police regularly demand the names and addresses of those present at BDS demonstrations. The BNC is astounded that the authorities in a country that has historically contributed so much to the development of the principles of citizenship and human rights would succumb so easily to the demands of the Israel lobby and curtail political freedoms so blatantly.

French MEPs Jacky Henin and Nicole Kill-Nielsen recently spoke out against the repression of Palestine activists. “In that case, justice is used for political purposes,”said Henin.[v] The BNC hopes that these comments will enrich the debate in France about the repression of those who stand in solidarity with Palestinians.

The actions taken by French state bodies to shield Israel from legitimate criticism and opposition show the strength of the BDS movement on one hand, but also reduce the possibilities of a just and lasting peace, present a serious threat to freedom of expression, and bolster Israel’s impunity in violating human rights on the other. The failure of the French government to end its complicity in maintaining and protecting Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights, let alone to hold Israel accountable for these violations, calls into question France’s compliance with its own obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice against Israel’s Wall and colonial settlements. Its active repression of principled activists who attempt to remedy this failure is reprehensible.

The BNC warmly salutes all French BDS activists due to appear in court and is inspired by their stated intention to step up their campaigns in reaction to this repression. We call upon the French government to:

· Drop all charges against activists engaged in non-violent, morally commendable solidarity campaigns aimed at challenging Israel’s grave violations of international law and official French complicity;

· Take measures to ensure that France’s rich history of political freedom is maintained and that freedom of association and freedom of speech are not curtailed in this shameful way again;

· End France’s complicity in maintaining Israel’s occupation and apartheid and hold Israel accountable for its persistent violation of international law.

The BNC also calls upon people of conscience and international solidarity groups to:

· Send messages of support to the activists due to appear in court by email atcampagnebdsfrance[at]yahoo.fr

· Write to the French embassy in your country demanding that these charges be dropped and condemning France’s repression of basic freedoms and civil rights.

– BNC Secretariat

[i] http://www.bdsfrance.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=59&Itemid=43#mproces

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

[iii] http://www.lepays.fr/fr/article/3746719/Soutien-d-eurodeputes-a-des-militants-francais-poursuivis-pour-avoir-appele-au-boycott-d-Israel.html

[iv] http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/645

[v] http://www.lepays.fr/fr/article/3746719/Soutien-d-eurodeputes-a-des-militants-francais-poursuivis-pour-avoir-appele-au-boycott-d-Israel.html

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