Archive for the What You Can Do Category

Not A Very Ahava Christmas!

Posted in International BDS Actions, Profiting from Zionism, What You Can Do on August 12, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Wanted to remind everyone to check out our FB group, where I have been posting recent news items, blogs and videos about the Ahava boycott.

I also wanted to share this post from a professional beauty site about Ahava’s new “Christmas Gifts of Love.” Please send me any slogans, taglines or the like you think of — we need to come up with an appropriate response to this vomitous product line.

http://www.professionalbeauty.co.uk/products/a-very-ahava-christmas/5016084.article

Imaging Apartheid – Poster Project for Palestine

Posted in International BDS Actions, What You Can Do on August 8, 2010 by Marcy Newman

call for submissions: Montreal July 2010

http://imagingapartheid.org/downloads/imagingapartheid_call.pdf

As the global movement in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for liberation continues to grow, we are calling on graphic designers and artists to submit their work to IMAGING APARTHEID: the Poster Project for Palestine.

Twenty-one posters will be selected from submissions collected from around the world to be either silk-screen or offset printed for exhibition in Montreal, and distribution internationally. Works will be selected by a jury of artists, graphic designers and social justice activists.

Street level art work and design has consistently played a critical role within international solidarity movements throughout the world: from the powerful poster art published by the Black Panthers in the late 1960s; to the striking design work created by artists inspired by the Africa National Congress (ANC) and the global movement against apartheid in South Africa; to poster art created to support the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

These works help to maintain collective and social memory of past anti-colonial struggles while providing inspiration for current movements fighting for social justice worldwide. Political posters act as the public face for voices that are too often marginalized and have the ability to visualize injustice, bridge gaps and imagine alternatives. IMAGING APARTHEID seeks to engage artists to continue this tradition, and assist in building broad artistic support for the growing political movement in support of Palestinian liberation.

IMAGING APARTHEID takes place within the context of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli Apartheid called for by over 170 grassroots Palestinian organizations from Palestine and the Diaspora in July 2005.

Submission deadline: November 1st, 2010

Submissions should be sent in jpeg format and not exceed 2 MBs.If your work is selected, you will be asked to provide a high resolution (minimum 300 dpi), print-ready digital file to a maximum size of 38” x25”.

Please send submissions to:submissions[at]imagingapartheid.org

* for more info about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, please visit: http://www.tadamon.ca
http://www.bdsmovement.net

UPDATE ON NATIONAL AUSTRALIAN BDS CONFERENCE CALL

Posted in International BDS Actions, What You Can Do on August 4, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Building Solidarity, Combating Occupation and Apartheid
National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference
Melbourne, 29 – 31 October 2010

– activism in support of Palestine –

Dear friends and supporters,

Thank you for your emails and words of support. We have been overwhelmed and delighted by the positive response to the conference call. We are currently working on the conference program and agenda and hope to have an initial program to you all shortly.

In the meantime, endorsements for the conference have continued to come in and in the last week we have received endorsements for the conference from:

* Australians for Palestine (Melbourne)
* Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine (Canberra)
* Women in Black (Melbourne)
* Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth (FAMSY)
* Garth Smith (Organiser, Seminars in the Sand, Byron Bay)
* Maxine Caron (Organiser, Seminars in the Sand, Byron Bay);

They have joined the following individuals, community and solidarity groups in endorsing the call for the conference:

Individuals

* Yousef Alreemawi; advocate for Palestine, academic and refugee activist.
* Leyal Asku – Lawyer.
* Fay Waddington (Palestine Solidarity Queensland)
* Kim Sattler (Secretary Unions ACT)
* Ginny Adams (Organiser, Health and Community Services Union)
* Kathryn Kelly (former ISM activist)

Groups:

* Friends of Palestine Western Australia (Perth)
* Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Melbourne)
* Students for Palestine (Victoria)
* Action for Palestine (Adelaide)
* Justice for Palestine (Brisbane)
* Australian-Palestinian Cultural Centre
* Palestine Remembered @ Radio 3CR; Australia’s only radio program that it totally dedicated to the Palestinian cause in English

We would like to encourage all supporters of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and justice to endorse and support this very important initiative. If you would like to endorse and support the call for the conference, please contact us on ausbds[at]gmail.com

We will send out regular updates on the endorsements and the planning for the conference over the next couple of months.

You can keep up with news of what is happening with the conference by joining our email announcement group at: australian-bds-conference[at]googlegroups.com (or email us at ausbds[at]gmail.com and let us know you want to be added to the announcement list and we will add you).

Or by joining us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/group.php?gid=123970357646027

We will also keep our blog regularly updated: http://australianbdscampaign.wordpress.com/

Thank you again and we look forward to seeing everyone in October.

BOYCOTT ISRAELI DATES RAMADAN 2010 CAMPAIGN

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, What You Can Do, Zionism on August 1, 2010 by Marcy Newman

If you can help distribute Boycott Israeli Dates leaflets in your community please contact the Islamic Human Rights Commission on 02089040222 specifying how many leaflets you would like.

Boycott Israeli Dates 2010 leaflet (front)

Boycott Israeli Dates 2010 leaflet (back)

Download Boycott Israeli Dates Leaflet 2010 (A5 300dpi ready-to-print PDF) (6Mb)

Download Boycott Israeli Dates Leaflet 2010 (A5 300dpi front JPG) (1Mb)

Download Boycott Israeli Dates Leaflet 2010 (A5 300dpi back JPG) (1.3Mb)

BOYCOTT ISRAELI DATES: BACKGROUND

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the Israeli settlements are illegal – they are built on stolen Palestinian land. Growing dates is one of the major agricultural activities carried out by nearly half of the illegal Israeli settlements located in the Jordan Valley – it’s their most profitable crop, and contributes significantly to their economic viability.

Picking of the dates is hard work, so the Israeli settlers bring in Palestinian labourers to do this back breaking work. During the pruning season the workers are dropped on the date palm trees by a hoisting crane at 5 o’clock in the morning, left perched on palms that soar to a height of 10 or even 12 meters – the height of a three- or four-story building, left there swaying in the wind for up to 8 hours without a break and with no means to come down until the crane returns at the end of the day, the workers cling to the tree with one arm and work with the other to meet their quota. They can’t even take a break to go to the toilet. If they complain or fall behind their quota they will lose their jobs and their families will starve.

But the Israelis prefer to employ children – even issuing them official work permits, as they are quick and light, can climb trees faster, work for less and it’s easier to cheat and humiliate them. Out of desperate poverty Palestinian families are forced to take their children out of school and hand them over to the settlers to work for a pittance.

Most of the Israeli date crop – up to 80%, is exported, mainly to Europe where it has around 10% market share. In 2005, dates were Israel’s leading fruit export.

The two major Israeli companies involved are Agrexco and Hadiklaim.

Agrexco, half owned by the Israeli government, handles 60-70% of all goods produced in the illegal Settlements. Its dates have brand names Carmel, Jordan Plains and Jordan Valley. Last September, a week before the start of Ramadan, Carmel boasted in their press release that they had managed an early crop of dates in order to meet the Ramadan demand for dates from Europe’s Muslims!

Hadiklaim sells 65 percent of the all dates produced in Israel. Its dates have brand names King Solomon and Jordan River. They also supply Israeli dates to supermarkets and retail chains who market them under their own brand names. These include Marks & Spencer’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s, and Waitrose.

Sometimes they are labelled “produced in the West Bank” – this just confirms they are grown in the illegal Israeli settlements.

Peace activists who visited the Palestinian village of Fasayl in the Jordan Valley last year discovered that villagers are slowly being forced off their land by the Israeli army. The only livelihood left open to them is to work for Carmel Agrexco. The activists even spoke to two Palestinian children under the age of 12 who were working for Carmel. The Palestinian workers whose land had been stolen and were forced to work for Carmel in order to feed their families – they had a message for the peace activists, a plea for anyone who would listen – they urged them to take action against Carmel Agrexco and such companies that support Israeli apartheid. What excuse is left for us not to boycott Israel? If you oppose the illegal settlements target their dates. Boycotting can make a real difference.

BOYCOTT ISRAELI DATES: CAMPAIGN

Innovative Minds and the Islamic Human Rights Commission are calling on campaigners to create awareness in their communities about the boycott of Israeli goods, and in particular Israeli dates, this Ramadan.

In order to educate our communities on this issue two videos and a leaflet has been produced.

“Zaynab’s Story” explores the connection between an ordinary person living in Britain and what is happening in Palestine – how our actions as consumers in this country effects what happens to the Palestinians. It’s a heart wrenching video which exposes the brutality of the occupation as it touches the lives of ordinary people in Palestine. It then traces exactly how our buying habits help sustain this occupation, and ends by exploring ways in which we can start supporting the Palestinians. The boycott of Israeli dates forms its central theme. Its premier both in this country and overseas has been very well received. It duration is 36 minutes, and its available both as a DVD, or as a downloadable AVI for screening in a mosque, community centre or student society, and as streaming video on Youtube for personal viewing.

“Boycott Israeli Dates” was specifically created for screening at venues with time restrictions which would not permit the screening of “Zaynab’s Story”. It duration is only 18 minutes, and concentrates solely on the boycott of Israeli dates. It is available both for downloading (hi-res AVI) or streaming (low-res Youtube).

Please help us reach the widest possible audience by making copies of the videos, DVDs and passing them to your friends, placing them on your websites, etc.

Boycott Israeli dates leaflets can be obtained by contacting the Islamic Human Rights Commission on 02089040222. Alternatively the original PDFs used for printing the leaflets are available for download should you wish to do your own printing ( rough guide to printing cost in the UK: 10,000 leaflets £125 inc delivery).


Boycott Israeli Dates leaflet (front)


Boycott Israeli Dates leaflet (back)

Download Boycott Israeli Dates Leaflet (A5 ready-to-print PDF) (5Mb)

We have also produced a sample letter to give to local grocery shops, greengrocers, etc. that serve the Muslim community. The letter politely asks the the shopkeeper not stock Israeli dates this Ramadan. Only one letter, with perhaps 3-6 people signing it, needs to be given to each shop (along with a leaflet which identifies the brands to avoid).

Dear Shopkeeper,

Greeting of peace,

Please spare a few minutes to read this important letter, thank you.

As a customer of yours I wish to draw your attention to something which is very dear to my heart and I am sure to many of your other customers and hopefully to yours as well, namely the plight of the Palestinian people.

For 60 years now they have lived under brutal Israeli occupation, their land stolen from them, their homes demolished and their children murdered in front of their eyes. The United Nations has condemned Israel on many, many occasions, and the International Court of Justice has ruled the Israeli settlements are illegal – built on stolen Palestinian land, and those that lived through the horror of apartheid in South Africa have described Israel as practising a much worse form of apartheid than thing they suffered under. And yet despite all this, the oppression continues, nothing changes.

It is now left for us ordinary people to put pressure on Israel by boycotting its goods, by boycotting the fruits and vegetables it grows on land stolen from the Palestinians. It is in this endeavour that I humbly urge you, as your customer, please do not help oppress the Palestinians by selling Israeli goods, in particular please do not sell Israeli dates this Ramadan. Every year just before Ramadan, Israel especially targets small retailers who serve the Muslim community in to stocking its dates. The included leaflet lists which brands of dates are Israeli and should be avoided, it also includes details of the suffering Palestinians undergo in the production of these dates. This Ramadan please think of the Palestinians.

Thank you

sign name and include street & town

PS As your customers, we will be frequenting your store, please do not disappoint – thank you

Download Sample letter to shopkeepers (Word DOC) (100Kb)

The idea is for activists to arrange a Boycott Israel awareness event in their community where they show one of the videos, give out the leaflets and ask people to sign the letters addressed to local shops serving the community (print out only one letter per shop which everyone signs like a petition).

If you do initiate a Boycott Israeli Dates campaign in your community please do contact us via the feedback form (on the left column of this page) and share your experience with us.

This Ramadan there is no excuse for any Muslim in the world to open their fast with an Israeli date.

Are Arabs swimming with or against the BDS tide against Israeli Apartheid?

Posted in Apartheid, Arab Complicity, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Profiting from Zionism, What You Can Do, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on July 21, 2010 by Marcy Newman

July 2010 by Mohannad El-Khairy

Charles C. Boycott seems to have become a household word because of his strong sense of duty to his employer. An Englishman and former British soldier, Boycott was the estate agent of the Earl of Erne in County Mayo, Ireland. The earl was one of the absentee landowners who as a group held most of the land in Ireland. Boycott was chosen in the fall of 1880 to be the test case for a new policy advocated by Charles Parnell, an Irish politician who wanted land reform.

Any landlord who would not charge lower rents or any tenant who took over the farm of an evicted tenant would be given the complete cold shoulder by Parnell’s supporters. Boycott refused to charge lower rents and ejected his tenants. At this point members of Parnell’s Irish Land League stepped in, and Boycott and his family found themselves isolated without servants, farmhands, service in stores, or mail delivery.

Boycott’s name was quickly adopted as the term for this treatment, not just in English but in other languages such as French, Dutch, German, and Russian.” This excerpt from The American Heritage Dictionary is so fitting it can be directly applied to today’s global Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli Apartheid, born in 1948 in what primarily began as a land issue between Zionist colonizers and the indigenous Palestinian people.

Why BDS against Apartheid Israel matters

In 1950, when the disposition of Palestinian lands was placed under the Jewish National Fund (JNF)’s Settlement Department, a law was passed in 1953 granting the agency independent status as landowner for the Jewish state. According to Israeli professor Ilan Pappe, that law and others like it (like the Law of the Land of Israel) stipulate “the JNF wasn’t allowed to sell or lease land to non-Jews. The Knesset passed a final law in 1967, the Law of Agricultural Settlement, prohibiting the subletting of Jewish-owned land to non-Jews.

The law also prohibited water resources from being transferred to non-JNF lands.” With Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, the successive Judaization of Jerusalem by all Israeli governments, and the total control of border, water, and air space around the Gaza Strip, it is safe to say that, realistically speaking, the Zionist takeover of Historic Palestine has indeed reached its 100th percent.

From the lands as far north as the Safad District down to the southern Bersheebian desert (commonly referred to 1948 Palestine in Palestinian lingo); from the Northern areas of Jenin to the southern regions around Hebron (in the militarily occupied West Bank); and from the stolen Golan Heights to the largest open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip; what Israel has managed to achieve is the total invasion of Palestine. With the current Netanyahu government’s complete disregard of American “demands” to halt settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, even more land annexations, more settlement buildings, and more “Jews-only” highways are planned, on more of this stolen land. One can almost hear Charles C. Boycott shivering in his grave.

The Israeli economy, unlike others that are to a certain degree self sufficient, is innately on life support. While Israeli leaders pride themselves for having made “the desert bloom” and having exported the greatest minds and breakthroughs in modern science and technology, it is without a doubt the world’s money pouring into Israel that has enabled it to achieve its relative successes. Taking only American aid as an example, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a conservative estimate of total US aid to Israel puts the figure at a total $114 billion since 1949. Having not counted the total cost of Israel to the United States, Washington DC-based economist Thomas Stauffer outlined in the same source that “total identifiable costs come to almost $3 trillion [with] about well over half ($1.7 trillion) [arising] from the US defense of Israel, where most of that amount has been incurred since 1973.” He adds that support includes special trade advantages, preferential contracts, and aid buried in other accounts.

Furthermore, approximately 275,000 American jobs each year are lost due to the American government’s regular pay-outs to Israel. Cumulatively, even excluding all of these extra costs, America’s aid to Israel from fiscal years 1949 through 1998, and the interest the US paid to borrow this money, has cost US taxpayers $134.8 billion (not adjusted for inflation). In other words, according to “If Americans Knew,” an independent research and information/dissemination institute, by the end of October 1997 the nearly $15,000 every one of the 5.8 million Israelis received from the US government had cost American taxpayers over $23,000 per Israeli.

To understand to what extent Israel’s economy is on life support, one should simply factor in Canadian, European, and the rest of the world’s financial dedication to the apartheid regime in the holy land. Therefore divesting from the Israeli economy not only weakens a racist system, it saves almost every citizen living in the developed nations thousands of dollars a year. To sanction, in the context of international relations, is to penalize in the form of moral, diplomatic and economic pressure to ensure compliance or conformity for violating a moral principle or international law.

Well, the apartheid state of Israel is by no means a stranger to violating international laws. It has breached international conventions, UN resolutions, and human-rights declarations and infringed basic legality issues with its occupation of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza (such as the restriction and prevention of their movement.)

More recently, Israel has not declared war on Hamas or the Gaza Strip because it would have to legally comply with more international rules of engagement, and thus treat the Palestinians in Gaza more humanely than it does today. As Israel’s recent attacks on the humanitarian aid flotillas to the Strip have shown, for a blockade to be legal under international maritime law, it must be approved by the UN Security Council. The Gaza blockade was not approved by the Security Council. A blockade therefore does not legitimize the Israeli Army’s boarding of the flotilla ships in international waters when the blockade itself is considered illegal. Let us explore another one of these international violations: Israel’s apartheid wall in occupied Palestine.

On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice in the Hague issued a five-point press release announcing that “the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law.” By 14 votes to one, “Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease … the works of construction of the wall being built in the OPT, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle … the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective … all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto.” By 14 votes to one, “Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the OPT, including in and around East Jerusalem.” By 13 votes to two, “all states are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction; all states parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 12, 1949, have in addition the obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention.” And finally by 14 votes to one, “the United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated regime, taking due account of the present Advisory Opinion.”

Yet Israel continues to build its apartheid wall for “security” reasons. Stop the Wall is a coalition of Palestinian non-governmental organizations and popular committees that mobilize and coordinate efforts on local, national and international levels with the aim to dismantle the apartheid wall and resist Israeli occupation and colonization. It states that upon completion the wall will de facto annex approximately 46 percent of the West Bank (itself 22 percent of historic Palestine) and isolate communities in bantustans, ghettos, and military zones. In fact, the complete isolation of certain villages has already taken place. In the case of Qalqilya north of the West Bank, Israel’s concrete wall surrounds the entire village from all sides, literally caging its inhabitants and restricting their movement into and out of their village to just one gate guarded by an Israeli Occupation Forces.

As it snakes its way into the Occupied Territories, the wall will eventually be 760 kilometers long – three times longer than the 1967 Green Line separating Israel and the occupied West Bank. The Israeli government proudly claims that it has “worked” to prevent suicide missions from entering Israel.Instead of addressing and eliminating the root causes of extremism, namely its oppressive and illegal policies of theft, occupation, genocide, racism, destruction, and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Israel’s security/fear card is once again dealt to its own people and the wider international community as a smokescreen tool to annex more Palestinian lands and further the oppression of the Palestinian people.

How BDS against Apartheid Israel works –– a case example

To boycott, divest, & sanction Israel is thus legitimate. Enabling its legitimacy is the global BDS movement for Palestine. Since its official call to action in 2005, hundreds of organizations worldwide have made BDS against Israel their choice for legal, ethical, humanitarian reasons. From pension funds and supermarket chains in Europe to workers’ unions and universities in North America, their demands for justice and equality for Palestinians have emphasized the ethical DNA built into the movement’s goals. One particular dimension that has proven its utmost resilience is the revival of BDS campaigns through various university student groups in the United States.

Countless universities across the US have been responding to the 2005 campaign call for boycott, divestments, and sanctions against Israel. Hampshire College, being the first US university to divest from apartheid South Africa in 1977, was also the first to divest from apartheid Israel in February 2009. Since then, over 20 universities have launched or are in the process of launching similar campaigns calling for divestments from corporations benefiting from Israeli occupation, war crimes, and human-rights violations. University of California (UC) Berkeley was the first of the California Universities to pass the historic SB 118 divestment bill with a 16-4 vote until it was undemocratically vetoed a week later by its president Will Smelko; according to UC Berkeley student sources, Smelko was “was pressured by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most powerful Zionist lobby in Washington DC, with threats of being black-listed from grad-schools and career opportunities.”

UC San Diego also presented a similar resolution and now over 20 other universities across the United States are preparing the same. It is imperative to note the following: given Corporate America’s zionized nature, many of these students, teachers and academic professionals are risking their careers by making BDS their choice on ethical grounds. Even more so, in reaction to the Arab League’s boycott in the 70s, antiboycott laws in the United States have been enacted to further the agenda of SIGs (Special Interest Groups).

One can be fined, have export privileges revoked, or even imprisoned, if they do not comply with a request for a boycott that the US government does not sanction. Even though there were major boycott efforts of apartheid South Africa and more recently of Sudan, this law has primarily only been enforced against companies that comply with requests for boycotts against or divestment’s from apartheid Israel. Despite all these constraints, American college students are managing, quite astonishingly, to organize and demand their universities to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel for its unlawful behavior against the Palestinians.

So far, these universities include Hampshire, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, Michigan, the University of Arizona, and Evergreen State College. Dozens more are expected to be announced in the coming year.

The impediments to BDS in the Arab world

Whilst BDS has shown immense progress globally, the state of Israel is finding new opportunities and new markets in its own backyard. On February 27, 2010, the BBC reported an Egyptian Supreme Court decision overturning an earlier ruling by a lower court banning natural gas sales to Israel. The decision now requires Egypt to make clear the quantity of gas it exports to Israel and how much it charges.

According to the report, “lawyers had argued that the gas was being sold at preferential rates. Egypt’s gas trade with Israel is controversial as many Egyptians are opposed to links between the two countries – despite a 1979 peace deal.” This is revealing, as the Egyptian government is clearly not representing the will nor the demand of its people.

In fact, only a week earlier the Associated Press ran a story on the increasing shortages of cooking gas for low-income neighborhoods in Egypt: “[Egyptian] Authorities [are] scrambling to find a solution and has once again fueled criticism that the government … is unable to deal with the problems of its people. The
report says “the government … has blamed bad weather, which it said forced ports to close this month, delaying gas shipments,” but given the Supreme Court’s ruling the week after, it’s that the Egyptian government cares more about Israel than it does for its own citizens.

Israel also enjoys the benefits of free trade agreements with the Kingdom of Jordan. In Article 7 of its peace treat signed in 1994 with the Hashemite state, the aim is to promote economic cooperation by removing “discriminatory barriers and terminating economic boycotts.” Indeed, with the establishment of Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) throughout the kingdom, some factories are partially owned by Israeli businesses now employing almost 15,000 Jordanians, according to Jordanian government sources. The QIZs now supply (i.e. render dependent) the Jordanian economy with $500 million worth of exports to the United States, which can revoke the agreement at any time. An October 25, 1995, statement made by Israel’s Trade Ministry on the Israel-Jordan trade agreement clearly outlines the facilitation of Israeli products “enjoy[ing] import preferences to Jordan.

[These include] plywood, tires, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, electronic components, medical equipment, communications equipment, locks and safes and other products.” While the QIZs and free-trade agreements are being portrayed as positive initiatives “furthering peace and economic advancement” between Israel and Jordan, the reality is that Israel and its businesses greatly benefit from the cheaper labor in Jordan. The minimum wage rate in Israel is 3,850 new shekels/month (almost $1,000), while in Jordan it is 110 Dinars/month (approximately $155/month). That’s almost an 85 percent saving for Israeli firms. Israeli companies are thus taking advantage of the political standoff with the Arab states by developing new economic ties with the Arab world to solidify its apartheid regime in Palestine. These are the broader outcomes of the peace treaties signed with Egypt and Jordan.

There is a much more explicit Arab impediment to the global BDS movement, and its consequences can be directly felt in a particular Palestinian village in the West Bank; that village is Bil’in. Bil’in is situated approximately 15 kilometers north-west of Ramallah. Like in so many other towns across the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces are building the apartheid wall right through it to annex more Palestinian lands, separate more Palestinian families, build more illegal Israeli settlements, with the ultimate goal to disenfranchise and ethnically cleanse the indigenous people from their country. The driving force behind this ethnic cleansing is Lev Leviev, a multi-billionaire Israeli businessman originally from Uzbekistan. His net worth is estimated at roughly $1.5 billion following the global financial crisis. His publicly listed investment firm,
Africa Israel Investments, has operations in the jewelery real-state, telecom, energy, and fashion industries in Israel and around the world. His take-over of the Angolan diamond industry from De Beers rendered him an infamous enabler of blood diamonds.

Adalah, a grassroots organization based in New York aiming to end US and US-sponsored Israeli aggression in the Middle East, defines Leviev’s business: “Africa-Israel has built housing units on occupied Palestinian lands in such settlements as Mattityahu, east on the land of the village of Bil’in, and in the settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim.

[Leviev] owns and builds settlement homes in … Zufim on the land of the village of Jayyous.” Yet the story of Bil’in, along with its sister villages of Ni’lin and Jayyous further westward, has a dark connection with one of the glitziest cities in the Arab world: Dubai. As Leviev planned to expand his jewelery branches in the Emirate, Dubai’s Department of Economic Development officially did not grant his company a trade license to operate in the city citing that they were “aware of these reports and have not granted a trade license to any business of this name,” as reported on April 29, 2008, in Gulf News. However, with the help of a local Palestinian Zionist businessman named Aref bin Khadra, Leviev managed to offer his products through bin Khadra’s Levant jewelery chains in al-Qasr and Atlantis hotels, as well as in Dubai Mall. Leviev Jewelries are prominently displayed for the local Arabs and tourists to purchase. And purchasing Leviev diamonds directly help increase Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.

“For me, Israel, [occupied] Jerusalem and Haifa are all the same. So are the [Syrian] Golan Heights. [What] to decide [on] the future of Jerusalem? It belongs to the Jewish people. What is there to decide? Jerusalem is not a topic for discussion,” Leviev once said to an Israeli newspaper shortly before the Gulf News report. Another reason impeding the global BDS movements in the Arab world is the state of the Arab psyche.

As a result of booming economies prior to the global financial crisis, young middle to upper-class Arabs, particularly those living the Gulf, bathed in artificially enhanced mode-de-vies. The Palestinian communities, both in and outside the region, are not immune to these comfort zones. Whilst the overall impression of Israel is naturally built-in anger, reactionary generalizations against the Jewish people, and never-ending rhetoric of longing for a dispossessed land, grass-roots initiatives, pro-active political lobbying, and subsequent government support are minimal, if not totally absent. A worrying trend within the Arab mindset is the normalization of the conflict with apartheid Israel.

Sending money to various charities or the development of certain projects in the Occupied Palestinian Territories do have their positive effects, but they are not enough. Local and expat Arabs have become so detached from the realities of what daily life is like in the occupied Palestine that it has become a form of silent collusion. This sense of political detachment is a direct result of the governments’ inability and refusal to exert political, diplomatic, economic, and strategic pressure on the apartheid state of Israel. Thus a vicious circle emerges as a result of this lack of government and public involvement in further isolating Israel economically. To break this vicious circle, personal initiatives are needed and have actually started.

BDS going forward

One such initiative is the Oyooni Mobile Eye Clinic in Palestine. Founded by Kuwait-born Palestinian Doctor Ali Dabbagh, whose general practice spans more than two decades predominantly dedicated to the field of medical ophthalmology, Oyooni is a non-profit organization that raises funds to directly purchase equipment used for eye treatments of Palestinian children, for no charge. At a Pecha Kucha presentation session held in Dubai on May 26, 2010, Dr. Dabbagh posed the question: “Have we become so cocooned in our comfort zones, be they what they may, due to complacency, vanity, guilt, greed or simply guileless?” The reasoning behind simply donating money to the people of Palestine has become somewhat of a “guilt tax.” Dr. Dabbagh puts it this way: “Life has been turned from being rightsbased to aids based.” Addressing the rights of the Palestinians thus means joining in and empowering the call for global BDS movement against the Israeli apartheid regime.

UCSD student Leena Barakat put the answer so succinctly following her university’s announcement for BDS against Israel: “What does it mean to be a Palestinian? A Palestinian is not defined by race, or by religion, or by place of origin, but by the will to resist inhumanity, the will to resist injustice, and the will to resist racism. ‘Palestinian’ means the will to sacrifice for the sake of the other, to give for the sake of a better future for all, to resist for the sake of a better living for future generations. So, with that said, how many of you have just become Palestinian?”

The questions thus remain: Why is Leviev operating in the Middle East when several global pension funds and investment banks in Europe and the United States have divested the Africa-Israel stock from their portfolios? Why are Arab governments allowing Leviev and other Israeli companies to even access Middle Eastern markets in the first place? More recently, during both the Gaza massacre of 2008/09 and the flotilla massacre of 2010, why haven’t the Jordanian and Egyptian governments recalled their ambassadors from Israel like Sweden, Spain, Turkey and Greece; let alone halt/cancel all economic treaties and relations that anyway do more harm than good to their people? Why is the Arab world being up-started by other nations like Turkey when it comes to confronting Israel’s daily crimes against Palestinian humanity? Isn’t it high time for Arab governments, corporations, universities, and citizens to come together, watch, learn, and extend their arms in solidarity with the global BDS momentum taking place around the world?

The legitimacy to boycott, divest, and sanction the apartheid state of Israel rests. Following the indiscriminate killing of aid activists onboard the flotilla ships to Gaza by Zionist forces this past week, and out of respect for those who have sacrificed their lives to bring much needed aid to the people of Gaza, it is now time for us, the Arab world, to embrace BDS and take to the next level. Indeed we must not only swim with the global tide against apartheid Israel; we must lead it.

Mohannad EL-Khairy is a Palestinian residing in Dubai after living and studying in Canada for 18 years. He currently works in the financial sector and maintains a blog entitled Money & Mud Uncensored

Alternative H&M Price Tags in Sweden

Posted in International BDS Actions, What You Can Do on June 24, 2010 by Marcy Newman

In June 2010, clothes in H&M stores across Sweden have been labeled with alternative price tags. The new sticker price tags are similar in size and style to the original labels, and carry the message of the BDS against H&M campaign.

Price tag text in English:

Solidarity 0 EUR

Israel is today criticised more harshly than ever for the occupation of Palestine. At the same time, H&M chooses to open seven stores in that country and thereby fund and profit from the occupation.

We are many who demand that H&M should abort their establishment in Israel. If you also support solidarity with Palestine, you should choose to shop somewhere else. Solidarity is free.

Boycott H&M!

Don’t buy into
the occupation
Check out bdshm.org

Marking the 5th anniversary of the Palestinian Civil Society BDS Call

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Take Action, What You Can Do on May 28, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Celebrating our Victories, Planning for More!

9 July 2010

Occupied Palestine – The Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on people of conscience all over the world to unite for a BDS Media Day on 9 July 2010, the 5th anniversary of launching the BDS movement and the 6th anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion stating that Israel is to dismantle its illegal Wall and associated colonial regime.

Five years since the call for BDS against Israel until it complies with international law, the global BDS movement has grown to become a force to be reckoned with. It is time to celebrate our well-deserved achievements, to critically and rationally appraise our present challenges, and to further strengthen our collective resolve to end Israel’s three-tiered system of oppression against the Palestinian people by making it pay the price for it through our civil BDS campaigns in all fields.

For this anniversary on 9 July the BNC urges all partners to focus on the media to reach a wider audience:

– Publish BDS articles in your local and national press;

– Brief journalists on your BDS activities, establish enduring relationships and make a case with them on why they should cover BDS;

– Stage public actions with focus on media, such as direct action and launching of high profile campaigns, publicize legal actions, expose violators and promote public debates;

– Use alternative media to mark the anniversary;

Activists from 22 countries answered our last call for a Global BDS Day of Action on 30 March, commemorating the Palestinian Land Day, with meaningful actions. Join us on 9 July 2010 for a day of media-focused activities to celebrate our achievements and plan for the future.

For information on how to join this global event and how to develop ongoing BDS action in your country, organization and network, please contact the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) at: ziyaad[at]bdsmovement.net. For more information see: http://bdsdayofaction.net

Five years since the BDS Call – building hope for change, promoting Israel’s accountability, asserting Palestinian rights

Six years ago, on 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declared illegal the Wall under construction in the occupied Palestinian West Bank and ruled that Israel was to dismantle it and make reparations to its Palestinians victims. The ICJ, in this landmark ruling, further stated[1]:

“As regards the legal consequences for other States, the Court finds that all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction. The Court further finds that it is for all States, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to see to it that any impediment, resulting from the construction of the wall, in the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self‑determination is brought to an end. In addition, all States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention are under an obligation, while respecting the Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention.”

The resounding failure of world governments to uphold their said obligations was the direct trigger for launching the BDS movement as a civil society response to official international collusion with Israel’s persistent denial of Palestinian rights and its ongoing disregard of international law. Inspired by the struggles that unite people from around the world by the virtue of their common humanity, especially the struggle against South African apartheid in the past, the 2005 BDS call has sought to galvanize mass citizen action as pressure and counterforce to states. Western states, in particular, which provide unconditional political, economic, academic and military support to Israel, have nourished and sustained its colonial and racist violence against the Palestinian people, setting back any hope for a just and comprehensive peace.

Undeterred by the far-reaching conclusions of the ICJ opinion and, more recently, the UN Goldstone Report which found serious evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, and emboldened by Western complicity, Israel has continued, with full impunity, its construction of the Wall and colonies in occupied Palestinian territory; its fatal siege of Gaza; its ethnic cleansing of entire Palestinian communities in occupied Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev) desert; and its denial of the Palestinian right to free movement, education, access to health services and water resources, among other rights. In short, Israel has entrenched its regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid, and no action has been taken by the UN and the hegemonic powers to stop this.

Following a long tradition of Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and human dignity a wide coalition of Palestinian civil society issued the BDS Call to assert the primacy of the right to self-determination. As stated in the BDS Call, this consists of the fundamental rights of the three main components of the Palestinian people: to live free from Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; to end Israel’s system of racial discrimination, or apartheid; and for the refugees, the great majority of the Palestinian people, to exercise their UN-sanctioned right to return to their homes of origin.

The BDS movement has presented the best hope yet to effectively and morally counter Israel’s frantic attempts to sideline these basic Palestinian rights. Based on progressive, anti-racist principles, it has tapped into the creative energies of dedicated people of conscience the world over, in their diversity and variance of contexts. Major trade union federations, from South Africa to Brazil, Ireland and the UK, as well as many trade unions in major Western countries have endorsed boycott measures against Israel. Campaigns against free trade and other agreements with Israel span from Argentina, Chile and Brazil to the EU.

Academic boycott campaigns have sprung in several countries, including Britain, the US, France, Canada, Italy, Spain, Australia and Norway. More international cultural figures of the weight of Ken Loach, John Berger, Naomi Klein, Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello and Carlos Santana are heeding the call for a cultural boycott of Israel and its complicit institutions.

Divestment from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation and violation of Palestinian rights are spreading across tens of campuses in the US and Canada, with Hampshire College being the first to actually pass motions to divest, and with the student senate at the University of California at Berkeley coming as close as a vote of 80% for divestment, only to be undemocratically vetoed by the senate’s president. Five Nobel laureates and many prominent public intellectuals have issued statements supporting the Berkeley divestment campaign, raising public awareness about the complicity of Western corporations and institutions in Israel’s infringement of Palestinian rights. Campaigns to divest from Lev Leviev Diamonds and to boycott other Israeli and international companies implicated in Israel’s human rights violations are developing apace.

At the official level, the European Parliament endorsed the Goldstone report and its recommendations, which called for investigation and prosecution of those responsible for Israel’s crimes in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. Several suspected Israeli war criminals came close to facing legal charges in Belgium, Britain, Spain, the United States and elsewhere. Sanctions by Spain against an Israeli academic team from the illegal colony-college of Ariel, and by the Norwegian and Swedish national pension funds against Israel’s major weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems, have also ushered in a new phase in the growth of the BDS movement into the Western mainstream. Another key indicator of this changes was the recent European Court of Justice ruling that Israel’s colonial settlement products cannot enjoy tax breaks under the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which itself is being intensely challenged by main political forces and human rights groups across Europe. South Africa’s foreign ministry now regularly defines Israeli policies as “reminiscent of apartheid,” while Venezuela and Bolivia have entirely cut diplomatic relations with Israel.

Support for BDS has also grown among progressive, anti-colonialist Israeli civil society; so has endorsement of the movement by a growing number of Jewish groups in the West. The Palestinian voice, after decades of being shunned, muzzled or considered irrelevant, is back in the lead and Palestinian wishes are respected. We salute those standing with us in this struggle for justice, freedom and dignity.

As BDS continues to chart spectacular victories at the grassroots level, powerful states have continued to appease Israel and whitewash its crimes. Most recently, member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) decided to admit Israel in blatant violation of their own obligations under international law and in contravention of the Organization’s own charter. Moreover, the US, EU, UN and Russia – representatives of which form the self-appointed “Quartet” that dictates the terms of the “peace process” – are hatching yet another plan aimed at creating what they label a “state,” which will in fact be a formalization of the current Palestinian ghettos, or Bantustans, undermining basic Palestinian rights.

On the 5th anniversary of the BDS call, it is therefore crucial to reaffirm that any political solution must guarantee the basic Palestinian rights laid out in the 2005 BDS Call for: ending Israel’s occupation and colonization, ending apartheid, and implementing the right of return for the refugees.

Let’s make 9 July a special media-focused day to celebrate 5 years of the BDS struggle and to reach out to a wider audience!

[1] http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&case=131&k=5a

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