Sheffield PSC Tag Cloud

SPSC Tweets

So inspiring: Israeli ship is blocked from unloading in Oakland for four straight days http://t.co/Fkwf7i1SQY #BDS #BlockTheBoat19 hours 21 min ago
Israeli ship is blocked from unloading in Oakland for four straight days http://t.co/iu2R0daJeY #BDS #Palestine19 hours 48 min ago
Britain decides to keep on arming Israel http://t.co/tHkf2Z84eD #BDS #Palestine21 hours 6 min ago
Incredible! Israeli ship is blocked from unloading in Oakland for four straight days http://t.co/PftFOOFcQb #BDS #BlockTheBoat21 hours 14 min ago
European companies continue to divest from Israel: Dutch services company ISS has sold its Israeli subsidiary http://t.co/sGnxDrUjbf #BDS21 hours 23 min ago
How many bombs has Israel dropped on Gaza? http://t.co/mnYwgw3jE121 hours 54 min ago
Ireland’s biggest food retailer drops Israeli produce, as European boycotts surge http://t.co/4j8jMo7RTN #BDS #Palestine22 hours 3 min ago
Sheffield PSC - Let Gaza hear your voice this Saturday - http://t.co/VacdZHc52Z22 hours 14 min ago
On Gaza and global rage http://t.co/h0EK4yRPJ2 #BDS #Palestine22 hours 51 min ago
European firms continue to divest from Israel: Dutch services company ISS has sold its Israeli subsidiary http://t.co/fbx9G2CU38 #BDS22 hours 54 min ago

BDS movement

Syndicate content
The Palestinian BDS National Committee website
Updated: 15 min 25 sec ago

Israeli ship is blocked from unloading in Oakland for four straight days

Tue, 19/08/2014 - 9:08pm

San Francisco Bay Area activists have not allowed a vessel from Israel’s largest shipping company to unload in the Oakland Port for four consecutive mornings.

On Tuesday, 19 August, at 6:45am, activists declared yet another victory against the Zim Line, which has been trying to make its way into Oakland since Saturday, 16 August.

Lara Kiswani, the executive director of the local Arab Resource and Organizing Center, told The Electronic Intifada that they are now waiting to hear if the Zim Line will leave the Port of Oakland today with the cargo it brought. “If not,” Kiswani wrote in an email, “we will continue to mobilize until it does.”

Organizers had initially planned a one-day action for 16 August, delaying the weekly, Saturday-scheduled offloading of the Zim ship by just one full work day. Saturday’s success was seamless: the Zim Pireaus avoided the Oakland Port completely, preferring to remain at sea south of Oakland rather than meet the thousands of protesters who had descended onto the docks.

But, fueled off the initial triumph, activists returned to Berth 57 at the Oakland Port the next evening, on Sunday, 17 August.

At 5pm Sunday, activists released an urgent call for activists to convene at the port. Within thirty minutes of the call, hundreds of people returned to the docks. Workers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) – Local 10 honored the picket line, and refused to unload the ship.

No one would cross

Leading up to Saturday’s action, organizers had worked hard to gain the support of workers with the local ILWU, whose contracts are currently expired. While many ILWU members are eager to lend their support to Palestine — as they did before, in 2010 — others were still concerned about missing a day of work in the absence of an internal contract agreement.

But Monday came, and the Zim Line sat at the Oakland Port: no one would cross the picket line, even though the numbers of demonstrators had thinned since the weekend — and as of Tuesday morning, the ship remained full of cargo. Because the union is out of contract, they are not obliged to defer to a port arbitrator to decide whether or not they must go to work as it is an internal decision.

On Monday, the ILWU issued a statement on their compliance with the picket line, maintaining that it was the “unsafe conditions” that led them to their decision:

The ILWU has taken no position on the issue associated with the demonstration, but in cases when unsafe circumstances arise at the point of entry, the union must protect the safety of its members in the workplace …

SSA [Stevedoring Services of America], after recognizing the safety situation associated with ingress to their gates, released all ILWU manpower at 7:30 p.m.

More actions to come

This is the first time that an Israeli ship has been obstructed from docking for more than one day due to protest.

Activists here are looking forward to the future. In September, an annual weapons convention held in Oakland, Urban Shield, will feature numerous Israeli companies, and the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) is already mobilizing against it.

While the port shutdown was in response to Israel’s current bombardment of Gaza and a direct appeal by Palestinian trade union groups, local organizations like AROC want the action to mark the first of many direct mobilizations against Israel’s decades-long control of Palestinians and US-supported colonization of their land.

Ireland’s biggest food retailer drops Israeli produce, as European boycotts surge

Tue, 19/08/2014 - 6:58pm

Major Israeli food exporters are facing an unprecedented wave of cancelations in orders from Europe as a result of Israel’s most recent massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.

SuperValu, the biggest food distributor in Ireland, told the Irish media last week that it has withdrawn Israeli products from its shops.

And Israeli media reports suggest that other major European retailers have taken similar decisions without announcing them publicly.

Israeli fruit and vegetable exporters have faced cancelations from Scandinavia, the UK, France, Belgium and Ireland.

Retailers have become fearful of the rapidly growing consumer boycott of Israeli goods, according to an 11 August article in Hebrew business website The Marker.

A spokesperson for EDOM, a major Israeli fruit grower and exporter that has extensive operations in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, told The Marker:

Importers from Europe are telling us that they can’t sell Israeli produce … One European buyer has told me that he had been blocked in several chains in Denmark and Sweden, and then in Belgium. Last weekend, he told me that mangoes which had been packaged in the Netherlands, as always, and shipped to Ireland, were returned, claiming that Israeli produce would not be accepted …

I’ve heard of major exporters from whom chains in southern France are no longer buying. There is no official boycott, but everyone is afraid of selling Israeli fruits. We can only hope that things do not get worse.

Among the other exporters interviewed for the article is an Israeli pomegranate grower who is quoted as saying that they had been forced to cancel their “entire work plan in the UK” because major retail chains were no longer interested in Israeli goods, and that similar messages had been received from importers in Belgium and Scandinavia.

separate article published in The Marker on 27 July details how fruit juice producer Priniv had lost a major contract with a business in Sweden after refusing a request to export the produce in a way that would make it easier to conceal the fact it was produced in Israel. Customers in Belgium and France also made similar requests.

Priniv director Ido Yaniv attributes the drop in sales to Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Organized boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns have in recent years succeeded in pressuring retailers across Europe to announce that they will not stock produce from illegal Israeli settlements or from companies that operate in settlements. The Tesco chain the UK is the latest to make such an announcement.

But it is now becoming increasingly clear that European businesses are starting to react to growing public support for Palestinian rights and boycotts of Israel in Europe. They are deciding not to sell Israeli produce of any kind — at least for now.

“Disposal” of Israeli goods

Ireland’s largest grocery and food retailer distributor SuperValu instructed all of its 232 stores to remove Israeli products from the shelves earlier this month.

In an email to store managers, the chain called on store managers to “remove all stock from available sale and dispose of [it] at store level.”

“It’s mostly fruit and vegetables, carrots and herbs more specifically,” a source from the retailer told the Irish Herald

Following the Irish Herald story, SuperValu issued a statement saying that it has not officially endorsed the boycott of Israel but did not deny that Israeli products have been removed from its stores.

Major Irish toy store Smyths may have taken a similar decision, temporarily displaying a poster at one Dublin store stating that it had removed products made in Israel from the shelves.

The decisions come as part of a huge upsurge in support of the Palestinian struggle and boycotts of Israel across Ireland.

Protests have been held in retailers across the country and calls for boycott have been made by national trade unions, local councils and even sports stars including Irish and Leinster rugby star Gordon Darcy.

Building the boycott

Calls for boycotts of Israeli products, for sanctions and a military embargo to be imposed on Israel have been a key part of the huge mass demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza that have taken place across the world in recent weeks.

Civil society organizations are responding to the attack on Gaza by announcing new boycott initiatives.

In the weeks and months that follow, the challenge for campaigners will be to ramp up the pressure on retailers to remove Israeli products and to make their refusal to do so public.

Campaigns against the sale of Israeli fresh produce have been a major focus of the solidarity movement in Europe in recent years.

BDS initiatives have focused on Israeli companies such as Mehadrin and EDOM that play a key role in the colonization of Palestinian land in the West Bank and profit from the siege of Gaza, as research published by Palestinian farming unions has detailed.

In January, Israeli settler leaders in the Jordan Valley region of the West Bank told the Associated Press that the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign had cost settlers $29 million in lost sales, especially in Europe.

Campaigns against Israeli fresh produce exporters have intensified following thedecision by the UK Co-operative retail chain to boycott all companies that operate in settlements, with campaigns also underway in FranceSpainBelgium, theNetherlandsGermanyNorway and Sweden.

In 2011, Israeli export company Agrexco entered into liquidation after boycotts and campaigns in thirteen European countries that saw retailers cut links with the company, blockades of its UK and Belgium warehouses and a huge mobilization against plans for an Agrexco distribution center in Sete in the south of France.

Israeli analyst Shir Hever suggested at the time that farmers leaving Agrexco to export their products through other channels because of the boycott campaign was a major factor behind the company’s collapse.

With thanks to Boycott From Within for translation from Hebrew.

Tags: 

On Gaza and global rage

Tue, 19/08/2014 - 5:59pm

Palestinian efforts to encourage a boycott of Israel, modeled on the South African anti-apartheid global campaign, is gaining momentum as a democratic movement

On 9 August, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide took to the streets in response to a call from Palestinian civil society in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip, and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions, National Committee (BNC), for a Day of Rage.

This mobilization comes as grassroots pressure mounts on complicit Western governments to impose a military embargo on Israel. In its call for a Day of Rage, Palestinian Civil Society made it absolutely clear that:

“As we face the full might of Israel’s military arsenal, funded and supplied by the United States and the European Union, we call on civil society and people of conscience throughout the world to pressure governments to sanction Israel and implement a comprehensive arms embargo immediately. Take to the streets … with a united demand for sanctions on Israel.”

In response to an earlier call issued by the same civil society organizations in Gaza, and endorsed by the BNC, Spain announced a “provisional” suspension of military exports to Israel on 31 July. On 7 August, Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, became the first head of state to declare his support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). These actions were a precursor to the global support for Gaza and Palestine shown on 9 August.

The Israeli wrath inflicted on the Palestinians of Gaza, two-thirds of whom are refugees, entitled to the right of return, comes within an ideological context of tribal bigotry, racism, and exclusivism. In 2004, Israeli Professor Arnon Soffer, Head of the Israeli Occupation Force’s National Defense College, and advisor to Ariel Sharon, spelt out Israel’s macabre expectation from the unilateral Israeli disengagement from Gaza (2005) in an interview with The Jerusalem Post:

“[W]hen 1.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today,… The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day…If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist…Unilateral separation doesn’t guarantee “peace” – it guarantees a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews”

Then, there is the view bluntly expressed in 2002 by Israel’s then chief of staff, General Moshe Yaalon, which sums up the objective of the current blood bath: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people”.

The resemblance of Israel’s campaign of tribal racist hate both to that of apartheid South Africa and to Hitler’s murderous regime has recently been articulated by ANC freedom fighter and former South African Cabinet Minister, Ronnie Kasrils, who is Jewish:

“Certainly we South Africans can identify the pathological cause, fuelling the hate, of Israel’s political-military elite and public in general. Neither is this difficult for anyone acquainted with colonial history to understand the way in which deliberately cultivated race hate inculcates a justification for the most atrocious and inhumane actions against even defenseless civilians – women, children, the elderly amongst them. In fact was this not the pathological racist ideology that fuelled Hitler’s war lust and implementation of the Holocaust?”

The Israeli establishment’s stated goal of annihilating Palestinians to manage the “demographic threat” and to maintain “calm” by “mowing the lawn” (Israeli-speak for flattening Gaza every two years) is exactly why we in Palestine have concluded that the Palestinian struggle for self-determination must work to isolate apartheid Israel in the same way that apartheid South Africa was isolated through a campaign of Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS.)

Today, there is a growing mass-based non-violent struggle inside Palestine, alongside other forms of struggle, exactly as there was inside apartheid South Africa. It is also evident today that the Palestinian BDS campaign, modeled on the South African anti-apartheid global campaign, is gaining momentum as a democratic movement based on the universality of human rights and the implementation of international law. These values are the antithesis of Zionism, Israel’s hegemonic ideology, which is about religious, ethnic, and racial superiority. Our struggle, like that of Blacks in South Africa, and African Americans in the United States, is inclusive and pluralistic: one that maintains our humanity and dignity in the face of a racist, genocidal state.

This is exactly what Steve Biko, a hero of the South African anti-apartheid struggle – who paid with his life for the freedom of all South Africans – meant when he said:

“Not only have the whites been guilty of being on the offensive, but by some skilful manoeuvres, they have managed to control the responses of the blacks to the provocation. Not only have they kicked the black, but they have also told him how to react to the kick. For a long time the black has been listening with patience to the advice he has been receiving on how best to respond to the kick. With painful slowness he is now beginning to show signs that it is his right and duty to respond to the kick in the way he sees fit.”

And we, Palestinians, have decided to respond to the Zionist kick in the way we see fit! And for that, we need the support of the freedom-loving “every man and every woman”, as opposed to the complicit, official world leaders who have chosen to support oppression and blame the victim. Now is the time for global civil society to help us end Israeli racism and genocide. The only way to ensure a just peace and redress for Palestinian dispossession is for global civil society to intensify the boycott of the apartheid Israeli state, and by advocating for divestment from Israel and sanctions against it.

Veteran Australian journalist John Pilger , writing in The New Statesman on the 2009 assault on Gaza said:

“What happens in Gaza is the defining moment of our time, which either grants the impunity of war criminals the immunity of our silence, while we contort our own intellect and morality, or gives us the power to speak out.”

The global masses that demonstrated their support for Palestinian rights on the Day of Rage, remind us of the demonstrations in the 1980s against apartheid South Africa. These global protests since 2009 have shown us in Palestine that this is our “South Africa moment”. Just as the South African internal mass-based anti-apartheid struggle and the international anti-apartheid boycott and solidarity movement brought an end to the apartheid regime, Palestinians, with the support of people of conscience worldwide, will bring an end to Israel’s multi-tiered system of oppression.

Governments across the world must be forced to act in accordance with the will of their people and hold Israel accountable for war crimes, and impose sanctions and an arms embargo. People of conscience globally have spoken and their voices have reached us here in Gaza. We know that their voices have been heard in the capitals of the world and that their voices signal an end to Israeli apartheid. The clock is ticking.

Hence the importance of the Gaza Day of Rage!

- Dr Haidar Eid is Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo credit: housands of people stage a solidarity demonstration for Gaza toprotest the Israeli attacks in Gaza Strip on August 9, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.
- See more at: http://middleeasteye.net/columns/gaza-and-global-rage-14376521#sthash.An03cMXz.dpuf

Freedom and justice For Gaza: Boycott action against 7 complicit companies

Fri, 15/08/2014 - 4:54pm

Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid is once again committing heinous massacres on the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Israel enjoys criminal impunity because of the direct support from governments in the North America and Europe but also from corporations that are implicated in the Israeli occupation and egregious human rights violations.

There are dozens of companies that play an active and ongoing role in facilitating Israeli apartheid. In light of the exceptionally bloody massacres Israel is currently committing in Gaza, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) suggests to BDS activists and every conscientious person and organization around the world to target the following 7 companies as a matter of urgency.

READ MORE: Read our Get Involved page for more ideas on companies to boycott and ways to get involved in the Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement

1. Hewlett Packard (HP)

IT company Hewlett Packard is involved in various Israeli violations of international law through providing the Israeli occupation forces with a vast range of IT services and infrastructure solutions.

This includes the operation of an ID system installed in Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and the administration of the IT system of the Israeli Navy that enforces the naval blockade of Gaza and that is deeply involved in committing war crimes in the ongoing aggression on Gaza.

By providing such significant support to the Israeli military, HP is an active accomplice to Israel’s siege on Gaza. That’s why the Presbyterian Church USA and the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) have divested from the company.

Take action:
- Boycott HP consumer products. Don’t buy HP laptops, printers or ink cartridges!
- Sign the petition calling on HP CEO Meg Whitman to end the company’s collaboration with the Israeli military
- Campaign for divestment from HP and for the company to be excluded from public contracts. Get in touch for ideas on how to get started.

2. Caterpillar

Caterpillar bulldozers are regularly used in the demolition of Palestinian homes and farms, and the Israeli army has used unmanned Caterpillar bulldozers in the 2008-09 attacks in Gaza. A CAT bulldozer was also used by Israel in killing US activist Rachel Corrie in Rafah in 2003. The Presbyterian Church USA, the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) and the Church of England have all divested from Caterpillar.

Take action:
Boycott Caterpillar consumer products such as shoes, bags and tools!
- Campaign for divestment from Caterpillar. Get in touch for ideas on how to get started.

3. SodaStream

While not directly implicated in Israel’s on-going attack in Gaza, home drink carbonation machines produced by SodaStream are one of Israel’s most visible and widely advertised exports. Tax revenue from SodaStream sales help to fund Israel’s attack on Gaza.

SodaStream operates in the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank, and the company’s plan to open a factory inside Israel beside Rahat, a planned Palestinian Bedouin township in the Naqab (Negev) desert, amounts to participation in Israel’s plans to forcibly displace at least 40,000 Palestinian Bedouins into townships.

John Lewis in the UK recently became the latest retailer to stop stocking SodaStream products and protests forced a SodaStream store in Brighton, UK, to close recently. The company’s share price has fallen by 50% in the past year, especially since a scandal over actor Scarlett Johansson’s association with the brand.

Take action:
- Boycott all SodaStream products and call on retailers not to stock them!
- Organise a demonstration or flashmob at a retailer near you that sells SodaStream products. Check out Codepink’s action guide for ideas.

4. Elbit Systems

Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest military company. It provides a wide range of equipment and services to the Israeli military, including surveillance equipment used in Israel’s illegal Wall and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), known as drones. Elbit Systems armed drones are widely used by the Israeli military and were documented as being used in attacks on unarmed civilians during the 2008-09 assault on Gaza.

According to Palestinian human rights organization Al Mezan Center, armed drones killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza in the period 2000-2010. Palestinian and international human rights organisations have reported numerous attacks on Palestinians by drones during the current attack on Gaza.

Elbit Systems markets its drone technology across the world as ‘field tested’. Countries that have procured UAVs from Elbit include Australia, Canada, Croatia, France, Georgia, Mexico, Singapore, Sweden, the UK, Brazil and USA.

The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund and more than a dozen European banks have divested from Elbit Systems.

Take action:
- Sign the call for a military embargo on Israel
- Call on UK bank Barclays and on pension funds to divest from Elbit Systems

5. Israeli banks (including Hapoalim and Leumi)

© Oren Ziv/ActiveStills

Israel’s private banks provide the financial infrastructure for all activities of companies, military bodies, governmental agencies and individuals in the continuing occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory and provide significant financing to the construction of illegal Israeli settlements and the on-going colonisation of Palestinian land.

Israeli banks have severed their contractual connections with the Palestinian banks in Gaza and stopped providing any and all services to them. Given the way in which the Palestinian economy is dominated by and dependent on the Israeli economy, this had a devastating impact on the local Gazan economy.

A number of European pension funds including Dutch pension giant PGGM, the Luxembourg sovereign wealth fund and Denmark’s biggest bank Danske Bank have already divested from Israeli banks.

Take Action:
- Send a Tweet to Dutch Pension giant ABP calling on them to divest from Israeli banks that fund the Israel occupation and settlements
- Campaign for your own pension fund or any institution you are a part of to divest from Israeli banks. Get in touch for ideas on how to get started.

6. G4S

G4S is a British security company that provides a wide range of equipment and services to the Israeli government and military including to Israeli checkpoints and to prisons where Palestinians, including many children, are held without trial and subjected to torture.

G4S provides equipment used in Israeli-run checkpoints at the Erez crossing between occupied Gaza and Israel, thereby directly assisting Israel’s siege on Gaza.

The international campaign against G4S has cost the company millions of dollars in contracts with universities, charities and other public bodies and has seen the Bill Gates Foundation, the United Methodist Church and others divest from the company.

In response, G4S has recently claimed that it will end some aspects of its role in Israeli apartheid and has stated it intends to end its role in Israel’s prisons by 2017, yet the campaign against the company must continue until its complicity in Israeli apartheid verifiably comes to a complete end.

Take action:
- Add your name to the open letter calling on G4S to end its support for Israeli apartheid and colonialism
- Campaign for your G4S to be excluded from public contracts. Get in touch for ideas on how to get started.

7. Mekorot

Click to view a larger version of this infographic on Israel’s water apartheid

Mekorot is Israel’s national water company and illegally appropriates Palestinian water, diverting it to illegal Israeli settlements and towns inside Israel, and imposes severe obstacles to Palestinians accessing their own water.

Mekorot is part of the Israeli occupation complex that denies Palestinians access to their fair share of aquifers that should be shared between Israel and Gaza. Palestinian and international organisations in Gaza are warning that Gaza’s water crisis is being rapidly escalated by the on-going assault on Gaza.

Mekorot is now seeking to export its discriminatory water practises and is bidding to take over water supplies all across the world as they are being privatised. Authorities in Argentina, Netherlands and Portugal have cancelled cooperation deals with Mekorot following BDS pressure.

Take action:
- Share this fact sheet on Mekorot
- Campaign for Mekorot to be excluded from local authority contracts. Get in touch for more info and ideas

READ MORE: Read our Get involved page for more ideas on companies to boycott and ways to get involved in the BDS movement

Britain decides to keep on arming Israel

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 7:28pm

Also read: British arms sales to Israel face high court challenge

Britain remains determined to keep on arming Israel, judging by a decision taken by one of the most senior figures in the UK government this week.

Vince Cable, the business secretary, has reviewed 130 licenses granted for exporting British weapons to Israel. On Tuesday, he announced that just twelve of these licenses would be suspended “in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.”

This means that if the current “truce” between Israel and Hamas holds, then Britain will deliver all the military equipment that Israel has ordered. Israel will be able to prepare for its next offensive against Gaza, with the aid of British weaponry.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) in London has complained that Cable’s decision was “not good enough.” Andrew Smith, a spokesperson for CAAT, called on the government to announce a “full embargo on all arms sales to Israel as well as an end to all military-industrial collaboration with Israel.”

Broken promises

Cable’s stance is a case of broken promises. His party, the Liberal Democrats, had urged that Britain cease selling arms to Israel in early 2009 (as a response to Operation Cast Lead, a three-week bombardment of Gaza).

The Lib Dems were in opposition then. Now that they are in government, Cable appears more interested in pleasing arms-dealers than honoring commitments to defend human rights.

Yet Cable has been consistent in terms of government behavior.

After providing the Israeli military arms that were used during Cast Lead, the UK reviewed its licenses for arms exports and revoked five used by the Israeli Navy.

A British parliamentary committee on arms exports wrote in its 2010 annual report: “It is regrettable that arms exports to Israel were almost certainly used in Operation Cast Lead.”

In January 2010, Ivan Lewis, then a minister of state for the Foreign Office, stated that “The whole point of the review process was to look at the lessons learned from a particular conflict and to use those lessons as an additional safeguard to the consolidated criteria.”

The lesson learned was limited: Lewis emphasized there would “not be any arms embargo against Israel” as the British government was “firmly of the view that Israel faces real threats.”

“Morally indefensible”

And indeed, four years later — on 2 August 2014 — CAAT revealed that the UK’s exports of military wares to Israel since 2010 were valued at £42 million ($70 million). The revelation came three weeks after Israel had commenced its massive assault on Gaza.

Yet another review was then announced, again with the proviso that Israel has a “legitimate right to self-defense.”

Former foreign office minister Sayeeda Warsi argued that arms exports to Israel “must stop.” Last week, Warsi resigned from the government in protest over Britain’s approach to the attack on Gaza, describing it as “morally indefensible.”

Furthermore, when Cable announced the possible suspension of licenses he echoed Israel’s claims that its bombing of hospitals and schools in Gaza was an act of defense, stating, “the vast majority of exports currently licensed for Israel are not for items that could be used by Israeli forces in operations in Gaza in response to attacks by Hamas.”

CAAT has documented that UK companies or companies with UK factories have provided the Israeli military with equipment for drones, armored tanks, targeting systems and ammunition — in other words helped equip Israel’s arsenal that has killed almost 2,000 Palestinians in one month.

Israel has been named by Britain as one of 27 countries with human rights concerns to which the UK nevertheless exports arms equipment. Israel is by far the largest recipient of those countries, netting nearly £8 billion ($13.3 billion) from a total of 470 export licenses, as of 14 July 2014, when a parliamentary committee published its “scrutiny of arms export and arms control” report.

This is, notably, a 23 percent rise from the previous year. Last year, the government stated that it was “satisfied that none of the currently extant licences for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories contravenes its policy [for arms exports]” while acknowledging that “circumstances can and do rapidly change, leading to a reassessment of risk and, in some cases, a different decision using the same criteria.”

Since 2000, the UK has had a standing policy that it would not export arms that would be used in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, despite the difficulty in discerning which arms were used against Palestinians. That policy didn’t prevent the export of arms to Israel: in 2002, CAAT reported that between 2000 and 2001, arms exports to Israel from the UK nearly doubled, from £12.5 million ($20.8 million) to £22.5 million ($37.5 million).

“Destined for Israel”

In July 2002, the UK government introduced new guidelines that allowed it to circumvent these export restrictions to Israel, and sell components to the US that were then used in F-16 warplanes headed for Israel. While this policy was contested by many members of parliament, it has remained in force.

In April 2009, David Miliband, then foreign secretary, stated that the UK “almost certainly” provided components for F-16 jets and Apache helicopters that were sold first to the United States on aircrafts “destined for Israel.”

Government representatives have explained that all arms licenses are considered on a case-by-case basis. But it would seem that the UK is following a pattern of arming first and only revoking the license after Israel has laid waste to Palestinian lives.

In the summer of last year, the UK announced that, after “careful consideration,” it would export a Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Israel.

On 30 July 2013, Vince Cable stated that Israel was expected to take delivery of its first aircraft in 2016. “At this time we do not believe there is a clear risk that the JSF would be used for internal repression, would aggravate existing internal tensions or conflict, or be used aggressively against another state,” he added.

With such reluctance on the part of the UK to withhold its contributions to Israel’s massive arsenal and such willingness to believe in Israel’s virtue, how many more “lessons” will the UK need to understand what Israel does with its weapons.

Hundreds of thousands set to participate in International Day of Rage for Gaza

Sat, 09/08/2014 - 9:13am

- Spain announces “provisional” suspension of military exports to Israel and Evo Morales backs BDS
- Pressure grows for military embargo and sanctions

Follow #GazaDayofRage for updates

Hundreds of thousands of people will take to the streets today to demand boycotts and sanctions against Israel as part of an international day of rage initiated by organisations in Gaza.

As Israel recalls its reserves and threatens to re-intensify its assault on Gaza that has so far killed more than 1,900 Palestinians, scores of demonstrations across the world from Johannesburg to Delhi will raise demands for a full military embargo on Israel and in support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has announced that it will take part in demonstrations across South Africa as part of the day of rage.

Thousands of people are expected to join a protest outside the White House to demand an end to US military aid to Israel.

Organisers of a mass rally in London have said they expect it to be the largest ever demonstration in support of Palestine in the UK.

“Today’s huge mobilisations show that the people of the world stand united in support of the rights of Palestinian people and against international complicity with Israel’s on-going massacre of Palestinians in Gaza,” said Dr Haidar Eid, a steering committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel who lives in Gaza.

“Governments across the world must act in line with the will of their people and take action to hold Israel to account, including by imposing sanctions and a military embargo on Israel,” Dr Eid added.

The mobilisations come as pressure mounts for western governments to impose a military embargo on Israel.

On August 4, the Spanish government announced that it was “provisionally” suspending all arms sales to Israel. The campaign for a military embargo has been a major focus of Palestine solidarity groups, trade unions and social movements across Spain, where  government and private sector have developed deep military cooperation with Israel.

In the UK, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has called for action against arms sales to Israel, causing splits in the coalition government there.

UK campaigners occupied and closed an arms factory near Birmingham that is owned by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems for two days to protest the role the factory plays in supplying engines for drones used by the Israeli military.

Bolivian president Evo Morales has publically backed BDS, following on from the withdrawal of ambassadors to Israel by five Latin American states and the suspension of negotiations on a free trade agreement by the government of Chile.

More than 60,000 people have signed a petition calling for a military embargo on Israel that was launched last month by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and 5 other Nobel laureates.

“Israel’s ability to unleash its military might on Palestinians in Gaza is dependent on the huge military trade and cooperation it maintains with states around the world. As fresh evidence emerges that Israel has been deliberately targeting civilians, it is time for governments to end their material support for Israeli war crimes,” said Mohsen Abu-Ramadan from the Palestinian NGO Network in Gaza.

People across the world are expressing anger and a strong resolve to make Israel pay for its crimes through the BDS movement.

Evo Morales endorses BDS, calls Israel a terrorist state

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 3:03pm

The following statement from the Network in Defense of Humanity (REDH) in Bolivia is a translation of the original from http://www.nuestra-america.it/index.php/it/espanol/bolivia/item/998-appello-internazionale-primo-firmatario-presidente-della-bolivia-evo-morales.

In Defence of Palestine

The Network in Defense of Humanity (REDH), before the tragic events being experienced by our Palestinian brothers in Gaza, performs its duty in stating the following:

We declare our adherence to the words of comrade Evo Morales, founder of the Network in Defense of Humanity and President of the Pluri-national State of Bolivia, which declare Israel as a terrorist state.

We express our absolute condemnation of the genocide suffered by the Palestinian people at the hands of a state founded upon the dispossession and colonial occupation of Palestinian territories.

We acknowledge and express our solidarity with the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people and their resistance organizations, especially in Gaza, against Israel’s attempt to exterminate [them] and snatch the remaining shreds of what was their homeland.

We condemn the imperialist United States’ (U.S.) role that feeds and supports politically, financially and militarily the State of Israel, as we condemn the unusual inaction of the UN Security Council whose resolutions regarding the Palestinian issue are systematically violated with impunity by Washington. The U.S. has been acting throughout its history with hypocrisy and cynicism, threatening by sanctions and interventions the peoples of Latin America, Africa and Eurasia that defend their sovereignty, while supporting Israel’s action’s.

We condemn the complicity in these events [in Gaza], by default in some cases, the governments of the European Union and the unconditional subordination of the media oligopolies to the dictates of Washington. Enough calling it war! It is genocide being perpetrated by one of the best equipped armies in the world against a people whose defensive resources are infinitely inferior in number and quality!

We encourage joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the terrorist state of Israel. It is time for active and creative solidarity, beyond expressions of condemnation. We have failed the over 1600 people killed in Palestine in the recent weeks, as well as the more than 9,000 injured since the terrorist [Israeli] operation started and hypocritically called “Protective Edge”.

We demand the end of the [Israeli] apartheid and genocide, as well as the walls and settlements. We call on the governments of the world to demand that Israel complies with the resolutions of the UN Security Council and be forced to withdraw from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, to return to the borders prior to the “Six Day War” (1967) and to ensure the return of Palestinian refugees, as was established by Security Council Resolution No. 242 of November 22, 1967, a resolution unfulfilled until today by the State of Israel.

We stand for a real political solution to the conflict in Palestine on the basis of dialogue, negotiation and the existence of two states with equal rights and internationally recognized borders; a solution that includes the immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the release of all Palestinian political prisoners. We welcome the supportive stance of the governments of ALBA, MERCOSUR and other governments around the South against the barbaric Israeli conduct in Gaza.

Inspired by the revolutionary words of Nelson Mandela: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestine,” we assert that Israel has morally and politically lost this battle against the courageous Palestinian people and that it deserves the growing condemnation of the peoples of the world as a “pariah” state that violates international law. The indomitable Palestinian resistance will be rewarded sooner or later in the smile of their children in a free country.

Against Israeli terrorism and U.S. imperialism, in defence of Palestinian right to self-determination and of all peoples in the world!

PRIMI FIRMATARI (Primary Signatories)

Evo Morales

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Premio Nobel de la Paz

István Meszáros, Filósofo. Premio Libertador al Pensamiento Crítico 2008.

Franz Hinkelammert, Filósofo. Premio Libertador al Pensamiento Crítico 2005.

Enrique Dussel. Filósofo. Premio Libertador al Pensamiento Crítico 2009.

Atilio Boron. Sociólogo. Premio Libertador al Pensamiento Crítico 2012.

Marta Harnecker. Premio Libertador al Pensamiento Crítico 2013.

Luciano Vasapollo – universidad roma sapienza , premio pensamiento critico 2007

Pablo González Casanova. Filósofo.

Piedad Córdoba. Ex – Senadora. Luchadora Social. Colombia.

Patricia Villegas. Presidenta de Telesur

Stella Calloni, Periodista

Rita  Martufi  representante permanente ante la FAO  unión sindical de base y  FSM

Eva Golinger , Periodista

Roy Chaderton Matos, Embajador de Venezuela ante la OEA

Farruco Sesto, Ex -Ministro de Cultura de Venezuela

Theotonio Dos Santos, Economista

Mónica Bruckman, Socióloga. Asesora de la Secretaría General de UNASUR

Michael Lebotwiz, Economista

Win Dieckersen

Omar González

Carmen Bohórquez. Filósofa, Historiadora. Premio Nacional de Humanidades.

Ángel Guerra

Hugo Moldiz

Katu Arkonada

Lidia Fagale, Secretaria General de la Unión de Periodistas de Buenos Aires

Joaquín Arriola – Universidad País Vasco

Galarza – Universidad publica de Navarra

Joan Tafalla – historiador, centro Espai Marx

 

What’s behind the rise of BDS?

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 2:58pm

In its nine-year existence, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement has boldly redefined the battle for Palestine in the simple, straightforward terms of human rights. More than any other tactic of the Palestinian liberation movement, the BDS campaign has succeeded in creating a global outpouring of support for Palestinian rights and placed Israel’s violations of them under international scrutiny like never before.
In the United States, the issue of Palestinian rights has gone from the margins of the Left and Arab and Muslim communities into mainstream discourse and debate. From the corporate media to academic institutions, the discussion of Israel-Palestine has veered away from obscure territorial claims and competing historical narratives, however important those may be, to focus on the three simple demands of the BDS movement. Israel must do the following:

End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall; Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and Respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated in UN resolution 194. [1] The 2005 BDS call that emerged from 170 Palestinian civil society groups—including all political parties, unions, refugee networks, NGOs, and organizations representing Palestinians living under occupation, in Israel, and in exile—took its inspiration from the successful South African anti-apartheid movement. Initiators were encouraged by the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance that was organized by Unesco in Durban, South Africa, at which a draft statement opposed “movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas, in particular the Zionist movement, which is based on racial superiority.” [2] In 2003, Palestinian academics started by calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and a year later they launched the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in Ramallah calling upon Palestinian academics and intellectuals to join the growing international boycott movement. [3] Out of this, a national committee was established that brought together Palestinian civil society groups who agreed to the above three demands, and they launched the BDS movement.

The internationalism that undergirds BDS is a departure from the thinking that dominated Palestinian political leadership circles for decades, which perceived the liberation of Palestine as coming through the mobilization of Palestinians alone. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) formed in 1964 and was influenced by the successful anticolonial struggles of that era, especially the guerrilla movement that kicked the French out of Algeria in its war for independence. Though PLO membership was mostly drawn from the impoverished sections of Palestinian society, its leadership was almost entirely comprised of wealthy businessmen and others from the ranks of the Palestinian elite. PLO leaders tried to graft a guerrilla warfare strategy that they’d seen work in Algeria on a population that was much smaller and dispersed throughout the Middle East and beyond. The financing for this armed strategy came from Arab rulers whom wealthy PLO leaders saw as their natural allies, including King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Jordan’s King Hussein, and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.

In exchange for arms and money, the PLO under the leadership of Yasser Arafat agreed to a noninterference policy in the domestic affairs of Arab states. As Philip Marfleet and Tom Hickey explain in the British journal International Socialism, “They acted in effect as a bourgeoisie without a state, confining their ‘own’ population to a strictly nationalist agenda. This was congenial to the kings, emirs and presidents of the region, who used formal backing for the PLO as part of a chorus of rhetorical opposition to Israel, the better to maintain their own privilege.” [4]

This approach was politically and economically disastrous. Not only were Palestinians easily defeated militarily within Israel, but the vast numbers of Palestinians working in Arab states were abandoned by the PLO to the low wages and absence of rights that constituted working conditions in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and elsewhere.

The first intifada in 1987 and the second one starting in 2000 were inspiring uprisings of resistance on the part of Palestinians in response to the rapid growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza following Israel’s occupation of those territories in 1967. Arab workers in the region initiated work stoppages and other acts of solidarity with the first intifada, but were actively opposed by Arafat and the PLO leadership. When textile workers at Egypt’s Mahalla al-Kubra factory launched strikes and other actions that spread to Cairo and Alexandria, they were threatened with violence by Interior Minister Zaki Badr: “I will sever any foot that attempts to march in demonstrations,” he warned. [5] Instead of embracing workers’ solidarity, Arafat and the PLO leadership discouraged these actions and joined Arab rulers in Algiers at a summit that committed $330 million to the PLO. [6] The PLO’s further collusion with Arab leaders and ultimately the governments of Israel and the United States in the 1993 Oslo Accords has only led to the spread of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, the establishment of the apartheid wall, and even worse conditions of life for Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

A new Palestinian generation raised on the legacy of this failed strategy has taken over the reins. This article examines three of the key developments that have fueled the rise of BDS in the United States. Though by no means an exhaustive list, these three causes have been essential to the ideological and organizational shifts that have taken place in a relatively short time.

The success of BDS in the United States is largely due to:

Unprecedented exposure of Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians, especially of Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008–09 and the 2010 massacre of nine unarmed civilians aboard a humanitarian aid vessel in international waters, the Mavi Marmara. The leadership of what may be called Generation Palestine [7], mostly young Arab-Americans and Muslims, but also many young Jews and others, who came of age in the atmosphere of heightened Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism in the post–9/11 United States. The application of methods used in the successful South African anti-apartheid movement that spread to US campuses and reached a crescendo in the 1980s. Arguably, each of these developments discussed below is a result of and leads to many more, but these appear to be three key catalysts in the rising US BDS movement.

Israel against itself

Leading figures of Israel along with international defenders of Zionism claim the BDS movement is “delegitimizing” Israel, that is threatening Israel’s authority and prestige. Global polls warrant their concern: Israel’s daily Ha’aretz reported in May 2013 that of the more than 26,000 people surveyed by the BBC in twenty-five countries around the world, only 21 percent of participants had a positive view of Israel, while 52 percent viewed the country unfavorably. [8]

But a more accurate explanation of the dramatic shift in international public opinion against the self-proclaimed “Jewish state” is that Israel’s own horrific acts are helping to create a growing movement that shines a light on Israel’s inhumane treatment of Palestinians, and more and more people are repelled by what they see. Israel’s delegitimization is, in fact, self-inflicted; the BDS movement merely acts to display, amplify, and oppose Israel’s crimes.

Let us be clear: Israel’s human rights violations are not new. Israel is and always has been a colonial occupier of Palestinian land, and its birth pangs include the ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 Palestinians in 1948. Karl Marx’s picturesque description of capitalism’s roots seems to apply equally well of Israel’s, which also came into the world “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” [9] Many previous articles in this journal have detailed this history and taken up the myths of Zionism and Israel’s ongoing crimes against Palestinians. But this history and the ongoing repression of Palestinians living in both the Occupied Territories and inside Israel were publicly denied and ignored until recent years, especially in the United States. Today, the denial by Israel’s defenders persists, but the inhumane treatment of Palestinians can no longer be ignored.

A key turning point in consciousness about Israel-Palestine that helped shift BDS into higher gear was Operation Cast Lead. For three weeks in the winter of 2008–09, Israel used one of the most deadly military arsenals in the world on Gaza, leaving 1,400 or more Palestinians dead (thirteen Israelis died, nine of them soldiers), and the surviving population of 1.5 million was left trapped behind walls of concrete and high-tech surveillance equipment. The Gaza massacre, code-named Operation Cast Lead, was followed by the reimposition of Israel’s cruel war of immiseration that prevents the free flow of goods, services, and human beings in and out of Gaza—a siege that remains in place to this day.

Launched midday when Gaza’s children were leaving school, a police academy graduation ceremony was getting under way, and streets were filled with shoppers, Israel’s attack was calculated to do maximum damage to humans and infrastructure. On just the first day, Israel killed more than 200 Palestinians and left 700 injured; after that, Israeli forces destroyed water- and sewage-treatment systems, bombed al Quds hospital, blew up stockpiles of UN food and supplies, and universities, schools, and mosques were wiped off the map in densely packed Gaza City.

Even then, vulgar apologists for Israel were aghast at the potential ideological cost of the massacre. A senior correspondent for Israel’s newspaper of record, Ha’aretz, Ari Shavit, complained the scale of the attack was “destroying [Israel’s] soul and its image. Destroying it on world television screens, in the living rooms of the international community and most importantly, in Obama’s America.” Shavit noted that Israel’s shelling of a UN facility on the same day the UN secretary was visiting Jerusalem was “beyond lunacy.” [10] He had a good point.

Over the years, Israel has launched innumerable military assaults on the Palestinian people. Overwhelming, no-holds-barred violence marks many of these assaults, like the Battle of Jenin in 2002, when 150 Israeli tanks, plus armored personnel carriers and artillery, backed by F-16 fighter jets, laid siege to a refugee camp of less than a square mile that is home to 15,000 people. [11] But with the spread of social media like Facebook and Twitter in the hands of the budding movement, the 2008–09 war on Gaza drew alarm from Americans who’d not previously been particularly sympathetic or even aware of the conditions in Gaza. Across the United States, thousands took to the streets in protest and attended educational events held by small BDS community groups and the growing number of campus chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). [12] Activists posted and tweeted images of the deadly attacks, and people were shocked to see pictures of Israeli settlers relaxing over food and wine in beach chairs on a hilltop overlooking Gaza, cheering the bombings and sniper hits as if enjoying an afternoon at a soccer match or a concert.

In the United States, saturated with pro-Israel messages, it is important to note that in the immediate wake of the siege, only 44 percent of Americans supported the assault, versus 41 percent who opposed it, according to Rasmussen. [13] Ordinary Democrats—unlike their party’s leadership—were appalled; only 31 percent could muster any enthusiasm for the assault.

The next major turning point came over the Memorial Day Weekend of 2010. The lead ship of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, was attempting to break the siege and bring humanitarian aid to Gazans suffering without medicine and sufficient food, but instead was militarily attacked in the middle of the night in international waters. Kevin Ovenden, one of the flotilla organizers aboard the Mavi Marmara, described Israel’s horrifying commando-style attack by air and sea that murdered nine unarmed civilians: “A new phase of struggle is born, but at a terrible, almost unbearable price: Nine of our brothers taken from us, scores more wounded by gunshots, their blood now lapping on the shores of Gaza.” [14]

Palestine solidarity activists swung into action and organized protests, speakouts, and educational events with those who’d been aboard the ship describing the horror of suddenly being the target of unprovoked gunfire, exposing Israel’s justifications for what they were: lies. Journalist Glenn Greenwald added his voice to the movement and spoke before packed crowds at universities. Within a few months, Frank Gehry, considered the world’s most influential architect, joined the boycott of Israeli settlement goods after refusing to design Jerusalem’s Museum of Tolerance, planned for construction on top of a Muslim cemetery. Along with pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, Gehry added his name to the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) statement of 200 Jewish artists and cultural workers supporting the boycott of Israeli settlement goods. [15]

While US polls continue to show clear majorities in favor of Israel over Palestine—hardly surprising given the inundation of pro-Israel propaganda in the US media despite recent cracks—nobody, from veteran Palestine solidarity activists to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, denies the growing sympathy with Palestinians and suspicion of Israel’s human rights violations. At the 2014 conference of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), unquestionably the most influential pro-Israel group in the United States, speakers from Secretary of State John Kerry to Netanyahu felt the urgency to deride BDS. In his keynote address to AIPAC, Netanyahu mentioned BDS no fewer than eighteen times. To rousing cheers, Netanyahu called on Zionists to “fight back” against boycott advocates, “to delegitimize the delegitimizers.” [16] Many BDS activists rightly took this to be a form of distorted respect from an enemy that previously ignored the movement’s existence. Now that Israel is becoming a global pariah, the BDS movement is garnering greater attention from all sides.

Generation Palestine takes the reins

How Does it Feel to be a Problem? asked Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi in the title of his 2009 book of interviews with Arab-American youth growing up in post–9/11 Brooklyn. The book explores a central life experience in this country for many Arab and Muslim Americans who’ve come to know the feelings of being targeted and suspected of terrorism for no other reason than their appearance or ethnic-religious background. For many, the US government’s dragnet and society’s stigma have had the desired silencing effect. But for a rising minority of Arabs and Muslims who’ve taken the reins of the BDS movement in the United States, defiance of Israel’s human rights violations—and institutions collaborating with them—has become the civil rights struggle of their generation. Call it, if you will, Generation Palestine.

If the liberation of the oppressed is inconceivable without their self­activity, as Marxists have always claimed, this development is a crucial one. The movement itself, of course, was initiated by Palestinians living under occupation and in the diaspora, and the growing participation and leadership of Arab and Muslim Americans in the movement is undeniable to even the casual observer.

Remi Kenazi, the popular and talented Palestinian-American poet, moved to New York City just four months before 9/11. Growing up in mostly white Western Massachusetts had conditioned Remi to certain racist experiences, but he recounts in a Jadaliyya podcast interview that the nasty atmosphere against Arabs and Muslims right after the attacks helped propel him toward his poetry writing and spoken word performance career. [17] As a member of Adalah-NY, the BDS group, and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), Remi creatively expresses the outrage, hopes, and political vision of a radicalizing generation. In addition to live shows, he’s become a BDS cultural hero in his videos “Normalize This” and his latest sendup of campus Zionists, “This Divestment Bill Hurts My Feelings,” a collaborative effort with Suhel Nafar, director, animator, and co-founder of the massively popular Palestinian hip hop group DAM whose music has become the soundtrack of the movement.

In email responses to my question about what inspired some leading Arab and Muslim BDS student activists, certain themes reappear in their accounts of their own politicization. They include early Iraq War images that stoked humiliation at the debased treatment of people in the Arab World, like photos of torture in the Abu Ghraib prison, but also terrifying snapshots of their childhood contemporaries in Palestine suffering at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). In 2000, the widely broadcast one-minute film footage of twelve-year-old Muhammad al-Durrah shows a cowering young boy crouched against a wall by his father’s side as IDF soldiers shoot all around them until the camera captures the murder of small Muhammad and the heart-wrenching grief of his father, unable to shield him from harm. Many university student activists today would have been about Muhammad’s age when he was killed. Added to those images from abroad are the daily racist indignities experienced here in the States, yet another source of both shame and defiance.

The embryonic BDS movement created a magnet for some of them, and a means to express their rage and mobilize their peers into action. One young Yemeni Boston student, Sofia Arias, writes, “But it was Operation Cast Lead in 2008–09, and my rejection of the two state solution, that pushed me to organize around BDS at my university, and the urgency of an international movement in solidarity that got activated out of that. And after that, in the US, you could feel things shift, and you could see the cracks in Israel’s pristine image begin to show.” [18]

Tareq Radi, a Palestinian-American student at George Mason University, explains his motivation for getting involved in organized political activity this way:

Before I began organizing, I used to be a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor, which required me to travel and frequent other training facilities. In December of 2012, I was invited to a gym that had an Israeli flag overlooking the area where I would be training. I respectively declined the invitation and explained that 42 members of my family were massacred in the name of that flag. To my surprise the owner of the gym, who was Jewish, offered to take it down. Later that evening I received a complaint from my coach, a person I considered as a brother. He demanded that I keep politics separate from my athletic career. It was at this point that I realized wearing a Palestinian flag on my uniform wasn’t enough. I needed to contribute to the liberation of my people to the fullest of my abilities. I want to create a space, not just for Palestinians, for all oppressed populations to thrive without sacrificing their identities. [19]

Similarly, Palestinian-American Wael Elasady at Portland State began to see the battle for Palestine as much closer to home through the complicity of American institutions. He asked himself: “Why are universities bringing war criminals to give speeches? Why do they continue to normalize a racist apartheid state by setting up study abroad programs in Israel? Why are student tuition dollars invested in companies profiting off human rights violations of the Palestinian people? Why are our university presidents condemning professors who teach the truth about Palestine?” [20]

The 2011 SJP conference held at Columbia University during the height of Occupy Wall Street in October drew several hundred students, a majority of them Arab and Muslim. In addition to strategic discussions about launching campus-based boycott campaigns, students debated the Arab revolutions, the role of US imperialism, and the history of Israel-Palestine. The Sunday morning after hundreds of SJPers had joined nearly 100,000 New Yorkers at an impromptu Occupy gathering in Times Square, classrooms were full with students eager to continue the discussions. As a speaker that morning on the myths of Zionism, I’d expected that most students would either sleep in after a heady night of activism out on the town or head back to their own campuses early. Instead, the room was packed, standing-room-only, and many grilled me on an impressive range of issues well past the end of the session. Dozens left the room with a newly purchased copy of Omar Barghouti’s book, BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, without a doubt, the primer of the movement.

BDS student activists’ political evolution was even more apparent at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in 2012, an international people’s tribunal that came to New York City to place the United Nations and US government on trial for its complicity with Israel’s internationally recognized human rights violations. [21] For a frenzied six weeks, dozens of mostly Arab and Muslim students throughout the city volunteered to help organize and promote the event, which featured, among others, Black Power leader Angela Davis, author Alice Walker, and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters as judges. These student activists, who’d been organizing BDS on their campuses, worked tirelessly to build a hugely successful tribunal that drew more than a thousand people each day to watch and listen to the proceedings at Cooper Union’s storied Great Hall, the venue where Frederick Douglass read out the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

Also noteworthy is the shift taking place among American Jews, especially those under thirty, some of whom are joining and playing leading roles in the BDS struggle. In a well-publicized New York Review of Books article, [22] Peter Beinart wrote, “For several decades, the Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door, and now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead.” And there is Time magazine’s piece on “Why Fewer Young American Jews Share Their Parents’ View of Israel,” which cites these stats:

A 2007 poll by Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College and Ari Kelman of the University of California at Davis found that although the majority of American Jews of all ages continue to identify as “pro-Israel,” those under 35 are less likely to identify as “Zionist.” Over 40% of American Jews under 35 believe that “Israel occupies land belonging to someone else,” and over 30% report sometimes feeling “ashamed” of Israel’s actions. [23]

Those who have been speaking on college campuses about Israel-Palestine for years perceive a striking shift. In the nineties and earlier, the announcement of a public forum even mildly critical of Israel garnered death threats from the Jewish Defense League or similar groups, universities often required metal detectors and guards at our talks, and we were frequently disrupted by large numbers of confident Zionist students. In one memorable episode at NYU, the campus Zionists marched in flying an Israeli flag and singing Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva, as this author rose to speak. At Harvard during the Gulf War of 1991, students stood and threateningly jeered that I was an “anti-Semite” for criticizing Israel and only backed down when the iconic historian Howard Zinn stood and announced that we were both Jews who refuse to be silenced by a mob. Large groups of swaggering Zionists attempting to intimidate isolated handfuls of Palestine solidarity activists are far less frequent nowadays, though their turn to administrative bullying and legal sanctions is a mark of both their grass-roots weakness and the institutional ties Zionists are strengthening to fight a war on campus BDS, detailed in Ali Abunimah’s new book, The Battle for Justice in Palestine.

In 2013, the efforts of groups like USACBI brought the question of Palestinian human rights smack into the center of academia. In just a few months, three North American academic organizations voted to boycott Israeli universities: the Association of Asian American Studies was first, passing a resolution last spring, then the American Studies Association, and soon after the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. SJP chapters swung into action to defend their professors from the predictable wave of attacks. But the controversy, now reaching the halls of state legislatures, brought the BDS movement even deeper into the mainstream media—the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Times all carried op-ed pieces in support of the boycott of Israeli universities. It was unprecedented.

The first cracks in the campus bastions of pro-Israel organizing deepened in the winter of 2013–14 as “Open Hillels” formed at Swarthmore and Vassar declaring their intention to work with BDS and other pro-Palestine groups, in open defiance of the Hillels’ mission. Today, the role of JVP in promoting and organizing BDS campaigns against pension giant TIAA-CREF, home carbonation device manufacturer SodaStream, and others has been invaluable. Though as a group JVP focuses only on companies operating in the territories occupied since 1967—not the whole of Israel, as the BDS call targets—JVP has opened itself up to debates about the broader boycott and the question of whether a Jewish state can be defended at all. Many of its members are anti-Zionists, others are more equivocal on that question and just oppose the 1967 occupation. Yet in a movement where charges of “anti-Semitism” are hurled at any criticisms of Israel, having a prominent Jewish organization that connects well over 100,000 Jewish-identified activists is an undeniable advantage in challenging these spurious claims.

Smaller initiatives such as the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) have joined with American Muslims for Palestine to organize events such as a “Never Again for Anyone” speaking tour with Holocaust survivors speaking alongside Palestinian victims of dispossession advocating BDS. IJAN has spawned Facebook groups like Jews for the Palestinian Right of Return that put out statements signed by thousands to help amplify the voices of Jews who reject the logic of an ethnically cleansed Jewish state and instead advocate democratic rights for all Palestinians and Jews in one secular state.

Though BDS activists’ early attempts to win university resolutions to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies were often met with setbacks, the movement has grown more sophisticated. The April 2013 University of California–Berkeley divestment debate and vote expressed the profound distance Generation Palestine has come. For an unprecedented ten hours, speaker after speaker, students of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, rose and made eloquent cases for divestment, and the resolution passed. The confidence with which students advocated divestment showed that the BDS movement was transforming campus political culture in many places. BDS activists are beginning to make the question of Palestinian human rights as central to this generation as the issue of the Spanish Civil War was in the thirties or the South African anti-apartheid struggle was in the eighties.

In response to the campus BDS movement’s meteoric rise, Zionists have launched a well-funded and multi-pronged attack. The Israel Action Network began in 2010 with a $6 million budget with tentacles in more than 400 communities to “serve as a rapid response team charged with countering the growing campaign.” [24] Campus groups have looked to the newly formed Palestine Solidarity Legal Support for help in countering institutional attempts to shut down, silence, and even legally prosecute SJP activists for their Palestine advocacy. The counterattacks from Zionists are raising larger questions among activists about the need for more formal decision-making structures in the national movement, centralization, and political questions about how to best challenge these attempts to discredit their actions. National days of action are now on the agenda for many.

As in other movements, BDS activists are influenced by the wider currents in the US Left, though the active collaboration with Israel’s government by leading Democrats, including President Obama, creates a robust debate about how and whether to get involved in electoral politics. Most activists are extremely critical of the Democrats, though few have formally concluded that independence from them is key.

“Palestine’s South Africa moment”

It is no coincidence that many of the BDS movement’s founders and leaders came of age during the victorious final years of the South African anti-apartheid movement. Omar Barghouti, a founding member of BDS and author of BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, was an international student at Columbia University in the eighties, the site of one of the most tumultuous campus occupations in the US divestment battle. That generation cut its political teeth in the solidarity movement’s final decade, witnessing the victory of Black South African workers against apartheid. Barghouti often refers to the meteoric rise of BDS as “Palestine’s South Africa moment.” The analogy with South Africa is not rhetorical; it is a conscious acknowledgement of the historical and political links between the two apartheid systems and a reference to the methods being employed to bring down the world’s last apartheid state.

The word “apartheid” is Afrikaans for “apartness” or “separate.” In 1948—the same year Israel was established as a state—apartheid became the official policy of the white South African government, referring to the laws, policies, and practices established by that government to maintain the supremacy of the white minority over the non-white majority. In 1973, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, [25] defining apartheid as a crime against humanity, not specific to South Africa. The crime of apartheid is defined by “inhuman acts” committed with the purpose of imposing racial segregation and discrimination on a targeted group, and establishing domination of one group over another. The Convention specifically prohibits acts “designed to divide the population . . . by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages . . . the expropriation of landed property.” The Convention also prohibits measures that deprive people and organizations of their basic human rights, including the right to work and education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence.

This describes Israel’s political and legal character perfectly. All of these rights are denied Palestinians. Americans know of this kind of formal racial segregation—it was the legal policy of the American South from the late nineteenth century until the 1960s, known as Jim Crow. Though one will never see signs in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem that read: “Jews only” or “Palestinians only,” make no mistake about it: Israel is a Jim Crow state. Israel is an apartheid state, though the workings of the two states’ apartheid systems are different in many regards. As Israeli-born socialist Moshé Machover has put it, they are of the same genus but different species. In South Africa, apartheid operated to repress, control, and hyperexploit the indigenous Black population, whereas in Israel apartheid is used to cleanse the nation of its native population.

There is another crucial difference. In South Africa where the overwhelming majority of the population under apartheid was made up of Black workers, their power was capable of landing the deathblow to apartheid. The same cannot be said of Palestine, where the population is not only small but also increasingly disenfranchised. In the case of Palestine, international solidarity from the BDS movement today, and, ultimately, labor actions by workers of the region and beyond, will be decisive in winning Palestinian struggles. Nonetheless, the apartheid analogy applies.

Racial discrimination against the Palestinian people was formalized and institutionalized through the creation by law of a “Jewish nationality,” which is distinct from Israeli citizenship. No “Israeli” nationality exists in Israel, and their Supreme Court has persistently refused to recognize one as it would end the system of Jewish supremacy in Israel. The 1950 Law of Return entitles all Jews—and only Jews—to the rights of nationals, namely the right to enter “Eretz Yisrael” (Israel and the Occupied Territories) and immediately enjoy full legal and political rights. “Jewish nationality” under the Law of Return is extraterritorial in contravention of international public law norms pertaining to nationality. It includes Jewish citizens of other countries, irrespective of whether they wish to be part of the collective of “Jewish nationals,” and excludes “non-Jews” (i.e., Palestinians) from nationality rights in Israel. Under Israeli law the status of Jewish nationality is accompanied with first-class rights and benefits, which are not granted to Palestinian citizens.

The South African anti-apartheid movement was formally launched in Britain in 1959 as a boycott movement. By the early sixties, the United Nations imposed a partial arms ban; in 1964, South Africa was suspended from participating in the Olympics and banned outright in 1970; the divestment and sanctions movement, however, didn’t take off internationally for many years. In 1994, the formal apartheid system was thoroughly dismantled and Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress came to power. Throughout South Africa’s apartheid years, Israeli leaders from Golda Meir in the 1940s through Yitzhak Rabin in 1994 were willing to look past the anti-Semitism of South Africa’s rulers—some with Nazi pasts—to do secretive arms and trade deals as well as police training with the apartheid state. [26]

The BDS movement unabashedly has taken a page from the successful playbook of the South African anti-apartheid movement. Like Israeli Jews today, the vast majority of South Africa’s white population opposed a democratic state and clung to their domination over the Black population until the bitter end. But the domestic resistance of Black South Africans combined with the pressure from the international anti-apartheid movement led to a total loss of legitimacy of the apartheid regime. Like today, some argued that the boycott would harm the very people the movement aimed to help. Yet then as now, the indigenous population was both the initiator and defender of the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions. Today, some of the same figures who led the South African movement are speaking out against Israel’s apartheid and advocating BDS.

“The same issues of inequality and injustice today motivate the divestment movement trying to end Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory and the unfair and prejudicial treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government ruling over them,” .” [27] argues South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu. South African anti-apartheid activists Suraya Dado and Muhammed Desai insist a debt of gratitude is owed: “It is our duty as South Africans to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people [28]

The fake shanty towns that college students set up on their campuses to portray the segregation and misery of life in South Africa’s Black slums has an echo in the mock checkpoints BDS activists set up to dramatize daily conditions for Palestinians trying to travel from home to work. The days-long teach-ins of the South African anti-apartheid movement have their match in the annual Israeli Apartheid Week, which celebrated its tenth year this winter. The phony apartheid passbooks identifying people by their race that students made in the eighties have their counterpart in the faux eviction notices passed under dormroom doors to educate students about what the IDF does before violently driving Palestinians from their homes. The examples are growing as an older generation shares its experiences with their young peers in the movement, and workshops on lessons from the South African anti-apartheid movement have become de rigueur at BDS conferences.

What is so striking about the BDS movement today is the rapidity with which it has made advances in just nine years. Not only is Israel becoming a pariah state in the eyes of growing numbers of people, but the financial losses are taking a greater toll sooner than activists had dared hope. Israel’s Maariv newspaper reports that at least $30 million have been lost so far due to BDS, mostly in the agricultural sector. .” [29] Top officials in Israel today call BDS Israel’s “greatest threat [30]

However, no state, and surely not this closest of US allies, would accept these blows without striking back. Abunimah, Blumenthal, and others have detailed the official and clandestine means by which Israel is trying to “delegitimize the delegitimizers.” From multimillion-dollar campaigns that “sabotage and attack” activists to propaganda attempts at promoting Israel’s limited LGBT rights (“pinkwashing”), Israel’s hasbara (propaganda) efforts are sleek, well-financed, and supported by figures throughout the US establishment. Legislators in New York, Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania have put forward bills that attempt to squash criticism of Israel on US campuses in the wake of the recent boycott resolutions. President Obama made sure to join the chorus against BDS at this year’s AIPAC conference.

Achieving the ultimate goals of the movement—ending the occupation and apartheid policies as well as allowing the right of return—remains far in the future and cannot be won by BDS alone. Though BDS is a magnificent tactic for winning sympathy and drawing activists into solidarity with Palestinians, even landing financial and ideological blows against Israel, it is ultimately a struggle for reforms within capitalism—an exploitative system that is part of an imperial order.

Socialists must support this rising movement, though not all do. At the very heart of socialist ideals lies international solidarity with the struggles of the oppressed, which BDS surely is. Yet some socialists argue that the movement is either not radical enough in its adherence to a human rights framework or must be opposed because it could hurt Palestinian and Israeli Jewish workers.

First and foremost, as a movement launched and led by Palestinians across the political spectrum—extraordinary in and of itself given the historic splits—BDS is an expression of the self-determination of the Palestinians. Its human rights-based framework uses international law to expose the hypocrisy of nations like the United States that claim adherence to such high-minded principles, yet defy them in their collusion with apartheid Israel.

Yet the reformist nature of BDS is not a reason for socialists to oppose it any more than other reform movements. Virtually all social and economic justice struggles, including unionization drives, would be shunned by socialists if that were the case. The movement’s limitations instead require socialists to raise broader anti-imperialist and internationalist class solidarity politics within the BDS movement, as members of the International Socialist Organization do as active participants in campus and community-based BDS groups. A strength of the current BDS movement is that conferences and educational events have begun to take up questions and debates about what has worked and failed so far in the revolutions of the Arab world these last years. However, it is a weakness of the movement so far that most groups become so immersed in day-to-day logistical planning that deeper political questions are often sidelined in the interests of expediency. It is a tension in every movement, but one that must be addressed if the ultimate aim of liberation is ever to be achieved. The emboldened global movement for BDS must be won to a clearer analysis of imperialism and the centrality of workers’ power, unlikely to happen without the active engagement of socialists inside the movement, developing the ties and political credibility to gain a wider hearing for these ideas as struggles in the Arab world place these questions front and center.

The challenge that BDS might hurt Palestinian workers echoes the arguments made against the South African anti-apartheid movement. Palestinian workers’ organizations, like Black workers’ unions in South Africa who supported anti-apartheid efforts, have signed onto the BDS call. So this argument flies in the face of what those presumably most affected are demanding of us. What’s more, the notion that Israeli workers might be hurt by BDS may be accurate, but concerns here are misplaced. Jewish Israeli workers, like those the world over, are exploited and oppressed by their own ruling class. But their overwhelming support for the ongoing displacement, occupation, and repression of Palestinians must be confronted, not accommodated. Overwhelming support for the occupation among Israeli Jews, including a whopping 90 percent support for the brutal siege of Gaza, [31] is further testament to the fact that the vast majority of Jewish workers in Israel have thrown their lot in with the Zionist state against Palestinians.

The handful of Jewish Israelis who defy Israel’s policies, most famously Ilan Pappé and Amira Haass, the activists in Boycott From Within, and other small pro-Palestine groups warrant our solidarity, but they are a stark exception to the rule. There is a much-needed update to the 1969 essay on the class character of Israeli society, [32] but the central features of the argument remain intact: the financial subsidization of Jewish Israeli society and the Praetorian Guard role Israel plays for the US Empire in the Middle East distort the “normal” class relations in that country. Until that dynamic is upended, Jewish Israeli workers are not going to break with Zionism en masse.

The focus of the international solidarity movement must therefore remain on those forces inside Palestine and internationally who are willing and able to act. The road to Palestinian liberation continues to run through the major industrial centers of the region where the potential of revolutionary victories led by the working class of the Arab world lies, from Cairo to Amman. But as the world has seen in these last years, this is likely to be a years-long process.

There have yet to be significant policy changes to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Israel. But the ideological tectonic plates beneath Israel’s support have shifted, and a new global human rights movement is on the rise. When Israeli officials speak of a “demographic threat” they usually mean the domestic Palestinian population. The BDS movement has shown that the real demographic threat to Israel’s stability is the rise of Generation Palestine.

Footnotes
[1] Omar Barghouti, BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2011), 6.

[2] THE RACISM WALKOUT; The Cause and the Effect: Two Excerpts, New York Times, September 4, 2001.

[3] For a history of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, see http://pacbi.org/index.php

[4] Tom Hickey and Philip Marfleet, “The ‘South Africa Moment’: Palestine, Israel and the boycott,” International Socialism issue 128, October 2010, http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id…

[5] Quoted in Ibid.

[6] Ibid

[7] The author would like to acknowledge Bill Mullen, professor of English and American Studies at Purdue, for introducing me to this term that is also the title of a 2013 book by Verso Press.

[8] “BBC poll: Israel among world’s least popular nations,” May 25, 2013, Ha’aretz, http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/b…

[9] Karl Marx, Capital Vol. I, Chap. 31, “Genesis of the industrial capitalist,”http://www.marxists.org/archive/mar…

[10] Cited in Noam Chomsky, “’Exterminate all the brutes,’” January 19, 2009, http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20…

[11] Arjan El Fassed, “Israel commits massacre in Jenin refugee camp,” April 7, 2002, http://electronicintifada.net/conte…

[12] Elizabeth Schulte, “Rallying in support of Gaza,” January 2, 2009, Socialist Worker.

[13] Cited in Glenn Greenwald, “More oddities in the U.S. ‘debate’ over Israel/Gaza,” January 2, 2009,http://www.salon.com/2009/01/02/isr…

[14] Kevin Ovenden, “A new phase of struggle is born,” June 28, 2010, Socialist Worker.

[15] Jesse Bacon, “Breaking: Architect Frank Gehry supports Israeli settlement boycott,” September 21, 2010,http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/blog…

[16] Philip Weiss, “Netanyahu mentions ‘BDS’ 18 times in denouncing movement and its ‘gullible fellow travelers,’” March 4, 2014, http://mondoweiss.net/2014/03/netan…

[17] Interview with Tareq Radi, “Poetry, Solidarity, and BDS: An Interview with Remi Kenazi, March 26, Jadaliyya,http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/inde…

[18] Sofia Arias, email to Sherry Wolf, March 24, 2014.

[19] Tareq Radi, email to Sherry Wolf, March 25, 2014.

[20] Wael Elasady, email to Sherry Wolf, March 24, 2014.

[21] The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, http://www.russelltribunalonpalesti…

[22] Peter Beinart, “The failure of the American-Jewish establishment,” June 10, 2010, New York Review of Books,http://www.nybooks.com/articles/arc…

[23] Dana Goldstein, “Why fewer young American Jews share their parents’ view of Israel,” September 29, 2011, Time,http://ideas.time.com/2011/09/29/wh…

[24] Quoted in Ali Abunimah, The Battle for Justice in Palestine (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2014), 128.

[25] John Dugard, “Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid,” November 30, 1973, [http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/cspca/cs...]

[26] Sasha Polakow-Suransky, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa (New York: Pantheon Books, 2010).

[27] Ali Abunimah, “South African church leaders endorse Israeli Apartheid Week,” March 10, 2014, Electronic Intifada,http://electronicintifada.net/blogs…

[28] http://lemuradesoreilles.org/2014/0…

[29] “BDS costs Israel 100 million shekels in losses,” Maariv, March 7, 2014, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/n…

[30] Ali Abunimah, “Israel is losing the fight against BDS,” Electronic Intifada, http://electronicintifada.net/blogs…

[31] Max Blumenthal, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (New York: Nation Books, 2013), 11.

[32] For an excellent article on this question that is a reprint of the 1969 essay, “The class character of Israeli society,” see Moshe Mochover and Akiva Orr, ISR 23, May–June 2002, http://www.isreview.org/issues/23/c…

 

http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3521

Gaza Calling: All out on Saturday 9 August Day of Rage

Tue, 05/08/2014 - 10:47pm

Aftermath of Israeli airstrike on Palestinian home in Gaza.

Gaza Calling: All out on Saturday 9 August Day of Rage

Join the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Movement today. Demand Sanctions on Israel Now.

As we face the full might of Israel’s military arsenal, funded and supplied by the United States and European Union, we call on civil society and people of conscience throughout the world to pressure governments to sanction Israel and implement a comprehensive arms embargo immediately.

Take to the streets on Saturday 9 August with a united demand for sanctions on Israel.

From Gaza under invasion, bombardment, and continuing siege, the horror is beyond words.  Medical supplies are exhausted. The death toll has reached 1813 killed (398 children, 207 women, 74 elderly) and 9370 injured (2744 children, 1750 women, 343 elderly). Our hospitals, ambulances, and medical staff are all under attack while on duty. Doctors and paramedics are being killed while evacuating the dead. Our dead are not numbers and statistics to be recounted; they are loved ones, family and friends.

While we have to survive this onslaught, you certainly have the power to help end it the same way you helped overcome Apartheid and other crimes against humanity. Israel is only able to carry out this attack with the unwavering support of governments – this support must end.

This is our third massacre in six years. When not being slaughtered, we remain under siege, an illegal collective punishment of the entire population. Fishermen are shot and killed if they stray beyond a 3 km limit imposed unilaterally by Israel. Farmers are shot harvesting their crops within a border area imposed unilaterally by Israel.  Gaza has become the largest open-air prison, a concentration camp since 2006. This time, we want an end to this unprecedented crime against humanity committed with the complicity and support of your own governments!

We are not asking for charity. We are demanding solidarity, because we know that until Israel is isolated and sanctioned, these horrors will be repeated.

Take action this Saturday

  1. Make boycotts, divestments and sanctions the main message at every protest around the world. Take banners and placards calling for sanction on Israel to every protest. Tweet them using the hashtag #GazaDayofRage. Email us your pictures and action details to GazaDayofRage@gmail.com.
  2. While news of all the mass protests outside Israel’s embassies around the world have given us hope, after weeks of protests, we urge you to intensify your actions. Occupy Israeli embassies, challenge Israeli officials (and others) supporting the current aggression against Gaza whenever they appear in public and stage sit-in in government buildings.
  3. Boycott all Israeli products and take action against corporations profiting from Israel’s system of colonialism, occupation and apartheid. March to boycott targets in your city and educate the public about companies complicit in Israel’s ongoing military assault and illegal siege of Gaza.
  4.  Palestinian trade unions are calling on our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement internationally to stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel. The trade union movement has a proud history of direct action against Apartheid in South Africa, the Congress of South African Trade Unions has joined us in the call for direct action to end Israel’s impunity.

From occupied and besieged Gaza

Signed by

Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions

General Union of Palestinian Women

University Teachers’ Association in Palestine

Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (Umbrella for 133 orgs)

Medical Democratic Assembly

General Union of Palestine Workers

General Union for Health Services Workers

General Union for Public Services Workers

General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers

General Union for Agricultural Workers

Union of Women’s Work Committees

Pal-Cinema (Palestine Cinema Forum)

Youth Herak Movement

Union of Women’s Struggle Committees

Union of Synergies—Women Unit

Union of Palestinian Women Committees

Women’s Studies Society

Working Woman’s Society

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

Gaza BDS Working Group

One Democratic State Group

Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions National Committee (BNC)

BNC includes: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), Palestinian National Institute for NGOs, Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition, Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS), Federation of Independent Trade Unions, General Union of Palestinian Workers, Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, General Union of Palestinian Women, Union of Palestinian Farmers, General Union of Palestinian Teachers, General Union of Palestinian Writers, Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), Union of Professional Associations, General Union of Palestinian Peasants, Union of Public Employees in Palestine-Civil Sector, Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW), National Committee for Grassroots Resistance, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba, Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, Coalition for Jerusalem, Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations, Palestinian Economic Monitor, Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps, Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Initiative

U.S. Should Stop Funding Israel, or Let Others Broker Peace

Tue, 05/08/2014 - 6:22pm

As Israel’s primary patron of economic, military and diplomatic support, the United States has a duty and the capacity to help resolve the Palestinian-Israel conflict. It should either comply with its domestic laws and cease military aid to Israel or simply step aside and allow international mechanisms to function without obstruction.

Ending aid will either restrain Israel and facilitate a political resolution or encourage a backlash that induces the global community to intervene.
Between 1949 and 2008, the U.S. has provided Israel with $103.6 billion, more than all of the foreign aid it has provided to Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America combined. Since 2000, it has provided Israel with $3.5 billion worth of F-16s and $77 billion in Apaches. Military aid to foreign states is subject to several U.S. laws including the Arms Export Control Act , the Foreign Assistance Act and the Leahy Law. Each of these laws conditions the receipt of aid on the furtherance of human rights.

The Department of State annually notes Israel’s systematic abuse of human rights against Palestinians. Congress has nevertheless renewed aid to Israel without scrutiny either by willful ignorance or disregard. In the eyes of our 535 elected representatives, Israel can do no wrong.

This has not always been the case. The Reagan administration halted its cluster munitions sales to Israel between 1982 and 1988 in response to Israel’s disproportionate and indiscriminate attack on civilians in Beirut. In 1991, the George H.W. Bush administration conditioned its loan guarantees to Israel on the cessation of its settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The United States has ample evidence of Israel’s human rights violations that should trigger these laws today. In its most recent offensive, Israel has dropped over 100 one-ton bombs, hardly precise and discriminate weaponry, onto the densely populated and besieged Gaza Strip. Human Rights Watch documented Israeli ground forces shooting and killing fleeing Palestinian families in Khuza’a between July 23 and 25. Amnesty International documented the killing of 45 civilians in the Occupied West Bank over the past three years.

Cessation of American military aid to Israel will create at least two possibilities in the long run. On the one hand, it can restrain Israel, thereby creating more opportunities for a political resolution to the conflict. On the other hand, it could have the opposite effect and motivate Israel to pursue more maximalist policies, thereby increasing the cost of its transgressions. This will likely induce the international community to effectively intervene à la the South African model.

Short of complying with its own laws, the United States can also step aside and allow international mechanisms to function. The United States has incapacitated the U.N. Security Council by using its veto power to shield Israel from accountability 40 times between 1972 and 2011. The only other situation where the U.S. used its veto power so systematically was to protect colonial and apartheid regimes in South Africa, Rhodesia and Namibia. The United States has similarly undermined the efficacy of the International Court of Justice, the Human Rights Council and, as we are currently witnessing, the International Criminal Court.

The U.S. is a central part of the problem in the Palestinian-Israel conflict. To be a part of the solution, it needs to do less, not more.

Amnesty calls on US government to stop shipment of fuel to Israeli military

Mon, 04/08/2014 - 6:03pm

Amnesty International is appealing to the US government to immediately halt the transfer of a US fuel shipment currently on its way to Israel for use by the Israeli military. The organization has repeatedly called for a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the conflict, amidst mounting evidence that war crimes are being committed by both sides in the past four weeks in Gaza.

The US government has continued to supply hundreds of thousands of tons of fuel, including fuel for fighter jets and military vehicles, to Israel’s armed forces despite a soaring civilian death toll from aerial and other military attacks. The last US jet fuel delivery arrived in Israel on 14 July, a week after the conflict began. Nine previous shipments were made from the US to Israel during 2013 and 2014. A fuel tanker with the latest US fuel shipment is now sailing past the Azores and is due to arrive in Israel on 12 August.

“By continuing to supply fuel for military vehicles and fighter jets being used in attacks resulting in mounting civilian deaths and horrific injuries, the US government will have more blood on its hands,” said Brian Wood, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

“Instead of continuing to send shipments of fuel and arms to the Israeli military, the USA must immediately suspend all such transfers and back an international investigation into the atrocities being carried out by both sides.”

According to documents provided to Amnesty International by TransArms in Chicago and the International Peace Information Service in Antwerp, on 23 July 2014 the US-flagged oil tanker, the “Overseas Mykonos”, left the port of Corpus Christi, Texas, after departing from Houston for its declared destination of Ashkelon, where there is a major oil terminal just north of the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defence Forces’ relentless air and land assault has caused overwhelming destruction since the offensive began on 8 July. Thousands of homes have been destroyed and civilian buildings have been damaged, including medical facilities and vital infrastructure. So far more than 1,800 Palestinians have died, the vast majority of them civilians, including more than 440 children. At least 64 Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians and one Thai national have also been killed as Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups continue to fire indiscriminate rockets into Israel.

With no permanent end to the hostilities in sight, Amnesty International is calling on all other states to immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo on all the parties to the conflict in Gaza.

“The USA and Iran are both guilty of enabling violations of international law by providing military support to the conflicting parties. Without the supply of military technologies neither side in the Gaza conflict could have repeatedly violated international law with impunity on such a scale. Until violators on both sides are held accountable, no shipments of military supplies that can be used for serious violations should be permitted,” said Brian Wood.

Amnesty International is calling for the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to be referred to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

US fuel shipments to Israel

Transport documents provided to Amnesty International show that the “Overseas Santorini” and its sister ship “Overseas Mykonos” docked at Ashkelon oil terminal in Israel at least 10 times since January 2013 – including six times since January 2014 – delivering a total of 277,000 tons of jet fuel (or 101 million gallons) supplied by the US government to the Israeli Armed Forces. The Athens-based company, OSG Ship Management (GR) Ltd, managed both tankers.

Seven days after Israel began air attacks on Gaza in “Operation Protective Edge” on 8 July, the most recent consignment of jet fuel was delivered by a US-flagged oil tanker, the “Overseas Santorini”. The tanker departed from Corpus Christi in Texas on 21 June 2014 and arrived in Ashkelon on 14 July 2014 carrying 26,000 tons (or 9.6 million gallons) of jet fuel under a contract with the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency Energy.

The US Defense Logistics Agency Energy (DLA Energy), the US agency responsible for the procurement and distribution of various types of fuel to the US armed forces and their allies, shipped nine of the 10 jet fuel voyages to Israel during 2013 and 2014. The other voyage was overseen by the “Government of Israel” via its Consulate in New York.

In recent years, DLA Energy has awarded contracts worth hundreds of million dollars to US energy companies for the provision of jet fuel to Israel’s armed forces, in particular to a subsidiary firm of San Antonio-based Valero Energy.

In October 2013, DLA Energy awarded a Texas based company, Valero Marketing and Supply Co., a maximum $331 million contract for the delivery of aviation turbine fuel for the military service of Israel, and awarded Petromax LLC, based in Bay City, TX, a contract for delivery of automotive gasoline for the military service of Israel.

Previously Valero Marketing and Supply Co. had been awarded a maximum $246 million contract during 2013 for delivery of aviation fuel to the Israeli military. When contacted by Amnesty International, a spokesperson for Valero responded that it was not Valero’s policy to discuss the details of its supply contracts. OSG Ship Management and Petromax have not responded to letters from Amnesty International.

On 16 April 2013 the US Congress was notified that the Israeli government had requested 864 million gallons of JP-8 (“jet propulsion”) aviation fuel to the value of $2.7 million stating that: “the United States is committed to the security of Israel.” JP-8 fuel is used for jet fighter aircraft such as the US-manufactured F-16 jets which have been used by the Israeli air force during the current military operation in Gaza, as well as certain other aircraft, attack helicopters, tanks and other ground military vehicles depending on the type of their engine.

F-16 jets are deployed by at least 12 units of the Israel’s defense force. Israel has procured more than 300 F-16s since the 1980s and over 170 are reportedly in active service.

Under the US Foreign Assistance Act 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”. However, successive US administrations have used a clause in the Act that allows the President to continue its supplies to Israel in “extraordinary circumstances”.

“By persistently turning a blind eye to the devastating human cost of its immense arms and military fuel shipments to Israel, the USA is brazenly flouting basic human rights principles,” said Brian Wood.

Soros fund drops shares in Israel’s SodaStream

Sun, 03/08/2014 - 2:44pm

Soros Fund Management, the family office of the billionaire investor George Soros, has sold its stake in SodaStream, the soda making appliance producer that profits from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and was made popular by actress Scarlett Johansson’s endorsement.

The decision comes as a number of big international investors, including the fund linked to the Microsoft founder Bill Gates, join in a burgeoning financial boycott of Israel amid a push by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and other groups seeking more rights for Palestinians.

SodaStream, headquartered in the Israeli city of Lod, has its main factory in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.

“Soros Fund Management does not own shares of SodaStream,” Michael Vachon, a spokesman for the fund, told The National, declining to comment further on when and why it sold the shares.

In a May filing with the US markets regulator, the fund said it had bought 550,000 shares of SodaStream during the first quarter. Bloomberg reported that the fund acquired the shares for $24.3 million, with the new holding making up 0.3 per cent of the fund’s $9.3 billion stock portfolio.

“After pressure from Soros partners in the region and the world, they dropped SodaStream and promised, in private letters so far, to issue guidelines similar to those adopted by the EU to prevent any investment into companies that sustain the Israeli occupation and settlements in particular,” said Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian activist and co-founder of the BDS movement.

Several western investors said earlier this year that they had sold off holdings in companies that make money from business in occupied territories. Norway’s $810bn sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, a Dutch pension fund, and the Presbyterian Church in the US are among those that have excluded some Israeli and US companies from their portfolios this year. The companies operate in the occupied territories, where settlements built by Israel have been deemed illegal by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice among others.

Financial and economic boycotts have been tried before, most notably when Saudi Arabia and other Opec members stopped selling oil to the West in 1973 in reaction to the support given by the US and other nations to Israel during its war with Egypt.

But with the 1979 peace agreement that heralded a political and economic rapprochement with Egypt and eventually other Arab nations, the momentum fizzled away.

It is only in the past decade that there has been a revival of the boycott movement looking to end the Israeli occupation of land captured during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, allow Palestinians refugees to return home and end discrimination against Palestinians.

Analysts say that as the two-state solution – the framework in which peace negotiations have been undertaken for the past two decades – flounders, a growing anti-apartheid movement is filling its shoes.

This year has been a strong one for BDS. The Gates Foundation Asset Trust, which manages investments for the $40bn Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said in June that it sold its stake in the UK security services firm G4S, one of the companies targetted by BDS. The movement has also been in focus during the Israeli assault on Gaza and the widespread anti-war protests against the killing of hundreds there.

Earlier this year, Israel’s finance minister acknowledged the impact that a European-wide boycott could have on the country, depriving the economy of $5.7bn and putting almost 10,000 people out of work immediately. The prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also acknowledged the threat posed by BDS. In a March speech in the US, Mr Netanyahu launched an attack on the movement, branding them as racists.

“In America, BDS has really started to pick up in the last year, and there are a couple of other examples apart from the Presbyterian church, such as universities that have taken positions against Israel,” said Andrew Hammond, a Middle East analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “The whole movement is picking up not so much because the BDS movement is so powerful, but because people want Israel to come to a peace agreement.”

In January, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund decided to ban Africa Israel Investments (AFI Group) and its subsidiary Danya Cebus from its portfolio because of their involvement in building settlements in the West Bank.

In the same month PGGM, the second-largest Dutch pension fund, which manages more than $200bn in assets, said it had liquidated holdings in five Israeli banks for their role in financing settlement building.

In June, the US Presbyterian church said that it excluded three companies – Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola – from its investment portfolios because they were used by the Israeli government in the occupied territories and were not in compliance with its policy on socially responsible investing.

Norway is one of the few countries that have an ethics oversight council to review investments made by its sovereign wealth fund. In January, the finance minister, on advice from the council, told its sovereign wealth fund to sell its holdings in AFI Group and Danya Cebus.

Since the outbreak of fresh violence in Gaza, there have been no new announcements of boycotts by big investors, but funds such as Norway’s are constantly reviewing their investments according to the ethics council that monitors its holdings.

“We cannot comment on companies or cases that we are working on presently,” said Pia Goyer, senior adviser at the secretariat of the ethics council to Norway’s government pension fund. “You have to wait until we issue a recommendation. It takes some time to get all the facts on the table, the involvement of a company in any particular situation. The council only meets once a month and discusses what we should proceed with.”

Lisa Stonestreet, the programme director at the London-based UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association, a non-government trade body that promotes sustainable investment, said that institutional investors were increasingly focused on ethical factors.

“First of all there is a public demand for it in terms of people calling into account larger organisations across the board to look at what the impact is in terms of sustainability, in terms of what the impact is and social issues,” she said. For some investors, the main aspect is profitability.

The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, which manages more than $200bn, has investments in a number of Israeli companies, including SodaStream and Bank Halpolim, as part of its foreign portfolio of stocks. Those holdings were part of its indexing investment strategy and the fund had no plans to sell them as it focused only on potential for profit, said its spokeswoman, Linda Sims.

Round-up: Israel’s massacre in Gaza prompts international sanctions and boycott action

Fri, 01/08/2014 - 3:07pm

- Chile suspends Israel trade agreement negotiations as 5 Latin American countries recall ambassadors from Israel
- BDS initiatives grow around the world
- A-list stars express solidarity

Occupied Palestine, August 1 – As the death toll from Israel’s massacre in Gaza passes 1,100, Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists have reiterated their calls for governments to hold Israel to account and for a redoubling of BDS initiatives to end Israel’s criminal impunity.

“What we are witnessing is nothing short of a massacre against the Palestinian people. Israel must be made to pay a heavy economic and political price for its crimes against the people of Gaza,” said Zaid Shuaibi, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

“We call on people of conscience everywhere to get involved with the BDS movement, including by signing the call for a military embargo on Israel and taking action against companies and academic institutions that facilitate Israel’s heinous crimes in Gaza,” Shuaibi added.

Shuaibi also welcomed news that governments across the world are taking action to pressure Israel to comply with international law and human rights.

Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru have all recalled their ambassadors from Israel, following Bolivia and Venezuela who have withdrawn their ambassadors during the 2008-09 massacre in Gaza.

The Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has condemned what she described as Israel’s “massacre” in Gaza, a term also used even by the French foreign ministry. Turkey’s prime minister has gone even further, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” in Gaza.

In South Africa, the parliamentary group of the ruling ANC party has called for the government to recall its ambassador and expel the Israeli ambassador, and politicians and political parties have made similar calls across the world.

The senate in Chile has voted unanimously in favour of a request to recall the ambassador. The government of Chile has also confirmed it has suspended negotiations on a new free trade agreement with Israel.

The government of Maldives has cancelled three bilateral agreements with Israel and is considering moves to prohibit Israeli products from being imported.

“The trade and diplomatic sanctions taken in particular by countries from the global south are a hugely welcome step that we urge other governments to follow. States have a legal and moral obligation to do all that they can to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law, including by cancelling free trade agreements and imposing a military embargo, as a first concrete step,” said Shuaibi.

Growing calls for military embargo

A call for a military embargo on Israel launched by 6 Nobel laureates and dozens of celebrities has been signed by more than 45,000 people. Strongly worded statements calling for a military embargo have been published by Amnesty International USA and Amnesty International UK.

In Belgium, 150 public figures have called for the Belgian government to end arms trade with Israel and a separate letter signed by more than 100 doctors has similar demands. In the UK, MPs, authors and artists were joined by more than 21,000 members of the public in calling for a military embargo on Israel, and a major association of medical students also called for a military embargo.

“All across the world, people are echoing the call from Palestinian civil society for a full military embargo on Israel as the most urgent measure of accountability. Israel’s on-going massacre, its deliberate and premeditated targeting of schools, hospitals and civilians, including children, in accordance with its criminal Dahiya Doctrine, makes any continued military cooperation with Israel an indefensible act of conscious complicity,” said Shuaibi.

International BDS grassroots action

While most world governments remain apathetic to, and in some cases complicit in, Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, people across the world are expressing anger and a strong resolve to make Israel pay for its crimes through the BDS movement.

Key developments include:

- More than a million people took part in demonstrations in cities all across the world during last weekend (see pictures and reports here). Demonstrations have been calling for an end to the siege on Gaza and for governments to impose arms embargoes and sanctions on Israel.

- An Avaaz petition calling for making the “economic cost” for Israel “too high to bear” through pressuring 4 companies, a British bank and a major Dutch pension fund to end their support for Israeli violations of international law has been signed by more than 1.5 million people.

- In a sign that the Israeli economy may face serious consequences in the wake of Israel’s on-going massacre in Gaza, Priniv, a major Israeli export company has revealed that a large export deal has collapsed as result of Israel’s current attack on Gaza.

- World famous Irish musician Sinéad O’Connor cancelled a scheduled performance in Israel and explicitly stated she was doing so in order to adhere to the Palestinian-led cultural boycott of Israel. “Nobody with any sanity, including myself, would have anything but sympathy for the Palestinian plight,” she added.

Top performers and cultural figures of the calibre of Madonna and Rihanna and have expressed support for or solidarity with the plight of the Palestinan people in Gaza in an unprecedented and potentially game-changing manner. The Hollywood Reporter writes: “[Jon] Stewart, director Jonathan Demme, Tori Amos, Rob Schneider, Kim Kardashian, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Bourdain, Roger Waters, NBA stars Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudemire, Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, D.L. Hughley, Mia Farrow, Stephen Hawking and Annie Lennox are among the other big names who have weighed in with some degree of support for the people of Gaza or outright criticism of the Israeli government.”

- At the recent Mercosur summit, social movements from all Mercosur countries (Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina) handed over today a letter to the presidents calling for an immediate end of the Mercosur-Israel Free Trade Agreement, the withdrawal of the ambassadors, a military embargo and other trade sanctions.

- From Mexico to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, large civil society coalitions, including trade union federations, parties, farmers unions and more, are echoing the same demands for military, diplomatic and economic sanctions against Israel.

- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has called for an intensification of BDS campaigning and the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from South Africa. Similar demands have been made by trade union federations and trade unions in Brazil, Ireland and the UK.

- The Mandate trade union in Ireland, whose membership includes retail staff, has written to all major Irish retailers calling on them to stop selling Israeli produce.

- Also in Ireland, Dublin city council passed a resolution calling for a military embargo and the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

- The heads of the Social Democratic parties of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland have issued a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire and for an international ban on trade with illegal Israeli settlements.

- In Turkey, at least 12 local municipalities, a number of major business associations and a major trade union have issued calls for a boycott of Israeli products.

- The Kashmir Manufacturers & Traders Association and other associations in Kashmir as well as the Mumbai Hoteliers Association have called for a boycott of Israeli goods.

- The US-based Critical Ethnic Studies Association and the African Literature Association have joined the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel due to the deep complicity of Israeli universities in Israeli violations of international law.

- The Church of Scotland has “commended” to its congregation the Kairos Palestine document, a document from Palestinian Christians calling for nonviolent action to resist injustice, including through BDS campaigning.

“If scenes from the Gaza concentration camp reveal an Israeli-made tsunami, a counter tidal wave of BDS campaigning is crucially needed to end Israel’s habitual brutalities and massacres against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. It has never been as urgent to isolate Israel as a world pariah as it is right now,” said Shuabi.

Those who choose not to act to stop Israel’s massacre, especially those whose governments are implicated in Israeli war crimes, are choosing the “side of the oppressor,” as Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said.

Major Israeli exporter reports cancelled orders due to Israeli massacre in Gaza

Fri, 01/08/2014 - 2:59pm

In a sign that the Israeli economy may face serious consequences in the wake of its ongoing massacre of Israel, a major Israeli export company has revealed that a large export deal has collapsed as result of Israel’s current attack on Gaza.

Fruit juice producer Priniv told The Marker (Hebrew) that a deal to export fresh fruit juices to Sweden worth has been called off after they refused to export the produce in a way that would make it easier to conceal the fact it was produced in Israel. Customers in Belgium and France have also made similar requests. Priniv director Ido Yaniv attributed the drop in sales to Israel’s ongoing attack in Gaza.

Yaniv predicted that the company will lose orders worth NIS 1.5m as a result of Israel’s ongoing massacre in Gaza.

There is mounting evidence of a growing “silent boycott” against Israel by European businesses fearful of being associated with its brutal regime of colonialism and apartheid.

In February, one Dutch and one Italian company both pulled out of the bidding to construct new port facilities in Israel over fears about “political repercussions”, according to Haaretz.

Activists in the Jordan Valley area of the occupied Palestinian West Bank have reported that Palestinian farmers have been contacted by European retailers wishing to confirm that they are Palestinian rather than Israeli.

With thanks to Boycott from Within for assistance with translation

Stand with Palestinian workers in Gaza: a call for trade union solidarity

Wed, 30/07/2014 - 5:33pm

The Palestinian trade union movement, with support from with support from the Congress of South African Trade Unions and its affiliates, is unanimously calling on trade unions internationally to take immediate action to stop the Israeli massacre in Gaza and hold Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

In the two weeks of the latest Israeli military aggression in the Gaza strip, whole families have been wiped out, and over 600 Palestinians have been killed, almost 80% of them civilians and a third of them children. Over 1.8 million Palestinians are trapped in an occupied and besieged small piece of land that Israel has turned into an open-air prison, subject to daily bombardment by Israeli rockets and heavy artillery. For seven years, Palestinians in Gaza have been under a brutal and illegal siege whose purpose is to destroy the conditions of life and break the spirit of the people. The siege and the recurrent bombing have created a humanitarian catastrophe, with critical shortages of water, food, and medical supplies. Freedom of movement, the right to education and access to health services have been extensively denied by the Israeli occupation.

Israel’s goal in this latest aggression against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is to perpetuate the occupation. This year we mark ten years since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the construction of Israel’s wall and its associated regime in the occupied Palestinian West Bank – of settlements, land confiscation, separate roads, permit systems and movement restrictions – is illegal under international law. Yet in ten years the international community has allowed Israel to continue construction on occupied territory and continue its system of occupation, apartheid and colonialism against the Palestinian people.

While governments prevaricate and allow Israel to act with utter impunity, and most of the mainstream media parrots Israel’s Orwellian propaganda, civil society solidarity is the only force that can help stop the ongoing slaughter of our people and send them a message that they are not alone, exactly as effective international solidarity had done in supporting the struggle for freedom in apartheid South Africa. In the face of this international inaction, we, the Palestinian trade unions, call on trade unions around the world to take urgent measures, and in particular to intensify Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with international law.

We ask you to consider the following actions:

  1. Stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel,
  2. Divest your trade union pension — and other — funds from Israel Bonds as well as from corporations and banks that complicit in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations,
  3. Dissociate from Israeli trade unions which are complicit in the occupation
  4. Support our call for a military embargo on Israel
  5. Share information with your members about the siege and destruction of Gaza and ask your members to boycott Israeli products and to share their knowledge with family, co-workers, and friends.

Today more than ever, solidarity with Palestinians workers and their families in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory is an essential component of progressive, principled trade union politics. Given the complete failure and unwillingness of governments to hold Israel accountable to international law there is widespread recognition that Israel’s occupation must be isolated by the pressure of civil society.

We rely on our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement internationally to continue a proud tradition of international solidarity and to stand with us as you stood with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Issued by the following Palestinian trade unions:
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions-Gaza
General Union of Palestinian Workers
Union of Professional Associations
Federation of Independent Trade Unions

With the support of:
Congress of South African Trade Unions

US faith groups join call for an arms embargo on Israel

Tue, 29/07/2014 - 1:34pm

It is with heavy hearts that we compose this statement.  At the time of this writing, the Israeli military’s ground, naval, and aerial bombardment of Gaza has killed more than 1,280 Palestinians.  The vast majority of these victims were civilians, according to the United Nations.  Palestinian rockets and anti-tank fire have killed two Israeli civilians, one Thai migrant worker, and 53 Israeli soldiers (one Israeli soldier has been reported as “missing” by Israel and “captured” by Hamas).

We deplore and condemn the use of violence by anyone, anytime, anywhere. For, each of these casualties is a child of God; each has a name; each has a family; each has a life story that has come to an abrupt and tragic end.

These deaths do not occur in a vacuum.  The current onslaught takes place within the context of a seven-year old Israeli and Egyptian imposed blockade of Gaza and forty-seven year old Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

Most of Gaza’s residents, moreover, are from families that were driven from their homes in Palestine in 1948, when the state of Israel was created, and have since not been permitted by Israel to return.  Those Palestinians and their descendants who did manage to stay in Israel after 1948 are subject to institutionalized discrimination and increasing hostility from right-wing Israelis.

In the face of this oppression, Palestinians everywhere must struggle for their dignity, human rights, and equality.  Right now in Gaza, every Palestinian is literally struggling to stay alive.

Israeli aggression against Palestine, both in the past two weeks, and over the past several decades, has been largely enabled by American military aid and international military sales.  The US government gives Israel $3.1 billion a year to purchase the most advanced weaponry in the world.  European Union countries, as well as Brazil, India, and Chile have also sold advanced weapons to the Israeli military.

We support efforts to prevent the distribution of weapons to Gaza.

We likewise call for a blockade of weapons to Israel.

We are therefore joining the six Nobel Peace Laureates and thousands of others in endorsing the Palestinian call for an arms embargo on Israel.  We will continue endorsing this call until the current bloodshed, blockade, occupation, and exile come to an end.

We ask that you join us in this action and in continuing to pray for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.

In peace and hope,

American Jews for a Just Peace

American Muslims for Palestine

Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America

Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy

Christian-Jewish Allies of Greater Philadelphia

Christians Witnessing for Palestine, Friends of Sabeel

Citizens for Justice in the Middle East—Kansas City

Des Moines Catholic Worker, Rachel Corrie Project

Disciples Justice Action Network

Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network

Friends of Sabeel-North America

Friends of Sabeel-Sacramento Region

Friends of Sabeel-DC Metro

Interdenominational Advocates for Peace

Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council Co-Founders, Rabbi Brant Rosen and Rabbi Alissa Wise

Jews for Justice in Palestine

Kairos USA

Keep Hope Alive, Bay Area, California

Middle East Task Force of Chicago Presbytery

Palestine-Israel Action Group of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting (Quakers)

Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace

Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace

Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Quaker Palestine Israel Network

Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East

United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network

United Methodist Kairos Response Steering Committee

West Hills Friends Church, Portland, Oregon

 

Press Contact: Bob Ross, info@theIPMN.org

 

SPSC bloggers latest

Dick Pitt's picture
Posted by: Dick Pitt
4 weeks 2 days ago
Dick Pitt's picture
Posted by: Dick Pitt
9 weeks 2 days ago
Dick Pitt's picture
Posted by: Dick Pitt
10 weeks 7 hours ago

SPSC bloggers listing

Have a look at all the blog posts here