Sheffield PSC Tag Cloud

SPSC bloggers latest

Dick Pitt's picture
Posted by: Dick Pitt
5 weeks 2 days ago
Dick Pitt's picture
Posted by: Dick Pitt
13 weeks 6 days ago
Dick Pitt's picture
Posted by: Dick Pitt
20 weeks 3 days ago

SPSC bloggers listing

Have a look at all the blog posts here

BDS movement

Syndicate content
The Palestinian BDS National Committee website
Updated: 1 hour 24 min ago

Earth Day Network Cuts Ties with SodaStream

Mon, 21/04/2014 - 9:46pm

April 21, Washington, DC- On the eve of Earth Day, groups working for Palestinian rights globally are celebrating Earth Day Network’s decision to end its partnership with SodaStream, whose main production factory is located in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Earlier this month, SodaStream, which markets its home carbonating devices as a green alternative to bottled beverages, announced the launch of an awareness-raising campaign centered around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Several articles reported that this “Secret Continent” campaign was developed with Earth Day Network (EDN), which works with more than 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify, and mobilize the environmental movement.

Groups in the United States and abroad mobilized in opposition to the partnership between EDN and SodaStream due to the company’s complicity in Israel’s military occupation, including the destruction that Israeli settlements have caused to the Palestinian environment. In response, EDN’s logo has been removed from the Secret Continentwebsite and EDN no longer lists SodaStream as a sponsor.

“This Secret Continent campaign is a clear example of SodaStream attempting to greenwash its complicity in Israel’s occupation through a public relations stunt. SodaStream appeals to customers by marketing itself as environmentally friendly, but a product manufactured in an illegal settlement on occupied land cannot be ‘green.’ We applaud Earth Day Network for listening to the thousands of concerned individuals who contacted them and sending the message that companies profiting from human rights abuses have no place in the global environmental movement,” said Ramah Kudaimi of theUS Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

PENGON, the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network, added: “We are happy to see that Earth Day Network cut ties with the Israeli settlement manufacturer SodaStream. Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise are not environmentally friendly. On the contrary, they are based on the pillage of our land and deplete and pollute our water resources. Over the last 40 years, the Israeli occupation has cut hundreds of thousands of trees to make space for their colonization. We call on all environmental organizations and activists to stand with us against the Israeli occupation and its systematic large scale destruction of our land.”

This is the second major controversy this year involving SodaStream’s settlement factory. In January Oxfam International came under fire to drop Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson as a Global Ambassador after she became a Global Brand Ambassador for SodaStream. After an international campaign, Johansson resigned from her role with Oxfam.

“The Earth Day Network is rightfully following the path of Oxfam by disassociating itself from SodaStream, a company that produces its water carbonating devices in an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory. Jewish Voice for Peace will continue campaigning against SodaStream in Seattle, New York, DC, Minneapolis, Boston, Portland ,and other cities across the U.S. to remind consumers that buying products manufactured in stolen land is neither ethical nor sustainable,” said Sydney Levy of Jewish Voice for Peace


Since the 2005 call from more than 170 Palestinian civil society groups for the international community to engage in boycott, divestment, and sanction(BDS) campaigns targeting institutions and corporations complicit in Israel’s oppressive policies towards Palestinians, activists across the globe have been organizing under the slogan “Occupation is Not Green” to convince stores and consumers to boycott SodaStream.


“We congratulate Earth Day Network on doing the right thing by ending its collaboration with SodaStream. After the media firestorm surrounding SodaStream, Scarlett Johansson, and Oxfam, and now this dissolved partnership with Earth Day Network, SodaStream is going to have difficulty finding reputable individuals and groups to help whitewash and greenwash its ugly occupation profiteering,” said Nancy Kricorian of CODEPINK: Women for Peace.

Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign in the occupied West Bank, added: “We thank the Earth Day Network for having cancelled its cooperation with SodaStream and are grateful to all those people around the world that continue mobilizing to ensure the truth about SodaStream is no secret anymore. While the illegal Wall and the settlements rob Palestinians of their land and resources and lock them up into economically and socially unsustainable enclaves, companies such as SodaStream ensure profitability of the Israeli settlement enterprise by exploiting Palestinian workers who are left without workers’ rights and without any viable alternative to make a living.”

Following a recent visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, Friends of the Earth International chairperson Jagoda Munic condemned what she referred to as the “less visible forms of occupation,” which include toxic waste-dumping, the expropriation and diversion of fresh water sources, and the development of polluting industries close to Palestinian towns. She called these Israeli governmental policies “truly shocking” and went on to say: “Palestine stands as an example of the link between environmental injustice and social and political injustice.

Largest student petition in Florida’s history calls for USF divestment

Mon, 21/04/2014 - 8:32pm

Students at University of South Florida are leading the largest petition ever at any Florida university. The petition demands ethical investment from the university’s $391 million endowment. Over 10,000 STUDENT signatures call on the USF Foundation to divest from companies complicit in human rights violations in Palestine.

“It’s appalling that our university does not have a policy requiring investment only in ethically-sound companies,” said Ahmad Saadaldin, president of Students for Justice in Palestine at USF. “This gives us students the impression that our school values profits over our duties as global citizens.”

The petition has listed three direct demands: transparency, ethical investment, and divestment. Because the majority of the investments are in co-mingling funds, the investments have little or no transparency. Currently, the USF Foundation does not have any policy that ensures that the endowment is invested in a socially just manner. The combination of these factors has led students to galvanize one of the largest campus efforts for accountability in the endowment.

Students have made a clear call for the USF Foundation to act today and to act immediately. The university’s endowment is “very liquid”. This means, that if USF Foundation decides, it can divest from more than 85% of its portfolio within a month.

In addition to garnering almost a quarter of the student body’s endorsement, several faculty members and student organizations have announced their support of the petition.

“We support SJP’s petition to make USF a [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] school,” said Gage Lacharite, president of Students for a Democratic Society. “Boycotts have historically been used in movements against oppression, such as the UFW strikes of the 70′s and the anti-South African apartheid movements of the 80′s. The occupation of Palestine by Israel is a criminal act that must be stopped.”

The petition builds on the legacy of the civil rights movement and the movement to end South African apartheid. As USF students stand up in the pursuit of equality and justice, this movement vitalizes the words of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. engraved on the center of the campus, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Israeli state water company loses Portugal deal and faces global protests

Mon, 21/04/2014 - 4:19pm

- Announcement follows similar decisions by authorities in Argentina and Netherlands
- Actions against Mekorot held across 12 countries

Lisbon’s water company EPAL has announced that it terminated a technology exchange deal with Israeli state water company Mekorot following protests over Mekorot’s role in Israel’s ‘water apartheid’ over Palestinians.

Portuguese MPs and campaign groups had argued that the deal amounted to support for Mekorot’s role in the theft of Palestinian water.

Mekorot, who lost out on a $170m contract with Argentinian authorities earlier this year following similar protests, illegally appropriates Palestinian water, diverting it to illegal Israeli settlements and towns inside Israel.  The state owned company is the key body responsible for implementing discriminatory water polices that Amnesty International has accused Israel implementing “as a means of expulsion”.

“Many Palestinian communities suffer from a lack of access to adequate water due to the encroachment of Israeli settlers on water resources and to Israeli policies and practices that deny Palestinians the human right to water,” explained Dr. Ayman Rabi from Friends of the Earth Palestine / PENGON.

EPAL this week responded to fresh calls to terminate its relationship with Mekorot by announcing that it had terminated their relationship with Mekorot in 2010 when the public campaign against the collaboration was at its height. The campaign saw large demonstrations in Lisbon’s main square and pressure against local authorities.

A statement released by the coalition of Portuguese organisations that campaigned against Mekorot said that the decision will “strengthen and encourage the efforts of solidarity movements that work towards the international isolation of Israel because of its policies of ethic cleansing, occupation and colonization”.

The EPAL announcement follows a similar decision by municipal authorities in Buenos Aires and Dutch national water carrier Vitens and comes at the end of an international week against Mekorot that saw demonstrations and campaign actions take place across at least 12 countries.

In Paris, BDS France activists burst into a luxury hotel where delegates from Mekorot were taking part in a business breakfast as part of the Global Water Summit. Campaigners urged dozens of stunned delegates not to cooperate with the Israeli water company.

A French parliamentary report has accused Israel of imposing a system of “water apartheid” in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The French mobilisation followed a noise demonstration that disrupted a London water conference that was being addressed by Mekorot and other Israeli water companies.

In Rome, a ‘water checkpoint’ street theatre protest highlighted the campaign against collaboration between Mekorot and the city’s water company ACEA. The campaign is backed by the broad coalition of campaign groups resisting privatisation of water.

In Argentina, the Congress of the Trade Union Federation Capital (CTA Capital) was dedicated to the campaign against Mekorot and hosted a discussion of how Mekorot is attempting to export discriminatory water policies developed in Palestine to Argentina. The session celebrated the successful campaign that led to Mekorot losing out on a $170m contract and discussed how best to prevent Mekorot from being awarded other contracts it has won or is bidding for.

A seminar in Uruguay brought together Palestine solidarity, environmental and anti-privatisation groups to discuss struggles for water and land in Uruguay and Palestine.

On March 22 world water day, more than 250 people joined a Thunderclap Twitter storm that had a social reach of over 300,000 people.

Campaigns against Mekorot are also underway in Greece.

“The amazing reach of the first week against Mekorot and the fact that public authorities are increasingly refusing to collaborate with Mekorot are further signs that people and governments across the world are no longer prepared to fund Israeli apartheid,” said Jamal Juma’ from Stop the Wall, a member of PENGON/Friends of the Earth Palestine, one of the Palestinian organisations that called for the week of action against Mekorot.

“We call on people all over the world to continue to take action against Mekorot and its attempts to export Israel’s discriminatory water policies,” he added.




French unions condemns collaboration with Israeli agriculture

Thu, 10/04/2014 - 8:33pm

The head of INRA, the French body for research in agriculture, recently went to Israel. In this statement, the SUD-Recherche union condemns the visit. The union of INRA staff, CGT-INRA has also published a statement

A group of representatives of French public research institutions made
a visit to Israel in mid-March. The delegation was led by François
Houllier, the president of INRA, the National Institute for Agricultural
Research. It met with several Israeli ministers, with the aim of
strengthening the two countries’ cooperation in research and technology.
These French public bodies are thereby showing their support for the
colonial and discriminatory policies of this State, which have been
condemned by dozens of United Nations resolutions.

Ten years ago, the International Court of Justice ruled the wall
erected by the State of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
to be illegal. In the absence of world reaction, and with domestic
Israeli progressive forces muzzled, Israel has been able to continue the
construction of this colonial wall, the occupation of the Palestinian
West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip (under siege for
seven years) and the Syrian Golan Heights, the destruction of
Palestinian homes and farmlands, the building of ever more numerous
colonies, and the violation of human rights.

Among the victims, the Palestinian farmers are in the front line: the
theft of water resources is being organised by Mekorot, the national
water company of the occupying power; intensive and polluting colonial
agricultural practices are being developed at the expense of indigenous
farming methods; Bedouin farmers continue to be expelled from the

It is therefore up to civil society to counter the inertia of the world
powers and to exert pressure on them so that the rule of law may
prevail. It is in this spirit that numerous Palestinian associations
launched an appeal, disseminated by organisations across the globe
including the Solidaires trade union, to which SUD Recherche is
affiliated, for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
against Israel until that State complies with international law and the
universal principles of human rights.

Whereas the call for the institutional boycott of Israel is
intensifying around the world, including within the international
community of researchers (we recall Professor Stephen Hawking’s recent
cancellation of a visit to that country), the French State and the heads
of its public research bodies are, on the contrary, giving their support
to Israel! At the same time, certain French university authorities are
continuing to ban the holding of meetings devoted to the Palestinian

SUD Recherche considers it highly improper that institutional
cooperation be initiated or reinforced between French research
institutions and their Israeli counterparts, it condemns the agreements
that have just been made between them and demands that they be annulled.
We are requesting a meeting with the INRA president or with his
designated representative, in order to explain our concerns in more

Video: Bricks from the Wall – Jihane al Quds and Harlem Anti-Wall Chorus

Sat, 05/04/2014 - 3:31pm

Collaboration with videographer Jihane al Quds and Harlem Anti-Wall Chorus, “Bricks From the Wall,” urging pension giant TIAA-CREF to divest from companies profiting from colonialism and ethnic cleansing by Israel in Palestine.

We don’t need no occupation (Divest! Divest!)
We don’t need no swat patrol (Divest! Divest!)
Cat’s bulldozing West Bank classrooms (Divest! Divest!)
That’s not for the greater good
Elbit Systems, Caterpillar, G4S, Hewlett Packard, SodaStream
Hey, T-Cref, leave them kids alone!
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall

We don’t need no Northrop Grumman (Divest! Divest!)
Death and mayhem from above (Divest! Divest!)
Motorola’s no Solution (Divest! Divest!)
For Palestine let’s show some love
Northrop Grumman, Veolia, Sodastream, Elbit Systems, Caterpillar
Hey, T-Cref, your dollars flatten homes!
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall

We don’t need Veolia Light Rail (Divest! Divest!)
Seizing East Jerusalem (Divest! Divest!)
Divest from Elbit’s ammunition (Divest! Divest!)
And yes they helped to built the wall
Hewlett Packard, Northrop Grumman, Elbit Systems, Caterpillar, G4S
Hey, T-Cref, look how apartheid’s grown!
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall
All in all we’re gonna tear those bricks from the wall

Solidarity with Anti-Apartheid Resistance in Post-Oslo Palestine

Sat, 05/04/2014 - 2:35pm

Professor Haidar Eid, steering committee member with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, writes for the Socialism and Democracy journal on strategies of solidarity.

Boycott movement has empowered Palestinians, says co-founder

Sat, 05/04/2014 - 1:26pm

The Palestinian boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has recently generated unprecedented international attention — and opposition — including from US, European and Israeli officials. How much do you know about its origins?

I met Adnan Ramadan, one of the co-founders of the movement, in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank in 2005 — the year the Palestinian call for BDS was launched.

Ramadan was born in and grew up in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. After he received his degree from Bethlehem University, he worked at the research unit of the YMCA branch in Beit Sahour.

I interviewed Adnan via Skype to get his views on how this movement has developed, almost nine years later.

He also speaks about the history of BDS, underscoring an important and often overlooked point: the movement was conceived and founded by Palestinians, in Palestine.

Now, he says, it is bringing results far beyond early expectations.

Adri Nieuwhof: What were the main reasons you helped design and launch the BDS call?

Adnan Ramadan: We met when you were organizing a workshop for the Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI) where we discussed the call for BDS.

At that time I coordinated this network and I was the manager of the Joint Advocacy Initiative of the YMCA and YWCA. Based on this, I am a co-founder of the BDS campaign and I served in the secretariat of the campaign for several years.

It was one year after the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice regarding Israel’s construction of the apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank.

There was a lot of discussion among Palestinian civil society organizations and others in Palestinian society about how we can give the solidarity movement a solid tool with a clear vision based on a deep analysis of the conflict between Palestine and the Israelis. We found the experience of South Africa very inspiring.

So there was the opinion of following that experience of the people of South Africa. Especially because the governments at that time were far away from putting any kind of pressure on Israel.

We decided to address civil society organizations all over the world with a unified call and a strategy. We asked an international donor organization to support a workshop with people from South Africa and the international solidarity movement with South Africa. So we invited you and Bangani Ngeleza from South Africa to come to Beit Sahour.

The outcome of our workshop was to send out the call for BDS. We coordinated with Palestinian networks to send the call together with the Palestine Non-Governmental Organizations NetworkIttijah — the umbrella of Palestinian civil society organizations in historic Palestine, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, OPGAI and Stop the Wall.

The call was signed later by different organizations, mainly Palestinian grassroots organizations in Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Gaza, and many parts of the Palestinian community.

AN: What were your expectations? Were they fulfilled?

AR: Our expectation was that at least there would be a unified call from the Palestinian community. Many of our friends and people who sympathized with us or were convinced of our rights were confused by the many calls that came from different parts of our community.

By unifying our expectations as Palestinians we gave the international solidarity movement something clear. Some people said that the call was very extreme because many groups would refuse to describe Israel as racist or as a discriminatory system, or to compare it with South Africa — while the facts on the ground in Palestine go beyond this.

So we decided to go on, and we found a lot of support — more than 170 Palestinian organizations signed the call. The BDS movement is now the biggest network in Palestine.

The success of the call on the international level was beyond our expectations, especially after the war on Gaza in 2008-2009. It is a tool for people to participate in many ways. It gives the opportunity to explain and reveal the truth about what is going on.

In 2005, there was a lot of confusion made by us, the Palestinians, in the way we were representing our cause to the international community. By sending a call based on international law, UN resolutions, on an analysis of the situation, it was a way to return to the roots of the conflict.

The BDS campaign could open opportunities for political change, not just a way of expressing solidarity and exerting pressure on political decision makers. It opened opportunities for change in the power relation between Palestine and Israel, and also at the internal level.

AN: Can you explain how this worked?

AR: The official political process and approach was mainly through negotiations. Israel used the negotiations to say there is a Palestinian state, a Palestinian political system and economy.

Everything is there and it is their problem if they fail to develop the system. At the same time they were marketing that the Palestinian people are a threat to Israeli society, to the state. The reason for all their measures was “security.” The negotiations were a kind of umbrella to legitimize the marketing of these kinds of ideas.

The other voice was not listened to, the voice of the Palestinian people who are living in this complicated situation, who are suffering and losing every day. The BDS call was sending this alternative voice with an alternative analysis and showed Israel as it is. Not as a democratic state, like they are saying.

The BDS call created a new political discourse because it was not part of the national political system or political factions.

The civil society organizations involved in the call worked in many areas, they had partners and friends all over the world. There was more credibility for such a call because it came from grassroots organizations who know their partners.

The call for BDS also opened a new way of thinking inside the Palestinian community. It showed that there are new nonviolent tools to struggle that could have a serious impact.

Violence was one of the most important issues discussed at an international level, because Israel succeeded in marketing the Palestinian struggle as a violent struggle. The BDS call could show a different image of the Palestinians.

AN: Would you say that the BDS call empowered the Palestinians?

AR: Sure. When I talked with international friends and partners about the situation, they asked “what exactly do you want from us?” They told me that they received contradicting calls and requests from Palestinians. In general it strengthened us to have this solid and clearly defined call.

Secondly, as Palestinians who are involved in BDS, it gives us the opportunity to think, to act in a different way among ourselves. The experience of BDS work was positive by creating the secretariat and having communications on a daily basis, not by being physically near but through other means, by the group leadership.

There was a lot of sensitivity on how would we lead this; would we fall back on individual influences, or the political agendas of different groups?

The BDS work gave a new model of group decision-making, of dealing with issues with an open mind, giving opportunities for creative ideas. BDS offered Palestinians for the first time to present their leaders. Before that there were only the political parties.

AN: Some people say the BDS campaign should focus on settlements? What is your response?

AR: Talking about the boycott of settlements is returning back to confusion. For us, the Palestinians, Israel is one state. It is not a state for settlers and a state for others. The political system is one, the security system is one, the economic system is one.

All is linked, representing the same policy and mentality. Let’s return to the main source of conflict: the Zionist movement wants to show that this is a land without a people for a people without land, denying the existence of the Palestinian people and their rights.

They bring in people from all over the world if they are Jewish and settle them here.

When we talk of boycotting Israel, we talk of boycotting a system of ruling, a way of thinking and behaving, that denies the existence of the Palestinian people and their rights.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority (PA) — based on their agreements and their mentality — has called for a boycott only of settlement products.

This can create some small problems for some small industries here and there. It does not give opportunities for real political solutions and change inside the Israeli community.

The PA tried in this way to contain the whole BDS campaign and take the successes. Their approach created a lot of obstacles in different countries. There have been a lot of confrontations between BDS activists and people who represent the official policy of the PA.

For me the call from Palestinian civil society is clearly about boycotting Israel and calling for sanctions against Israel. But everybody can decide — based on his analysis, circumstances and sometimes the laws — how to respond to the call.

For example the people in the Netherlands may want to focus on a boycott of settlement products. The important thing is that they are responding to our call.

AN: When is the BDS movement no longer needed? When is our job done?

AR: There is no longer a need for BDS when we have achieved our demands, which are ending the occupation, the return of the Palestinian refugees to their lands and equality for the people who are living in Israel and Palestine.

BDS is important because the walls are closed for other approaches. The change that is taking place inside the Israeli community is very serious and dangerous, reflecting a racist and discriminatory mentality: to take lands from the Palestinians or to kill them or to send them to other countries.

It comes on a daily basis from the political leadership and government in Israel. The facts on the ground are that we see how circles of settlements surround the inhabited areas of Palestine, we see the political and economic pressure on the Palestinian people to leave this land, to make them desperate, to make them very weak.

Israel seeks to take their resources, not just the land but also the water and other resources, and to control every element of their lives.

It is part of a comprehensive program and the negotiations are part of it. The necessity of the call for BDS is becoming more and more important. With BDS we see results. We need more results. It will give us more encouragement.

Bill Gates slammed over links to Israel prison torture

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 4:00pm

Sign the petition:

Palestinian human rights organisations have criticised Bill Gates after it emerged that his charitable foundation is heavily invested in G4S, a private security company that helps Israel run prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners are held without trial and subjected to torture.

In an open letter to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation published today, Palestinian human rights groups argued that the foundation was undermining international law and its stated commitment to human rights with its $170m investment in the company that makes it one of the company’s biggest shareholders.

British security company G4S has a contract with the Israeli Prison Service to run and install security and management systems at six prisons Palestinian political prisoners, including children, are routinely subjected to torture, according to human rights organisations.

“It is completely unacceptable for a charitable foundation to be investing in a company that participates in gross human rights violations against Palestinian political prisoners. The Gates Foundation talks about every life having equal value, but what about the political prisoners, are their lives not of equal value?” said Sahar Francis, director of Palestinian prisoner and advocacy organisation Addameer.

More than 500 children are ‘are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year’, according to Defence for Children International – Palestine. Three out of every four of child detainees face physical violence during detention and interrogation, much of which takes place in facilities G4S helps to operate.

Palestinian student and father-of-two Arafat Jaradat died in custody last year after being tortured in Megiddo Prison, a facility that G4S helps to operate.

“Bill Gates is the richest man in the world, why does his charity have to fund itself by profiting from the torture of children and the use of detention without trial?” Francis added.

Israel illegally transfers prisoners from the occupied Palestinian territories to inside Israel despite this being prohibited by Article 76 of the Geneva Convention. Campaigners argue that G4S is complicit in this violation of international law.

petition that has been backed by 20 Palestinian organisations and more than 100 organisations from across the world has also been launched today.

Sign the petition:

G4S has already lost contracts worth millions of dollars as trade unions and universities and other public bodies in Europe and South Africa cancel their contracts over concerns about the firm’s role in Israel’s prison system.

Hollywood actor Scarlett Johansson was embroiled in controversy and was eventually forced into resigning her role as an Oxfam ambassador earlier this year after she endorsed SodaStream, an Israeli company that manufactures drinks machines in an illegal Israeli settlement. Celebrities including Pink Flyod’s Roger Waters, Massive Attack’s Robert del Naja and Maxi Jazz from Faithless have backed a cultural boycott of Israel.

In April 2012, more than 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners went on hunger strike to protest conditions in Israel’s jails and the use of administrative detention, a form of detention without trial. There are currently three prisoners who remain on hunger strike, two of whom have gone without food for almost 80 days.

Palestinian human rights groups say that Israel uses mass incarceration to dissuade Palestinians from protesting against Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. Israeli military orders make a whole range of activities illegal, including joining a political party or organising a demonstration.

There are more than 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners currently held in Israeli jails, including 183 children and 175 held under administrative detention, a form of detention without trial that Israel uses to hold Palestinians on secret information indefinitely.

Sign the petition:

Tell Bill Gates to divest from Israel’s prison torture

Thu, 03/04/2014 - 1:02pm

Sign the petition here:

British private security company G4S helps the Israeli government to run prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners are detained.


Right now, there are more than 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, including 183 children. Human rights organisations have documented widespread torture, including of children, and Palestinians are often held without trial indefinitely.

In June 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world, purchased shares in G4S worth $172m, making it one of the company’s biggest shareholders.

Through its holdings in G4S, the Gates Foundation is legitimising and profiting from Israel’s use of torture, mass incarceration and arbitrary arrest to discourage Palestinians from opposing Israel’s apartheid policies.

Sign the petition now: Tell Bill Gates to divest from G4S!

Please share widely using #StopG4S

More info:

Open letter to Bill Gates from Palestinian organisations
Call to action signed by 100 organisations from across the world
Fact sheet on G4S role in Israel’s prison system

US Efforts to Curb Freedom of Speech on Israel and Palestine are of Grave Concern

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 2:39pm

This statement was issued for Archbishop emeritus Tutu by Oryx Media

I am writing today to express grave concern about a wave of legislative measures in the United States aimed at punishing and intimidating those who speak their conscience and challenge the human rights violations endured by the Palestinian people. In legislatures in Maryland, New York, Illinois, Florida, and even the United States Congress, bills have been proposed that would either bar funding to academic associations or seek to malign those who have taken a stand against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.

These legislative efforts are in response to a growing international initiative, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, of which I have long been a supporter. The BDS movement emanates from a call for justice put out by the Palestinian people themselves. It is a Palestinian-led, international non-violent movement that seeks to force theIsraeli government to comply with international law in respect to its treatment of the Palestinian people.

I have supported this movement because it exerts pressure without violence on the State of Israel to create lasting peace for the citizens of Israel and Palestine, peace which most citizens crave. I have witnessed the systematic violence against and humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation and pain is all too familiar to us South Africans.

In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. My conscience compels me to stand with the Palestinians as they seek to use the same tactics of non-violence to further their efforts to end the oppression associated with the Israeli Occupation.

The legislations being proposed in the United States would have made participation in a movement like the one that ended Apartheid in South Africa extremely difficult.

I am also deeply troubled by the rhetoric associated with the promulgation of these bills which I understand, in the instance of Maryland, included testimony comparing the boycott to the actions of the Nazis in Germany. The Nazi Holocaust which resulted in the extermination of millions of Jews is a crime of monstrous proportions. To imply that it is in any way comparable to a nonviolent initiative diminishes the horrific nature of that genocidal and tragic era in our world history.

Whether used in South Africa, the US South, or India, boycotts have resulted in a transformative change that not only brought freedom and justice to the victims but also peace and reconciliation for the oppressors. I strongly oppose any piece of legislation meant to punish or deter individuals from pursuing this transformative aspiration. And I remain forever hopeful that, like the nonviolent efforts that have preceded it, the BDS movement will ultimately become a catalyst for honest peace and reconciliation for all our brothers and sisters, both Palestinian and Israeli, in the Holy Land.

Israel’s incompetent global campaign of “lawfare”

Wed, 02/04/2014 - 2:36pm

Protesters in Gaza call for the boycott of Israel. Israel is pushing back against such campaigns using courts around the world. (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

One year ago, the Israel lobby’s global strategy of “lawfare” suffered a significant defeat in a British court. A sprawling case against the University and College Union for “institutional anti-Semitism” was comprehensively blown away by an Employment Tribunal.

The 49-page ruling stated in no uncertain terms that the mammoth litigation was “devoid of any merit” and that such cases should never waste the time of the tribunals service again.

Although ostensibly championed by semi-retired maths teacher Ronnie Fraser and his tiny “Academic Friends of Israel” grouplet, the case was backed to the hilt by the UK’s diffuse network of pro-Israel lobbying organizations. The lobby was furious that its attempts to dissuade the UK’s trade unions from dropping the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction (BDS) Israel was unsuccessful.

But one year on, pro-Israel organizations around the world have not lost their taste for litigation.

With their case becoming more and more fanatical and right-wing, it is becoming more and more difficult for the lobby to win arguments. So Israel’s defenders are increasingly resorting to legal intimidation.

But how successful have such tactics been in shutting up Palestine solidarity campaigners?

With the end of the long-running war of lawyers against the University and College Union, the focus of Israel’s “lawfare” strategy has shifted to AustraliaFrance and a smattering of cases in the United States.


Two academic supporters of the boycott of Israel in Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies are being sued under Australian law designed to combat racist discrimination.

Their alleged infringement? Refusing to sponsor the application of an Israeli academic from Hebrew University for a fellowship, due to his position as a representative of an official Israeli institution. (Hebrew University’s Jerusalem campus is built on occupied Palestinian land, and the institution has deep links to the Israeli military.)

The case went to court in February. Lawyers for academic Jake Lynch have described it as full of “pumped-up claims,” and have called for the case to be thrown out due to lack of specifics.

The case is being pushed by Shurat Hadin, an Israeli “law center” which, as I have reported, has strong links to the Mossad, Israel’s foreign spy agency.

Reports on the case from last month hit a farcical note, with Shurat Hadin reportedly complaining in their claim of “racism” that “BDS deprived them and their wives of the chance to see Elvis Costello perform in Israel, after the singer cancelled a 2010 concert citing the boycott.”

According to the Guardian, Lynch’s lawyer in contrast argued based on the facts: “What are the primary facts that link these artists not performing in Israel with Jake’s conduct?”

Shurat Hadin’s lawyer argued that “one doesn’t have to plead out every element” of the case in court. But judge Alan Robertson reportedly sounded unconvinced, replying: “You’ll have to do a lot of work to persuade me of the correctness of that position.”

The case is expected to return to court on 24 April.


French courts have been a major venue for pro-Israel lawfare. In January, for example, a Paris court ruled that the French Palestine Solidarity Association (AFPS) could no longer use the words “illegal” or “fraudulent” to describe the “Made in Israel” labeling of products manufactured in Israeli settlements.

Writing for The Electronic Intifada, Adri Nieuwhof emphasizes that, even after the ruling, “nothing prevents BDS campaigners from stating that SodaStream’s products from Mishor Adumim are ‘illegitimate’ instead of ‘illegal.’”

Crucially, she emphasizes, “AFPS was not ordered to end its boycott campaign against SodaStream, but to remove specific claims from its website.”

Lawfare suffered a bigger setback in France’s highest criminal appeals court in November, which affirmed the earlier acquittal of an activist calling for the boycott of Israeli goods. Prosecutors had charged Olivia Zémor with “incitement to discrimination … [against] the Israeli nation” after her group posted online a video of a 2009 protest against Israeli goods in a supermarket.

The US

The most recent venue for lawfare has been the United States. A wave of recent votes by student and academic groups in favor of BDS has led to all kinds of spluttering legal threats.

After the American Studies Association in December voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israel, Shurat Hadin threatened to sue. The ASA responded that it would “not be intimidated,” and the Center for Constitutional Rights said the boycott represented “speech that is fully protected by the First Amendment” of the US Constitution.

Shurat Hadin has has yet to make good on its threat, but it seems it need not bother.

Since the ASA vote, there have been several measures aimed at punishing academics for their BDS stance which have been introduced in US state legislatures – and, at the urging of the Israeli ambassador to the US, in Congress.

The latest measure has been slipped into the budget of the state of Maryland, the Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah reported yesterday.

But the crude lawfare measures have been so hastily assembled, they are already facing problems – chiefly stemming from the fact that they are attempting to crush First Amendment-protected speech.

Yesterday, one such measure was defeated in committee in the Illinois state legislature.

While before the senate, the measure was slammed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which emphasized that such boycotts are constitutionally-protected free speech.


This slipshod manner of conducting lawfare and the very limited results it is bringing for Israel’s supporters is in some ways reminiscent of the Fraser vs. UCU debacle. That defeat was years in the making, and its repercussions are still being felt.

One powerful pro-Israel, anti-BDS British lawyer slammed the case as “a legal and public relations disaster,” conceding that that tribunal’s ruling had been “impeccably written and all too compelling.”

Princess Diana’s divorce lawyer Anthony Julius, who worked pro bono on the case for Fraser, seems to have kept a lower profile ever since. He has left his role as the chair of the Jewish Chronicle (which coincidentally, in its silly coverage, was Fraser’s greatest champion – until he lost).

Julius’s firm, Mishcon de Reya, has for years had strong links to the Israeli government. The firm was reported to be leading another lawfare case, that of Lt. Colonel (res.) Moty Cristal, an Israeli army negotiator, against the National Heath Service and Unison, the public sector union.

He brought the case to court in London in September, but little has been heard about it since.

Moty Cristal did not reply to an email asking whether the case had been quietly dropped.

The UK

The UK’s pro-Israel lobby emphasized that it was “liaising closely” with the Israeli government on Cristal’s case. But with the hash they made of the Fraser case, it seems possible the Israeli government decided its interests might be better served by more closely linked proxies such as Shurat Hadin and StandWithUs.

The latter is involved in the latest UK lawfare attack on King’s College London Students Union’s democratic vote in favor of BDS, as Hilary Aked reported for The Electronic Intifada yesterday.

But the Fraser case is still not closed. In November, the UCU took Fraser back to courtin order to recover its legal costs – which I imagine are extensive.

Bookstore in Milwaukee responds to BDS Call

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 1:38pm

The following statement was published on the website of the  People’s Books Cooperative in Milwaukee

The People’s Books Cooperative in Milwaukee, Wisconsin recently decided to engage in a consumer and cultural boycott of Israel.  See their statement on their website.

“People’s Books Co-op has voted to join the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel, instituting a consumer, cultural and academic boycott of the Israeli state due to significant human rights concerns involved with Israel’s policies against the Palestinian community. [read more]”

Letters of support to the Bookstore can be made here:
Or emailed to their general email:

35 MEPs call for EU action against corporate complicity

Tue, 01/04/2014 - 1:26pm

In a letter sent to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, 35 members of the European Parliament have called EEAS (European External Action Service) to take action to discourage European businesses from doing business with illegal Israeli settlements.

Private european businesses play a major role in funding, facilitating and supporting Israeli violations of international law and illegal Israeli settlements by:

  •  providing products and services that facilitate the existence of illegal settlements

  • importing and selling goods produces by companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements

  • investing in settlement companies and projects

In their letter to Ashton 35 Members of the European Parliament stated that:

“There are several examples of the many ways in which European businesses contribute to the existence and expansion of the settlements. Through their activities, they make direct and on-going contributions to Israeli violations of international law and to human rights abuses associated with the settlements.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which were endorsed by the EU, make it clear that governments have an obligation to ensure that businesses domiciled in their territory do not contribute to human rights abuses in their overseas operations, including by providing advice and guidance. In cases where businesses are operating in conflict areas, the Guiding Principles urge governments to provide “adequate assistance to business enterprises to assess and address the heightened risks of abuses”.

We urge the EEAS to publish guidance discouraging European firms from maintaining economic relations with the settlements. Furthermore, the EU should use its presence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to educate European businesses about the problems and risks associated with such relations and to encourage Member States to take similar action.

Read the full letter here

Divestment wins again at Loyola, goes down fighting in Michigan

Wed, 26/03/2014 - 2:33pm

Hundreds of students packed the University of Michigan student government meeting for last night’s divestment vote. (@ThatAlgerian/Twitter)

After an intense, hours-long debate, watched by thousands of people, the University of Michigan student government last night defeated a motion calling for divestment from companies profiting from Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.

Just hours earlier, the student government at Loyola University Chicago passed a divestment bill for the second time, following a heated debate that pro-Israel students had demanded.

In the United Kingdom, the membership of the King’s College London Student Union also passed a motion last night supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) by 348-252.

The motion calls, among other things, for the boycott of “products, companies and institutions that profit from or are implicated in, the violation of Palestinian rights” and for divestment from “corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights.”

The King’s College London administration issued a statement affirming that the college “does not support or engage in boycotts of academic institutions” and emphasizing that the student union “is constitutionally separate from, and independent of, King’s College London.”

Record turnout at Michigan

The Michigan vote – taken by secret ballot – was not close: nine student representatives voted for the divestment bill, while 25 opposed it and five abstained.

But the vote came after another night of extraordinary scenes and record turnout and mobilization by supporters of divestment at the university’s Ann Arbor campus.

Last night’s vote by the Central Student Government (CSG) followed a week-long sit-inby members of (Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) and their supporters at the CSG offices.

The sit-in was to protest an 18 March decision by the CSG to “indefinitely postpone”consideration of the divestment bill.

Last night’s CSG meeting was once again held at a massive ballroom in the Michigan Union building packed to capacity with an estimated 500 people.

With hundreds more watching by video in overflow rooms and a video livestream that had at one point more than 2,000 viewers, representatives acknowledged it as the largest such meeting they had ever witnessed.

While the CSG voted to reverse its decision not to consider divestment, the deck was stacked against divestment supporters, despite dozens of speeches for and against.

History professor Victor Lieberman was allowed to give a lengthy speech, which journalist Max Blumenthal, who was present at the meeting, called “a shockingly Israelicentric history of ‘the conflict’ ” that “tell[s] Palestinians their own history.”

CSG vice president Bobby Dishell gave an impassioned speech claiming that there had been threats of violence and invoking the Holocaust and Nazi violence against Jews to tar supporters of divestment. Dishell has previously spoken to the Israel lobby group AIPAC.

CSG president Michael Proppe was more reserved but said he didn’t think there was a “consensus” for divestment.

No student government executives spoke for the motion.

The divestment resolution itself was ably presented by University of Michigan students Suha Najjar, Bayan Founas, Yazan Kherallah and Farah Erzouki, who, with the help of law student Andrew Dalack, fielded questions from representatives before the vote.

Following the defeat of the divestment bill, students rallied outside the union.  Loyola wins again

Hours earlier, students at Loyola University Chicago celebrated their second win for a divestment bill in their student government. Sami Kishawi has the story at his blogSixteen Minutes to Palestine:

Loyola University Chicago’s student senate has passed a divestment resolution for the second time Tuesday evening.

Twelve senators voted in favor of the divestment bill, ten voted against, and nine abstained.

One week ago, campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) introduced a bill that urged the university to divest from corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. (Read our coverage here.)

The resolution initially passed on Mar. 18 with 26 student government senators voting in favor of the bill, zero voting against, and two choosing to abstain.

However, students opposed to the divestment measure pressured the student government into reconsidering the senate’s decision on the bill. A hearing, to be followed by a revote, was promptly scheduled for the following Tuesday, Mar. 25.

The second vote was preceded by almost five hours of discussion and debate. Campus police were stationed at all possible entrances into the discussion room and attendees were requested to turn off their WiFi connections and to shut down their electronics, including phones and laptops.

The tense atmosphere culminated with the final vote shortly before 9 pm. The results of the revote mark the second time SJP’s proposed bill has been passed by the student senate.

The divestment bill must be passed by another branch of the student government before it can be put into effect.