Posts Tagged ‘Boycott Divestment and Sanctions’

(Image by BDS Movement: bdsmovement.net)

(Image by BDS Movement: bdsmovement.net)

The Hussam Association, a Gaza, Palestine-based society of current and former Palestinian detainees, e-mailed this statement calling for legal action against British-Danish security firm G4S, which holds contracts in Israeli prisons and checkpoints.

حسام تطالب بمقاضاة شركة G4s البريطانية

طالبت جمعية الأسرى والمحررين “حسام” الهيئات والمنظمات الحقوقية المحلية والدولية بالعمل علي مقاضاة شركة G4S البريطانية ، والتي تشرف على منظومات أمن سجون الاحتلال الصهيوني التي يقبع فيها الأسرى الفلسطينيين والعرب .

 وأكدت الجمعية على أنها ستعمد في المستقبل القريب إلى توجيه نداءات إلى المؤسسات الحقوقية الدولية والجهات الرسمية في دول عربية وأوروبية لمطالبتهم باتخاذ الإجراءات اللازمة لتقديم مسؤولي هذه الشركة للقضاء الدولي بسبب تورطها في ارتكاب جرائم حرب وجرائم ضد الإنسانية بحق الأسرى الفلسطينيين .

وقالت الجمعية بأنها ستتعاون مع بعض المؤسسات الحقوقية المحلية والدولية  لفضح هذه الشركة وزيادة الوعي المحلي والدولي عن تورطها في تعذيب الأسرى الفلسطينيين عبر تزويدها للإحتلال بأنظمة أمن وغرف مراقبة مركزية في سجون النقب ومجدو والدامون وريمون وغيرها من السجون الإسرائيلية التي تضم خلف أسوارها أكثر من 5000 أسير فلسطيني من الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة والقدس والأراضي المحتلة عام 1948 .

 وأضافت الجمعية بأن الشركة قامت أيضا بتركيب أنظمة دفاع على الجدران المحيطة بسجن “عوفر” بالضفة الغربية ، كما أنها تدير غرفة التحكم المركزية للمجمع الذي يضم محكمة عوفر العسكرية التي تحاكم المعتقلين الفلسطينيين من الضفة الغربية يوميا بأحكام قاسية وتعسفية .

وأكدت الجمعية بأن الشركة المذكورة توفر أنظمة أمن مرافق الاحتجاز والاستجواب في العديد من مراكز التحقيق والاعتقال الإسرائيلية، حيث يواجه الأسرى الفلسطينيين عادة في هذه المراكز مختلف أساليب التحقيق التي ترتكز علي أشكال تعذيب جسدي ونفسي شديدة القسوة الأمر الذي أدى إلي استشهاد العشرات من الأسرى الفلسطينيين منذ بداية الإحتلال .

“He who oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to want.” Proverbs 22:16 (RSV)

Congregants prepare frond crosses for Palm Sunday in the Church of Saint Porphyrius, Gaza, Palestine

Congregants prepare frond crosses for Palm Sunday in the Church of Saint Porphyrius, Gaza, Palestine (Photo: Joe Catron)

As delegates to the United Methodist Church’s General Conference 2012 debate whether it is good and proper for their tithes and offering to sustain military contractors directly responsible for the subjugation, displacement, and killing of their fellow human beings in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and elsewhere, perhaps some will benefit from Wesley’s thoughts on the divestment struggle of his day:

Where is the justice of inflicting the severest evils on those that have done us no wrong? of depriving those that never injured us in word or deed, of every comfort of life? of tearing them from their native country, and depriving them of liberty itself … ?

You stumble at the threshold; I deny that villany is ever necessary. It is impossible that it should ever be necessary for any reasonable creature to violate all the laws of justice, mercy, and truth …

“Why, it is necessary to my gaining an hundred thousand pounds.” Perhaps so: But how is this necessary? It is very possible you might be both a better and a happier man, if you had not a quarter of it. I deny that your gaining one thousand is necessary either to your present or eternal happiness …

Better no trade, than trade procured by villany. It is far better to have no wealth, than to gain wealth at the expense of virtue. Better is honest poverty, than all the riches bought by the tears, and sweat, and blood, of our fellow-creatures.

John Wesley, “Thoughts upon Slavery” (1774)

Having spent most of my life in Hopewell, Virginia’s Wesley United Methodist Church before joining an Episcopal church in New York (and attending Gaza’s Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrius today), I struggle to explain to my Palestinian friends of multiple faiths why American Christians traffic so cheaply in their tears, and sweat, and blood. Make me proud, UMC. Wesley’s vision was broad, comprehensive, and demanding:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

By comparison, this one’s practically a freebie. You face a simple question: Should a Christian denomination fund the infliction of misery and death on other people? Please don’t get the answer wrong.

Desmond Tutu knows it from experience. The Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and veteran leader of his own country’s anti-apartheid movement has entered the debate with an impassioned appeal calling church divestment from occupation profiteers “a moral position that I have no choice but to support, especially since I know of the effect that Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions had on the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

 

An earlier, oft-quoted statement by His Grace might also shed some light:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

Another saint of the modern church, Martin Luther King Jr., similarly said:

I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.

23 January 2012 | US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

A collective of students in Gaza has formed the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI). These students are seeking to expand their collaboration and participation in events and activities with solidarity activists at international universities.

PSCABI members participate in many activities here in Gaza and are heavily involved in supporting the international student solidarity movements, especially with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns. PSCABI members frequently write letters out of Gaza, some of which we have listed below, encouraging people to participate in the boycott and thanking people who have supported the Palestinian cause.

PSCABI members are available to share ideas, participate via Skype or other technology in remote events, organize and strategize together, hear about your activities and provide information and narratives as Palestinian university students for your distribution, and provide access to voices speaking directly from besieged Gaza.

If you are interested in:

  • communicating with PSCABI
  • hosting a Skype conference with a PSCABI member
  • developing your organization’s relationship with PSCABI

please contact us at pscabi@usacbi.org.

Past Letters from PSCABI:

Only days after the European Union’s top diplomats in Jerusalem and Ramallah publicly condemned Israel’s continued settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian West Bank and called for state-level boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against it, the EU itself drew attention for funding one of the most notorious settlement enterprises.

On Tuesday The Independent published a letter from an impressive list of 21 British scientists and public figures, including filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. They wrote:

It is extraordinary, but true, that one of our great national museums is co-ordinating an activity that breaks international law. That museum is the Natural History Museum, which is collaborating in research with an Israeli commercial firm located in an illegal settlement in the Palestinian West Bank.

The firm is Ahava/Dead Sea Laboratories, whose business is manufacturing cosmetics out of mud, which it excavates from the banks of the Dead Sea. Ahava/DSL is located at Mitzpe Shalem, a settlement 10km beyond the Green Line. The collaboration with the Museum is through an EU-funded project called Nanoretox, in which Kings College London, Imperial College and a number of foreign institutions are also involved. The museum is the coordinating partner for this project.

Ahava/DSL is based on occupied territory. It extracts, processes and exports Palestinian resources to generate profits that fund an illegal settlement. Israel’s settlement project has been held by the International Court of Justice to break international law. Organisations which aid and abet this process may well themselves be found to be in violation. We find it almost inconceivable that a national institution of the status of the Natural History Museum should have put itself in this position.

We call on the museum to take immediate steps to terminate its involvement in Nanoretox and to establish safeguards that protect against any comparable entanglement.

Following The Independent’s own story on the letter, coverage grew quickly. Articles have appeared in media ranging from Reuters and Press TV to Haaretz, The Jewish Chronicle, and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, to say nothing of concerned grumbling from the The Jerusalem Post.

While the initial letter targeted the Natural History Museum, the scientific press quickly focused on Nanoretox’s EU funding. Nature reported Thursday:

“I believe that the EU should not be allowed to fund companies that breach international law and so I have asked the commission to revise its research-funding regulations so that participating laboratories must declare the location of their research in order that, where that location is illegal, EU funding can be withheld,” says Keith Taylor, a British Green Party member of the European Parliament, who raised the questions about Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories in June 2011.

A spokesperson for the European Commission declined to comment on whether it would consider such changes in its next Framework Programme, called Horizon 2020. But in response to another question from Taylor, the Commission said on 13 September 2011 that it was “scrutinizing options to be able to evaluate and potentially address such a situation” under Horizon 2020.

Bateson says that Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories should not be eligible for Horizon 2020 funding as long as it continues to operate in the West Bank. “The initial mistake was at Brussels. They shouldn’t have allowed this to go ahead,” he says.

ScienceInsider wrote on the same day:

Ahava/DSL is involved in two other projects funded by Framework Programme 7, the main source of E.U. research funding. Last summer, research Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn responded to a query from the European Parliament about the company’s involvement in projects by saying that the company “is formally established within the borders of the internationally recognised State of Israel,” so that it meets the commission’s participation criteria. E.U. rules don’t stipulate that the research has to be carried out where the company is formally established, she added.

Jonathan Rosenhead, an emeritus professor of operational research at the London School of Economics who helped organize the letter, says he spoke with commission officials last year who were “clearly unaware” that the company had its operations in a settlement. “My guess and hope is that they tighten up their procedures” for the next major funding program, called Horizon 2020, which will start in 2014. A commission official says “the commission is currently scrutinizing options” to evaluate participants in Horizon 2020.

All of which raises an interesting question. With representatives of the EU’s own member states “call[ing] on the European commission to consider legislation ‘to prevent/discourage financial transactions in support of settlement activity’ … based on their illegality under international law,”  can the same body possibly attempt to justify direct funding for the pillaging of Palestinian resources by those same illegal settlements – even until 2014?

Meanwhile the Stolen Beauty campaign, part of the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, continues to win impressive victories against Ahava. And considering the EU’s shady history of collaboration with Israeli apartheid, it is all but certain that only pressure from civil society can force it into any positive role – even in the face of unequivocal war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Grassroots pressure from the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon forced Belgian-Italian singer Lara Fabian to cancel February 14 and 15 performances at Jounieh’s Casino du Liban, Al Akhbar English and NOW Lebanon announced Thursday.

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners targeted Fabian for her previous violations of the cultural boycott of Israel, and particularly her celebration of the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding, which entailed the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians. NOW Lebanon reports:

In May 2008, she performed at a special concert in France to commemorate the anniversary of the creation of the Israeli state. At the end of the performance, she can be heard telling the audience, “I love you, Israel.”

In response to the announcement, Asad Ghsoub, an activist for the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon, which spearheaded the campaign against Fabian said, “We can’t be but happy because she knows that what she did has consequences… She cannot say ‘I love you Israel’ and expect us to welcome her. She would be out of her mind if she thinks we’re going to welcome her.”

Ghsoub had told Al Akhbar Monday, “The 60th anniversary of Israel is the 60th anniversary of the Nakba so she is not neutral. Some people try to defend artists as neutral but she has crossed the line.”

Of his organization’s plans, “Ghsoub said the exact nature of the protests against the concerts were still being formulated, but added that the group is planning to meet with Lebanese ministers to encourage them to back the ban.”

While arguing against the boycott, Ayman Mhanna, executive director of the SKeyesCenter for Media and Cultural Freedom, admitted to NOW Lebanon that it has recently attracted broad support from Lebanese civil society:

Mhanna noted that recently, and for the first time, the effort to boycott Israel has received the support of political parties in the country. On December 13, the Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and several other parties signed a statement calling for the boycott of “all concerts, companies and troops supporting the Zionist enemy.”

“This shows how much culture itself is politicized… The political and sectarian debate is now automatically translating into to how people perceive a cultural work. People are no longer able to look at culture through an artistic perspective. Everything is through a political prism,” Mhanna said …

Ghsoub responded to critics who say the success of the Fabian boycott campaign is, in effect, a form of cultural censorship. “We are clearly against all forms of censorship,” he said. “As individuals we are socially liberal, open and progressive. We have nothing to do with censorship, and I think people who want to attack us, try to associate us with this, and we are completely against it. Israel is a state that is an enemy of Lebanon. And we are in a state of war… Can you imagine a pro-Hezbollah superstar singing in Tel Aviv?”

Nevertheless, Ghsoub left open the possibility of supporting a future performance by Fabian in Lebanon:

“She should reconsider her actions and join this global movement that many artists are joining. If she makes a statement at least distancing herself from Israel, we have no problem welcoming her next time. We’ll throw a red carpet down for her,” Ghsoub said.

Distinguished French philosopher Jacques Ranciére became the latest public figure to honor the academic and cultural boycott of Israel this week by cancelling an upcoming visit, which would have included a January 25 lecture at Tel Aviv University (TAU).

The Shpilman Photography Collection, a would-be sponsor of Ranciére’s visit, announced the cancellation on its Web site Tuesday.

Its post specified that “Ranciére announced he will postpone his visit following the Palestinian call to boycot Israeli institutions which do not officially support the Palestinian struggle against the occupation.”

It also included Ranciére’s message to Dr. Ariella Azoulay of TAU’s Minerva Humanities Center, another tour sponsor, announcing his decision in French. A very rough Google Translate version reads:

I accepted the invitation to contribute to the debate on the image of a research group whose work on the photograph is closely related to the reporting of violations of the Palestinian people since the birth of the State of Israel.

The intervention of a group dedicated to upholding by foreign researchers boycott of Israeli academic institutions has changed the meaning of the visit by making a public demonstration of rupture of the boycott, thus supporting the State responsible for these violations and the situation of oppression is maintained in which the Palestinian people.

I am personally opposed to collective punishment against all citizens of a State and in respect of its researchers, without taking into account their own attitude towards the policy of this State. I have neither respect nor to rape a decision to which I have not personally joined. But it appears that, in the present situation, the content of what I might say in response to the invitation that was sent to me has become completely secondary to the simple alternative, and it is not now for reasons of fatigue in my ability to respond satisfactorily to the dual requirement of the situation thus created.

I must therefore, by thanking the people who invited me and which I accepted the invitation, offer them to postpone the visit at a time when thinking about these issues has progressed and where I feel myself more able to give an answer politically and intellectually satisfying.

The “group dedicated to upholding by foreign researchers [of the] boycott of Israeli academic institutions” is presumably the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). On January 9 the organization wrote to Ranciére:

It has come to our attention at the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) that you will be giving a public lecture at the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University on 25 January 2012. If our information is correct, then we urge you in the strongest terms to cancel your visit to an institution that is complicit in maintaining a regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid. Tel Aviv University in particular is a full partner in maintaining the military and security infrastructure of the Israeli state, as outlined in two recent reports.

As a prominent global scholar, you are certainly aware that Israel has flouted international law for several decades.  Since the hegemonic world powers are actively complicit in enabling and perpetuating Israel’s colonial and oppressive policies, we believe that the only avenue open to achieving justice and upholding international law is sustained work on the part of Palestinian and international civil society to put pressure on Israel and its complicit institutions to end this oppression.

In 2004, inspired by the triumphant cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, and supported by key Palestinian unions and cultural groups, PACBI issued a call for the academic and cultural boycott of institutions involved in Israel’s occupation and apartheid. We wish, in this appeal to you, to stress the importance of this Palestinian call; to underscore the rationale for the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, of which PACBI is a member; and to urge you to respect the Palestinian call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel …

Ranciére’s decision follows a year of growing support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement from academic figures, institutions, and organizations including South Africa’s University of Johannesburg, the United Kingdom’s University and College Union, and Canada’s National Campus and Community Radio Association, as well as numerous artists and performers.

UPDATE: French BDS activists from several Palestine solidarity organizations have released a statement hailing Ranciére’s cancellation. Again via Google Translate:

Jacques Rancière, political philosopher and a prominent intellectual, professor emeritus at the University of Paris 8, was recently invited to the University of Tel Aviv, Israel, to give a public lecture. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) immediately asked him to cancel the conference.

Jacques Rancière, like us, is “opposed to collective punishment against all citizens of a State and in respect of its researchers.” The PACBI as the Collective Palestine Paris 8, and the AURDIP France BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israeli apartheid), does not condemn the dialogue between intellectuals of all countries, including Israel. We acknowledge, however, the University of Tel Aviv as all other Israeli universities, of complicity with the segregationist policies of the Israeli state, but also with its policy of military occupation. We rise, therefore, against the possibility that the prestige of an intellectual as Jacques Rancière used to such an institution.

BDS France welcomes today that Jacques Rancière has heard our call and canceled his trip to Israel. This is the first victory of the year for the cultural and academic BDS France, we hope followed many more. Jacques Rancière joins a long line of intellectuals engaged on the side of justice and human rights, such as Eduardo Galeano, Arundhati Roy, Andre Brink, Naomi Klein, Augusto Boal, Vincenzo Consolo, Henning Mankell, John Berger and Judith Butler. We reiterate our opposition to them with all collaboration with Israeli academic and cultural institutions, as this country will not respect the Palestinians’ right: the right to their land, the right to return for refugees and the right be treated like any other.

BDS France
http://www.bdsfrance.org/

The AURDIP
http://www.aurdip.fr

The Collective Palestine Paris 8
http://www.cup-france.com/

A report sent to the European Union on Monday by its member countries’ top diplomats in Jerusalem and Ramallah proposes state-level boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel’s illegal colonial infrastructure in the occupied West Bank. These recommendations, unprecedented among Western nations, herald a breakthrough for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Like most efforts opposing only the West Bank settlements, they appear somewhat myopic about the state policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid that stand squarely behind settlers’ walls and guns, while also denying refugees their homes and Palestinian citizens of Israel equality under its laws. But high-level backing for even modest steps can afford many new opportunities. The Independent reports:

The European Commission should consider passing legislation to prevent finance generated within its member states being used to support illegal Israeli settlements in occupied territory, the bloc’s top diplomats in Jerusalem and Ramallah have advised …

The finance recommendation has been worded with deliberate vagueness to maintain a consensus among sharply differing views within the EU. But the clear implication is that some of the European Consuls General – ambassador-rank representatives to the Palestinians – want the Commission to consider for the first time whether it has an obligation to legislate on the grounds that the settlements contravene international law.

Under one interpretation of the proposal, the Commission would use legislation to force companies in Europe to break their links with businesses involved in settlement construction and commercial activities. This follows some high-profile voluntary examples like that of Deutsche Bahn, which last year pulled out of electrification of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem rail link because it cut through the West Bank.

The Guardian says that the document

calls on the European commission to consider legislation “to prevent/discourage financial transactions in support of settlement activity”.

Legislation should prohibit trade and business with settlements based on their illegality under international law, rather than a politically-driven boycott, said one EU diplomatic source.

And Ynet panics:

The recommendations include the preparation of a “blacklist” of settlers considered violent, in order to later mull the option of banning them from entering the European Union. The document also seeks to encourage more PLO activity and representation in east Jerusalem.

Moreover, the European report advises senior EU figures visiting east Jerusalem to refrain from being escorted by official Israeli representatives or security personnel.

A Western diplomat told Ynet that the Europeans are well aware of the implications of the latest recommendations.

Talk is cheap, of course. But careful organizing and determined action by Palestinians and solidarity activists could make the next steps quicker and more comprehensive. Whatever we think of the two-state “solution” these proposals aim to bolster, they offer us a valuable new arsenal in the struggle against Israeli apartheid.

And speaking of a two-state resolution to Israel’s 63-year occupation of Palestinian land, and ongoing displacement and subjugation of its indigenous people, it appears that these same diplomats, many of whom have spent their lives pursuing it, are nearing despair as its infeasibility becomes undeniable. In an article provocatively entitled “EU on verge of abandoning hope for a viable Palestinian state,” The Independent says:

The Palestinian presence in the largest part of the occupied West Bank – has been, “continuously undermined” by Israel in ways that are “closing the window” on a two-state solution, according to an internal EU report seen by The Independent

With the number of Jewish settlers now at more than double the shrinking Palestinian population in the largely rural area, the report warns bluntly that, “if current trends are not stopped and reversed, the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders seem more remote than ever” …

The 16-page document is the EU’s starkest critique yet of how a combination of house and farm building demolitions; a prohibitive planning regime; relentless settlement expansion; the military’s separation barrier; obstacles to free movement; and denial of access to vital natural resources, including land and water, is eroding Palestinian tenure of the large tract of the West Bank on which hopes of a contiguous Palestinian state depend …

Area C is one of three zones allocated by the 1993 Oslo agreement. Area A includes major Palestinian cities, and is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Area B is under shared Israeli-Palestinian control.

Although Area C is the least populous, the report says “the window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing with the continued expansion of Israeli settlements and access restrictions for Palestinians in Area C [which] compromises crucial natural resources and land for the future demographic and economic growth of a viable Palestinian state”.

It says the EU needs “at a political” level to persuade Israel to redesignate Area C, but in the meantime it should “support Palestinian presence in, and development of the area”. The report says the destruction of homes, public buildings and workplaces result in “forced transfer of the native population” and that construction is effectively prohibited in 70 per cent of the land – and then in zones largely allocated to settlements of the Israeli military.

While predictably mincing words, the diplomats’ statements coincide with King Abdullah of Jordan, Israel’s last ally in the region, dropping the a-bomb to The Washington Post:

If we haven’t crossed that line, we’ll cross the line sooner or later where the two-state solution is no longer possible, at which point the only solution is the one-state solution. And then, are we talking about apartheid or democracy?

The French parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee also accused Israel of using water as “a weapon serving the new apartheid” two weeks ago. And all of this comes shortly after Israel’s public condemnation by every bloc of the United Nations Security Council – with the predictable exception of the United States – in December.

As the one-state reality seeps into the world’s consciousness, we can expect increasing numbers of Israel’s current allies to slowly inch – or, perhaps, quickly run – away from it. These developments offer a moment of opportunity, for Palestinians and all supporters of human equality. What can we do but try to make use of it?