Friday, April 30, 2010

University students commit to sweeping boycotts

Published Wednesday 28/04/2010 (updated) 29/04/2010 19:50

Bethlehem - Ma'an - In anticipation of Nakba commemoration day next month, Palestinian student and youth groups across the West Bank and Gaza signed a memorandum enacting a massive boycott of Israeli products and programs.

The document calls for a halt to any activities that could normalize relations between Palestine and Israel.

"Economic, political, cultural and institutional normalization legitimize Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people by giving the appearance of normalcy to the relationship between oppressor and oppressed. This relationship is hardly one between equals as Israel continues to violate our inalienable rights, steal our land, and prevent refugees from our right of return in contravention of international law and numerous UN resolutions," a statement from the student groups said.

The memorandum went on to describe a series of measures the students intended to apply on or before 15 May, when Palestinians commemorate the 1948 expulsion of hundreds of thousands from their homes that lead to the declaration of an Israeli state.

More than list the elements of the boycott, the students asserted "our right to resist Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people through all forms of resistance and in accordance to international law, including forms of civil resistance such as demonstrations, sits-ins and, boycotts of Israel."

The students declared adherence to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BDS) and said they would reject "any Israeli-Palestinian meetings that do not recognize our inalienable rights, and explicitly aim to resist Israel's occupation, colonization and apartheid."

The student statement said the participating groups would "refuse to take part in whitewashing Israel's public image," and that "meetings that are not committed to such principles give a false picture of equality between the two parties by ignoring and legitimizing Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people."

The petition was endorsed by the following university councils:

Birzeit University's student council
An-Najah University's student council and the majority of student blocks on campus
Hebron University's student council
Bethlehem University's student council
Arab American University in Jenin' student council
Al-Quds University's student council
Palestine Technical College's student council -Aroub
Al-Quds Open University's student council-Tulkarem
Al-Quds Open University's student council-Qalqiliya
Palestine Technical College's student council - Khadouri
The Palestinian Student Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
Progressive Student Union Bloc-Gaza
Fateh Youth Organization- Gaza
Progressive Student Labor Front-Gaza
Islamic Bloc-Gaza

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UC divestment spreads – UC San Diego to vote on bill tomorrow

Mondoweiss On April 27, 2010
In The News, Op-Ed, Uncategorized, By ucsddivest by Adam Horowitz on April 27, 2010

UC San Diego will be joining Berkeley in holding a vote on divestment tomorrow evening. The San Diego bill under consideration is slightly different, and organizers seem to have learned from some of Berkeley’s challenges. From the UC San Diego newspaper The Guardian:
The resolution was drafted by members of several campus organizations — including Students for Justice in Palestine and the Student Sustainability Collective — and approved by Transfer Senator Adam Powers and Campuswide Senator Desiree Prevo. According to Associate Vice President of Enterprise Operations Rishi Ghosh — a co-sponsor of the resolution — the council was inspired by a similar effort at UC Berkeley, where the resolution passed 16-4 in the student Senate, but was eventually vetoed by Berkeley A.S. President Will Smelko.

The resolution calls for the UC system to stop investing in companies such as General Electric and United Technologies, which supporters of the resolution claim promote violence by providing technology — such as helicopters and aircraft engines — to warring countries around the world.

Sixth College senior Leena Barakat — who helped draft the resolution — said the UCSD version was altered to ensure that it condemned human-rights violations as a whole, and not specifically actions taken by the state of Israel.

Of course pro-Israel students and organizations are attacking the effort, and some of their arguments seem especially desperate – including comparing United Nations documentation of human rights abuses in Gaza to Holocaust denial (huh?!). Again from The Guardian:
A.S. Engineering Senator Adi Singer — a member of the pro-Israel community and creator of the Facebook group “Students Against ASUCSD Anti-Israel Bias and Resolutions” — said the resolution is a pointed attack against Israel.

“It’s a very thinly veiled political statement,” Singer said. “If it’s about all human-rights violations, why are there a ton of citings specifically about Gaza and very few about anywhere else?”

Although Ghosh said the resolution has received endorsements from groups such as Jewish Voices for the Peace and that information in the resolution regarding companies profiting from occupancy was provided by the United Nations, Singer maintained that the draft is biased.

“My main issue with this is that it’s very one-sided,” Singer said. “It’s not hard to find news sources that support your point of view. I can go on the Internet right now and find tons of sources that say that the Holocaust never happened.”

She added that the resolution would be detrimental to relations between Israeli and Palestinian interest groups on campus.

“Say what you want about it — the intent is clear,” she said. “The pro-Israel community has been trying really hard to build relations with the pro-Palestine community, and we would never bring up a resolution against Hamas.”

Tritons for Israel President Dafna Barzilay said it is not the council’s place to pass resolutions pertaining to international issues.

“We don’t support any such resolutions, even if it was pro-Israel or anti-Hamas,” she said. “It’s not the business of A.S. to support international problems that require that scale of spending and is not directly related to the university.”

In contrast, Ghosh said it is the council’s duty to be aware of global issues.

“If they believe that, why weren’t they there when we passed a resolution to support Haiti with allocations?” he asked. “Why weren’t they in the past, when we’ve been fighting for human rights in Sudan, fair trade in Africa?”

He said the resolution is meant to be a politically-neutral gesture.

“It is not anti-Israel,” he said. “Israel was very cleverly kept out of it.”

You can learn more about the UC San Diego effort, and what you can do to help, at their website UCSD Divest For Peace.

Boycott and Divestment program

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gil Scott Heron cancels Israel gig

Sunday, 25 April 2010 09:56 Written by James Meadway 

Gil Scott-Heron, whose political poetry influenced a generation of rap artists, last night sensationally announed the cancellation of his planned gig in Tel Aviv.

Speaking on-stage at London's Royal Festival Hall, Scott-Heron told the audience he "hated war" and, in a lengthy monolougue, told the packed audience his Israel tour date would not be going ahead. His concert had earlier been disrupted by fans dismayed at the booking, repeatedly heckling the performer and asking him to cancel. Security was called and audience members threatened with removal. A Facebook page was set up to urge the legendary perfomer against going ahead with his Israel appearance.

It stated "This is a huge mistake from an enduring cultural and political hero. Let's see if we can change his mind."

Over one thousand people have joined the page.

Scott-Heron is perhaps best-known for the classic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, and was a leading voice in calling for the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, joining United Artist Against Apartheid in the 1980s.

His sharply political songs have provided a space for his own militant, anti-racist politics.

With Palestinian artists and musicians calling for a cultural boycott of Israel, campaigners were deeply saddened by Scott-Heron's apparent decision to play a high-profile gig there.

"Gil Scott-Heron's music has always been about fighting racism," said protestor Sara el-Sheekh.

"But Palestinians daily face the most terrible oppression from the Israeli occupation ≠ easily comparable to apartheid in South Africa. Musicians and artists should not be giving this apartheid state any legitimacy."

It's great news that this date has been cancelled. Scott-Heron was cheered and applauded when he made his announcement."

Campaigners have vowed to continue the fight for a cultural boycott of Isra

Monday, April 19, 2010

Irish Trade Union solidarity with Palestine (thanks, Sheila)

April 18, 2010
Irish Trade Union solidarity with Palestine.

"It's rare that we can be so unequivocally positive about something when talking about Palestine, but this conference has helped move Palestine solidarity to a new level in the unions."

On Friday there was one of the most significant events yet in Palestinian solidarity work in Ireland. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions held a conference on Palestine/Israel and on how to build solidarity links. It was reported and attacked in the media and, in a nutshell, it was a very successful conference -- one that will lay the basis of future union campaigning on Palestine. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the implementation of the 2009 ICTU resolution which called for a comprehensive boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel

The main success lay in it being held the way it was -- with senior leaders from all major Irish unions present, and the fact it took place in Dublin Castle, a venue which was donated by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs for the event. All of this signalled the seriousness with which this boycott campaign is held by ICTU and associated unions and their determination to place it centre stage. This display of unity was no mean feat. After 20 years of partnership arrangements with the government, Irish unions are in turmoil. The recent economic collapse has led to the government and private sector implementing brutal wage cuts, recruitment freezes and job losses. While there is considerable disagreements among union leaders on how to respond to this attack on working people, there were no serious disagreements in Dublin Castle on Friday -- Palestine is clearly an issue on which Irish trade unionists can unite.

The morning session was opened by Jack O'Connor, president of ICTU, followed by Micheal Martin, our minister of Foreign Affairs. While Martin expressed (very politely) his disagreement with boycott, he did say that he also opposed upgrading Israel's relationship with the EU. This of course raises Ireland's position with regard to Israel acceding to the OECD, with many speakers saying that the trade unions should use their position to persuade our government to veto Israeli membership of the OECD.

The highlight of the morning session was Patricia McKeown, previous president of ICTU. In her speech she outline the reasons for boycotting Israel, talked of the ICTU trip to Palestine and sharply criticised the Histadrut -- a speech which received a standing ovation. We also had Michael Letwin of US Labor for Palestine (and IJAN) effectively rebutting the US Jewish Labour Committee who gave an anti-boycott position.

The highlight of the afternoon was undoubtedly the speech by the Histadrut representative -- Avital Shapira-Shabirow. While the IPSC fully supports the BNC and PGFTU position of boycotting the Histadrut, I have to admit that we were delighted with Avital and her speech. She perfectly encapsulated the arrogance and contempt with which Israelis hold those that they disagree with. Within the first two minutes she raised the accusation of anti--Semitism and after that, in a speech that parroted the Israeli embassy's statement on the conference, it was all downhill for her, uphill for us.

In fact she accused ICTU of being linked in with that notoriously radical group -- the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign -- an attack that immediately made us the most popular people in the room. She then advised everybody to look at our website -- (†by the way). I have to admit I felt a bit nervous here, wondering what we'd be accused of. Well she accused us of. . . (drumroll). . . supporting the right of return for Palestinians. Seriously, this was her accusation -- supporting the right of return. She then went on to claim that supporting this basic human right for Palestinians meant supporting Hamas. This smear might wash in the US but was greeted with incredulity and frank derision by the conference. It got better -- to prove how justified the Israelis were in massacring Gazans in 2009, she showed a video of a British general who praised Israel's conduct -- a general who as part of his credentials proudly boasted of having served in Northern Ireland. This to a room, about a third of whom came from the North. You couldn't make it up.

The Histadrut was followed by Omar Barghouti of PACBI and Raed Sadeq of the Democracy and Worker's Right Center in Palestine, both of whom spoke effectively about boycott, and shredded the Histadrut argument that they are 'the best friend of the Palestinian people'. While it was a shame that all the international trade union representatives from PGFTU, COSATU, Scottish TUC and TUC couldn't come as a result of the volcano (and an aside -- why is there no conspiracy theorising about the Icelandic volcano yet -- don't these people care any more?), the Palestinian speakers who made it were very happy with the conference. When I was speaking at one stage to Raed Sadeq there were literally tears of joy in his eyes because of the level of solidarity for Palestine expressed in the conference. The task of course is to move beyond expressing solidarity to practicing it, and from what I saw yesterday, there is a serious intention in ICTU to do it.

The real value of the conference lay in the networking and liaising outside the conference room. The IPSC line is that unions should first and foremost inform and divest -- inform their members of the boycott line, and divest from Israeli companies, CRH and Veolia. The trade unionists received this message very positively, and it is our intention to follow up on this. Everyone who made this conference happen -- especially Trade Union Friends of Palestine who helped drive the process -- deserves the highest praise. It's rare that we can be so unequivocally positive about something when talking about Palestine, but this conference has helped move Palestine solidarity to a new level in the unions.

Posted by David L @ 1:41 PM†

Thursday, April 1, 2010

U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel

U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel
Published: March 9, 2010Posted in: News- The Feminist Issue

While there are many Israeli and multinational companies that benefit from apartheid, we put together this list to highlight ten specific companies to target.  Many of these produce goods in such a way that directly harms Palestinians by exploiting labor, developing technology for military operations, or supplying equipment for illegal settlements.  Many are also the targets of boycotts for other reasons, like harming the environment and labor violations.


This brand’s cosmetics are produced using salt, minerals, and mud from the Dead Sea, in particular, natural resources that are excavated from the occupied West Bank. The products themselves are manufactured in the illegal Israeli settlement Mitzpe Shalem.

2. Delta Galil Industries

Israel’s largest textiles manufacturer provides clothing and underwear for such popular brands as Gap, J-Crew, J.C. Penny, Calvin Klein, Playtex, Victoria’s Secret (see #10) and many others. Its founder and chairman Dov Lautman is a close associate of former Israeli President Ehud Barak.

3. Motorola

Motorola components are also used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or ‘drones’) and in communications and surveillance systems used in settlements, checkpoints, and along the 490 mile apartheid wall.  See ‘Hang up the Motorola’ campaign.

4. L’Oreal / The Body Shop

This company is known for its investments and manufacturing activities in Israel, including production in Migdal Haemek, the “Silicon Valley” of Israel built on the land of Palestinian village Al-Mujaydil, which was ethnically cleansed in 1948.

5. Dorot Garlic and Herbs

These frozen herbs that are sold at Trader Joe’s are shipped halfway around the world when they could easily be purchased locally. Trader Joe’s also sells Israeli Cous Cous and Pastures of Eden feta cheese that are made in Israel.

6. Estee Lauder

Chairman Ronald Lauder is also the chairman of the Jewish National Fund, a quasi-governmental organization that was established in 1901 to acquire Palestinian land and is connected to the continued building of illegal settlements. Estee Lauder’s popular brands include Clinique, MAC, Origins, Bumble & Bumble, Aveda, fragrance lines for top designers.

7. Intel

Intel employs thousands of Israelis and has exports from Israel totaling over $1 billion per year. They are one of Israel’s oldest foreign supporters, having established their first development center outside of the US in 1974 in Haifa.

8. Sabra

This brand of hummus, baba ghanoush and other foods is co-owned by Israel’s second-largest food company The Strauss Group and Pepsico. On the “Corporate Responsibility” section of its website, The Strauss Group boasts of its relationship to the Israeli Army, offering food products and political support.

9. Sara Lee

Sara Lee holds a 30% stake in Delta Galil (see #2) and is the world’s largest clothing manufacturer, which owns or is affiliated with such brands as Hanes, Playtex, Champion, Leggs, Sara Lee Bakery, Ball Park hotdogs, Wonderbra, and many others. Similar to L’Oreal (see #4)

10. Victoria’s Secret

Most of Victoria’s Secret’s bras are produced by Delta Galil (see #2), and much of the cotton is also grown in Israel on confiscated Palestinian land. Victoria’s Secret has also been the target of labor rights’ groups for sourcing products from companies with labor violations.

Remember, it’s also important to let these companies and the stores that sell them know that we will not support them as long as they support Israeli apartheid!


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