Monday, May 24, 2010

Atwood protest begins Hudson Valley BDS

Margaret Atwood came to Bard College on Friday, May 21st to receive the Mary McCarthy award, after accepting the Dan David prize at Tel-Aviv University.  Bard was hosting the President's dinner and awards ceremony at Fisher Center.

The protest was at the intersection of Annandale Rd. and Manor Ave. (on Bard campus) from 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM. We had about 18 people and were gathered along the road leading to the Fisher Center.

Our first BDS meeting was held at Doris' House at the end of the Bard Protest. 15 of us have formally started the Hudson Valley BDS movement.

Please join us for future events that we will post on this website.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gonna Still Be Quoting Emerson When They Lock Me Up

Full article at:

Boycott? As my Palestinian friends in the West Bank and Gaza sink deeper into depression, watching their lives ticking away without the chance to give their kids (never mind themselves) a wholly free and dignified place in the sun, the Palestinian-led BDS movement   for boycott, divestment, and sanctions doesnít look to me like a nefarious ìArab plotî anymore. Now, with international energy behind it, it seems like the last best hopeóboth for Israelis and for Palestinians. Maybe the BDS campaign will really develop enough heft to counter Israelís overwhelming military advantage, by upping the economic and social cost of self-defeating supremacist-separatist policies . . . until even total equality for Palestinians might begin to seem like the less scary alternative!

Deciding to endorse BDS was not something I have come to out of hatred for Israel, despite what the talkbacks will say. I live here, after all; Iíd like to see this country get a life. Everything else has already been tried, and my friend Sam and his family are still locked up in Al Bireh and my friend Maha and her family are still locked up in Gaza City and I cannot, in good conscience, sit here in my pleasant little village near Jerusalem in silence and play it safe while they and millions of other Palestinians sit in their respective cages. Iím not an ideologue and I canít say I much like the basic idea of boycotts: they are nonviolent but they run on a kind of negative energy (donít buy, donít sell, donít invest, donít visit . . . ). On the other hand, the relentless, intensifying dehumanization of people I love and respect would seem to leave me no choice. Inaction is not an option.

Note that the BDS strategy targets, not Israel itself or Israelis as such, but rather Israeli transgressions of international law and the Israeli authorities and institutions that drive those transgressions and the Israeli cultural icons who refrain from denouncing them and the Israeli universities that cooperate with them. As a law-abiding Israeli, I am not in favor of Israelís (or anyoneís) transgressions of international law and therefore I must not support them with my silence. When I realized that the only thing still keeping me from publicly and prominently endorsing BDS was my fear of punishment (losing friends, losing a job, losing my personal freedom if the BDS activism here is finally, thoroughly, criminalized), I understood that it was time to speak out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day Two of Israeli Apartheid Week at UC Irvine.

The Tides Are Changing in Palestine and Israel

May 11, 2010

Day Two of Israeli Apartheid Week at UC Irvine.

As I sit on the steps, marked by flagpoles, waiting for the seminar to begin, I notice a group of people parading with their props towards this event. I notice that they are carrying American and Israeli flags as well as a yellow flag with the type, "Don't Tread On Me," in black and a graphic drawing of a curled up rattlesnake on it. Some of these people are wearing white t-shirts with, "United Against Terror," printed on it. They are also carrying posters with the picture of the 9/11 disaster; and, on these posters, "Americans Will Never Forget," is typed on it. As they walk by the billboards demonstration set-up of the Israeli/Palestine wall, many of these people took lots of photographs. By now, there is a large crowd accumulated for this outdoor seminar. I watch this group moving along in the crowd, and I notice their posters. One poster has, "Stop Bringing Hate To Our Community." One nervous-looking woman turns to me and says, "This is all lies," and she continues to take some snapshots of the billboard props used for the demonstration. After a male student introduces the seminar topic and reads a short scripture about Prophet Abraham, a man with the hostile group yells out, "Kiss my ass," toward the podium.

The guest speaker, Dr. Norman Finkelstein, is introduced to the audience before he walks up to the podium. He has a PHD from Princeton University. The hostile group booed him as he stood at the podium, getting ready to speak at the seminar.

He speaks about how to end the Palestine/Israel conflict in order to live in a peaceful and productive life there. He mentions the international law as well as there are four issues for peace. These issues have to do with Borders, Settlements, Refugees, and East Jerusalem, and they tend to be complicated. The first step is to decide on the legal status of the settlement, to whom East Jerusalem belongs to, and on negotiable ways to resolve the question of how to help the many Palestinians who were driven out from their homes. 

Furthermore, the World Court or International Court of Justice discussed the legal status of the wall that Israel put up, which includes the location of the wall as well as if the settlements were legal or not. Since the borders cannot be changed by force, all of the judges agreed that Israel's position is not legal, or even credible.

During Question and Answer session at the end of the seminar, some people with the hostile group asked questions about terrorism. Dr. Finkelstein talks about the Israeli soldiers dumping white phosphorus all over populated areas in Gaza, and this substance can reach up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. These soldiers regarded their work as similar to children's games, like playing "Playstation" or using a "magnifying glass to burn ants."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dear Margaret Atwood:

April 5, 2010
Margaret Atwood
c/o McClelland & Stewart
75 Sherbourne St., 5th Floor
Toronto, ON
M5A 2P9

Dear Margaret:

Back in 1981, I remember vividly that when the Toronto police raided several bathhouses and arrested 300 men, you agreed to speak out at a hastily arranged benefit — the first public figure to do so. Your courage meant a great deal to our gay community then, and your words were typically memorable: “Why on earth would the police object to cleanliness?”

I understand you’re going to Israel in May, to accept the Dan David Prize at Tel Aviv University. Will you find words for the Gaza students who wrote to you yesterday, 44 miles down the coast, asking you to refuse the prize? Will you mention the ongoing siege of Gaza, and the larger occupation, whose check points and security wall have reduced the region to an apartheid state? Will you mention the two unarmed teenagers Mohammed Qadas, 16, and Asaud Qadus, 19, who were shot by Israeli army snipers last week? His aunt says that Mohammed had gone out to buy ice-cream. Why on earth would the army object to ice-cream?

I write today as a fan, someone whose life was changed on reading A Handmaid’s Tale, someone who still treasures my rare edition of The Journals of Susanna Moodie. For decades, you’ve been an extraordinary role model for so many of us, embracing the role of artist as a figure of conscience. You’ve consistently spoken out against a host of injustices, even as you engaged with the complexities of each issue. In May, will you decline this prize, in recognition of the growing boycott movement which is trying to contribute to peace in the region? Will you at least speak out against the war crimes committed a year ago? Will you perhaps donate a portion to a writers group in Gaza? Will you at the very least acknowledge the complexities that this award, and this conflict, represent? Or will you remain silent, making us wonder: why on earth would Margaret Atwood of all people object to complexity?

John Greyson
Associate Professor (York), filmmaker

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Episcopal Peace Fellowship Announces

Episcopal Peace Fellowship Announces:

National Executive Council's Statement on Divestment, Boycott and Economic Sanctions as a means of Nonviolent Resistance
The National Executive Council of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship voted to endorse the enclosed statement with a vote of 8 yes, 2 no and 1 abstention.

"In response to the ongoing cycle of violence - including Palestinian terrorist bombings and the well documented military and economic violence of the government of Israel against Palestinians - that undermines negotiations and hope for an enduring peace- The NEC of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, in support of the principles of the Kairos Palestinian Document 4.2.6. endorses the application of divestment and an economic and commercial boycott of products linked to oppression of Palestinian people and occupation of their land. As peacemakers committed to nonviolent resolution of deep-seated conflicts, the National Executive Council joins a growing number of international and religious partners, including Jewish, Muslim, and Christian voices, who believe that economic sanctions can inspire a more useful dialog and negotiation towards a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Respect for the dignity of every human being, alongside a vision to put aside the violence of terrorism, oppression and military force is key to moving negotiations forward for a lasting peace for all involved.

The National Executive Council asks the Episcopal Peace Fellowship's Israel/Palestine Action Group to offer resources to our membership and the wider church on effective strategies for boycott, divestment, and sanction, including links to partner groups and educational resources on the history of the cycle of violence and obstacles to peace in Israel/Palestine. We are all the children of Abraham, let us no longer profit at the expense of the safety and security of one another. Instead let us end the violent cycle and build a circle of peace."

We ask a favor of you:  Please refer inquiries to our spokespersons from the NEC see above. Please distribute widely and send to your Diocese Communications officer. Suggestions for actions will follow in the coming weeks.

Episcopal Peace Fellowship

637 S. Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois  60605

Monday, May 10, 2010

Calling on Elton John

Palestinian civil society has called on Elton John to respect its boycott call and cancel his June 17th concert in Tel Aviv. If he does so, he'll be joining Santana and Gil-Scott Heron, who recently cancelled their spring concerts in Israel. This video suggests six reasons why Elton should join the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some of their ideas in the months ahead (thanks, Paul)

KUDOS to American Jews for a Just Peace.  What great, creative work!!  Read and enjoy.

PS: Perhaps, we could use some of their ideas in the months ahead.

-----Original Message-----
From: Marla Erlien
To: members talk ajjp
Sent: Tue, May 4, 2010 6:55 am
Subject: [Ajjpbusiness] Fwd: Boston Activists Disrupt Israeli Propaganda Event at Museum of Science

Boston Activists Disrupt Israeli Propaganda Event at Museum of Science
By:  BDS Activists, Boston, MA
Boston, MA, May 3, 2010 ‚Äì Local activists protested the so-called ‚ÄúIsraeli Innovation Weekend‚Äù (IIW) at the Museum of Science in Boston through multiple, disparate actions on Sunday. IIW‚Äôs sponsors, including the Consulate General of Israel to New England, were left flummoxed by the activists‚Äô efforts and largely unable to prevent their successful, multi-pronged disruption of the event.
Protesters targeted IIW because it was part of a state-sponsored campaign to ‚Äúgreenwash‚Äù Israel‚Äôs discriminatory, apartheid regime and atrocious human rights record.  IIW was officially sponsored by the Israeli Consulate, which also played a major role in funding and planning the event; nearly half of IIW‚Äôs steering committee was composed of Consulate staff and the Consulate was one of the top donors.
Throughout the day, protesters maintained a visible public presence outside the Museum.  Protesters held signs drawing attention to Israeli ‚Äúinnovation‚Äù in technologies of death such as white phosphorus and cluster bombs, parodying the exhibit‚Äôs slogan, ‚ÄúHealing the World Through Technology.‚Äù
Across the street from the Museum, demonstrators also prominently displayed a large Palestinian flag from the adjacent East Cambridge Lechmere Viaduct Bridge.  The protesters‚Äô message was seen by hundreds of Museum visitors and passing tour groups, many of whom called out or honked horns in expressions of solidarity.
Meanwhile, inside the Museum, lone activists stealthily replaced the IIW program with a duplicate program, virtually identical in appearance but which highlighted themes of the Israeli science and technology sectors‚Äô complicity in water theft and other abuses [program attached].   The front of the program named Israel ‚ÄúThe World‚Äôs Leader in Cutting-Edge Apartheid Technologies,‚Äù while inside the program, titles of IWW lectures were re-printed with altered titles.  For example, ‚ÄúSunshine and Sustainability: Israeli Leadership in Solar Technology‚Äù was renamed"Sustainable Darkness: Israeli Innovations in Torture Technology and Extra-Legal Maneuvering,‚Äù while ‚ÄúSharing Water in the Middle East‚ÄîIsrael‚Äôs Cross-Border Water Resource Strategy‚Äù became ‚ÄúStrategic Water Appropriation in the Middle East: Might Makes Right.‚Äù  IIW organizers were overheard multiple times expressing anger and frustration at their inability to determine who was ‚Äúplastering‚Äù the exhibit with this literature.
Activists surreptitiously distributed this material for more than two hours before finally being discovered and asked to leave the Museum.  Yet Museum staff were observed reading the alternative program and several expressed sympathy with the activists‚Äô cause as they were escorted out of the Museum.
Finally, yet another group of activists infiltrated the last panel lecture of the day, entitled ‚ÄúIsraeli Technology: An Investor's Perspective.‚Äù  As the panel began, two participants unfurled a giant banner reading ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt Invest in Israeli Apartheid.‚Äù  After the activists were shouted down by the audience and removed by Museum security, others continued to disrupt the session every five to ten minutes, individually standing up and interrupting the lecture by condemning investment in Israeli technology, calling for justice for Palestinians, or singing liberation songs. 
One disrupter referred the audience to the report about war crimes in Gaza by the UN inquiry commission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone if they truly wanted to know more about Israeli technological innovation. Another declared that investing in Israel was investing in the dispossession and genocide of indigenous people.  Yet another sang a re-written, Palestine-specific version of Sweet Honey in the Rock‚Äôs Chile Your Waters Run Red Through Soweto.  In sum, the activists made it impossible for the event to proceed and visibly agitated the audience.Video of the disruption will be made available online this week.
In another positive sign of Israel’s increasing marginalization, there were so few people in actual attendance of the lecture that after all the activists had been removed, there was more security present in the auditorium than attendees.
The Boston-area activists were pleased to be part of a larger, international campaign that refuses to let the Israeli government ‚Äúgreenwash‚Äù its occupation and devastation of Palestinian life by presenting itself as a leader in scientific innovation and green technology, a campaign that is part of the larger movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.  Just days earlier, activists in Scotland held a three-day protest of a similar such exhibition of Israeli science and technological innovation at their national Parliament building, a demonstration that included 400 tiny coffins to represent the children massacred in the 2009-2010 war on Gaza:
The BDS movement is an international response to the call from Palestinian society to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Israeli government until it ends its occupation and dismantles the Wall inside the West Bank, recognizes the equal rights of Palestinian citizens, and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees.  To learn more about the call for BDS, and to read about other organizations engaged in BDS work who also support the protest of the greenwashing of Israel, see: - site of the global BDS movement; you can read the call for BDS here - site of the Palestinian campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel - site of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Monday, May 3, 2010

From Anna Baltzer

Dear friends,

A lot has been happening over the past few weeks, particularly within the global movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). It may not feel like much if I'm the only list you're on, but there are new campaigns and votes all the time. The most recent vote at UC San Diego last Wednesday was sent to committee. You can read the resolution, sign the petition, and/or send a letter of support.

I want to tell you about three initiatives - a statement, a book, and an assembly - by Jewish Americans supporting BDS. Here they are, in order



Below is a statement I worked on with Hannah Mermelstein, Nava Etshalom, and Amy Kaplan and an accompanying video. I invite others to read, watch, sign, and/or support the initiative. It speaks for itself∑

Recommended: Click here to Watch the Video!

We are Jews from the United States, who, like Jewish people throughout the world, have an automatic right to Israeli citizenship under Israel's "law of return."

Today there are more than seven million Palestinian refugees around the world. Israel denies their right to return to their homes and land˜a right recognized and undisputed by UN Resolution 194, the Geneva Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Meanwhile, we are invited to live on that same land simply because we are Jewish.

We renounce this "right" to "return" offered to us by Israeli law. It is not right that we may "return" to a state that is not ours while Palestinians are excluded and continuously dispossessed.

In 1947-49, Zionist militias destroyed more than 500 Palestinian villages and made more than 800,000 Palestinian people refugees in order to create a Jewish state on land where the majority was not Jewish. It is Palestinians who have the right to return to their own land.

Now in Gaza, where more than three quarters of the people are refugees, the State of Israel not only denies the population its right of return, but also incarcerates the entire Gaza Strip under illegal and inhumane siege conditions.

We reject the notion that Israel is a "safe haven" from anti-Semitism for Jews. No one is truly safe when the price of that "security" is oppression, inequality, and occupation of another people.

Today there is a growing transnational movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, called for by Palestinian civil society and supported by activists, artists, and academics around the world, including an increasing number of conscientious Israelis. As part of this campaign, we pledge to boycott the "law of return." As an act of political and ideological divestment, we repudiate the claims the State of Israel makes on us as potential citizens.

We protest Israel's colonial policies and discriminatory laws toward the Palestinian people, as well as the U.S. government's political and financial support of these policies.

We hereby renounce Israel's "law of return" and refuse to lend the state our support, resources, or passports.

1. If you are a U.S. Jew, you can add your name to the signatories (there are already hundreds!) by emailing with your name, city, and institutional/organizational affiliations (optional).

2. Join our <../../>Facebook group ˆ all people who support this statement are welcome!



This is your last chance to pre-order at a discount the upcoming book, Shifting Sands: Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation, which comes into print on Tuesday!

I contributed a chapter, as did Hedy Epstein, Alice Rothchild, Starhawk, and many others. Israeli journalist Amira Hass wrote the preface and Cindy Sheehan wrote the foreword. The editor, Osie Gabriel Adelfang, will also be donating a portion of the proceeds to the cause. She did an incredible job. Even the cover is beautiful (some of you will recognize the wall around Munira's home from my DVD).

Visit the book's Official Website and note the Events Calendar at the top.

Order the book online (ASAP if you want the pre-order discount). Consider writing a review on Amazon if you read it and like it. I only have twelve for Witness in Palestine (thank you, whoever you are!) but it sure helps!

And don't forget to join the Facebook fan page and/or follow Shifting Sands on Twitter.



June 19-22, 2010

Between the Allied Media Conference and the US Social Forum in Detroit this summer, there will be a historic gathering of anti-Zionist Jews to develop strategies for US organizing, advance the BDS call, and much more!

Join the Facebook group and visit the Official Website to get more information, register, propose a session, contribute, check out the endorsements, or spread the word


Although it should not be exaggerated, these three initiatives are testimony to a continuing shift in Jewish consciousness on this issue. It is no longer an extraordinary thing to meet Anti-Zionist Jews in the United States, and Jewish Israelis are among those calling loudest for BDS. AIPAC's membership hovers around 100,000 while Jewish Voice for Peace's mailing list has now surpassed that. We join with millions of others of all backgrounds around the US and around world, forming the critical mass needed for change, led by the Palestinian people themselves. As Cecilie Surasky of Jewish Voice for Peace wrote in her incredible piece (read it!) on the UC Berkeley Divestment vote, It's Clear What the Future Looks Like...

If you're not active now, there's no better time to start!



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