Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bed Bath and Beyond

Monday, December 12, 2011

Supporting BDS and Palestinian rights as a Jew

Supporting BDS and Palestinian rights as a Jew

by Antony Loewenstein

Sydney, AUSTRALIA:  The logic of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) didn’t appear to me immediately. When my first book, My Israel Question, was released in 2006, the issue was barely raised, despite Palestinian civil society launching its call in 2005 “against Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

The vast majority of Israeli Jews claimed to be in constant fear of Palestinian terrorism despite living relatively free lives in a society that increasingly made Palestinians invisible. Palestinians under occupation were disillusioned with their leaders and after more than a decade of fruitless negotiations with Israel, the Oslo period, longed to be free.

But now, with Israel a state that even more brazenly boasts a fundamentalist Jewish minority as representing true Zionism, BDS is an essential tool to harm Israel’s economic and moral fibre. In the words of American Jewish dissident Philip Weiss, founder of the website Mondoweiss, “Israel isn’t good for the Jews anymore.” Most importantly, Palestinians under occupation are making this call, not a Diaspora attempting to impose a distorted vision onto them.

BDS is a key weapon to de-normalise the relationship between both the globalised economy and Israel and the constructed emotional ties that allegedly bond Israel and the West. Witness Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard recently tell an event sponsored by National Australia Bank that, “We are two countries separated by distance, but united by values. Liberal democracies that seek freedom and peace.”

An ever-expanding 44-year-old occupation is a strange way to crave freedom and peace.

It is the only the New South Wales Greens who are brave enough, despite a year of intense Murdoch media bullying and Jewish community pressure, to maintain in principle support for BDS and examine ways to “actively support the [Federal] Australian Greens position, including that the Australian government halt military cooperation and military trade with Israel.” This is a proudly BDS position, wherever the Greens call it this or not.

Israel/Palestine is not a balanced conflict, with two equal sides fighting over land, rights and dignity. It is, writes leading Israeli publisher of Haaretz, Amos Schocken, “a strategy of territorial seizure and apartheid. It ignores judicial aspects of territorial ownership and shuns human rights and the guarantees of equality enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.”

Although he doesn’t mention BDS, it is impossible to undermine daily, creeping oppression with yet more “negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinians while Washington remains Israel’s lawyer.

BDS is the non-violent weapon wielded to show Israel and its global backers that business as usual is unacceptable.

BDS makes many Jews distinctly uncomfortable, with wild claims that this is exactly the same tactics used by Nazis in Germany in the 1930s against Jewish businesses. It is nothing of the sort. Jews are not being targeted but businesses that directly support the Zionist state or receive funding from it. Israeli chocolate shop Max Brenner is a legitimate target because it proudly supports the IDF, an army complicit in daily human rights abuses.

Zionist cheapening of anti-Semitism has become endemic from seeing Nazis in inner Sydney protesting outside Max Brenner to American critics of neo-conservative plans to bomb Iran.

Despite these smears, BDS is growing globally because Israeli actions against Palestinians inside Israel proper and the occupied territories is becoming more repressive and outwardly racist. The litany of exclusionary legislation before the Israeli Knesset, some of which are being pushed by so-called “moderates”, rises weekly. BDS sends a message to these Israelis and Diaspora supporters who either remain silent or simply mouth platitudes about a two-state solution. It is designed to make blind backers uncomfortable and defensive.

It’s being grimly amusing to watch liberal Zionists in Australia and beyond express displeasure with BDS, arguing it is too inflammatory and extreme and ostracises potential allies inside Israel (namely Jews, as Palestinian allies are less important in their worldview). In fact, the opposite is true and BDS forces two-state advocates and fence-sitters to explain how their sclerotic process will do anything to advance peace in the Middle East.

BDS is the enemy of the status-quo and liberal Zionists in Australia, including Monash University’s Mark Baker and Philip Mendes, are paralysed in wishfully thinking the Israeli government will suddenly believe the Palestinians are worthy of being given a state. They recoil at BDS because they despise one part of an outcome that aims to bring true democracy for all citizens inside Israel and Palestine – the one-state solution – something a two-state result can never achieve. If not BDS to tell Israel that its Western-backed racism and occupation is illegal under international law, then what tactic? They have no answers, and desperately cling to an emotional claim as post-Holocaust children. This is no way to ensure rights in the 21st century, if it ever was.

BDS isn’t the answer to all the Palestinian needs. It is one part of a bigger struggle currently underway inside Palestine itself and the Palestinian Diaspora; a worldwide campaign that doesn’t rely on leaders to beg Israel for scraps or a state or rights. Popular, non-violent resistance, BDS and readdress for Palestinian refugees are key initiatives that must be supported to liberate both Palestinians and Israelis.

BDS is causing economic and sociological harm to the Zionist state, and this is something to celebrate. Were enlightened citizens of the world during South African apartheid asked to feel sorry for whites that ruled the blacks with an iron fist? Of course not, and BDS doesn’t aim to comfort the jarred nerves of Israelis or Diaspora Zionists.

It is about addressing a decades-old matrix of control that has only survived because of Diaspora Jewry funding and morally arming the Zionist state.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based independent journalist and author who has written for The Guardian, Haaretz, The Nation, Sydney Morning Herald and many others. His two best-selling books are My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution. He is currently working on many projects, including a book about vulture capitalism, a book on the Left in contemporary politics and another title on Israel/Palestine.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Outside the CVS in Kingston, NY

Nine of us located ourselves outside the Kingston CVS. There was plenty of car traffic, but few on the sidewalks, so we decided to have some of us offer flyers to the stopped traffic.

The first car was a good omen. The driver, who looked like he was from the Middle East, thanked us profusely for what we were doing. To our surprise, most drivers accepted flyers, and some even thanked us. After an hour, we had passed out almost all our flyers, the 220 we had come with.

Cars stopped for the light, however, can be dangerous. We had to be especially careful not to go into the second lane of traffic if the first lane was still moving. It made watching the light and being aware of other cars very important.

One of us stood outside the door of the CVS and passed out flyers to those entering and leaving. We have never tried to do this before, but there was no objection to the person being there. We decided to do this at every future BDS action at CVS.

Our meeting with the assistant manager was cordial and informative. She had read the letter we had sent to the manager and seemed aware of our issue. She said that she would let the CVS management know about our rally and about the fact that we planned to do another in front of the store.

Were people generally more apt to accept flyers because of Occupy Wall Street? That might be what was going on, since several people we talked to naturally made the transition between how Palestinians were being treated and how they were being abused by employers and by the system. One talked about having to hold four jobs to pay for her house. Do people now think that all protests are a good thing? Or do they see the links between the suffering of the Palestinians and their own economic mistreatment? The latter would be an amazing leap in public awareness.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Second BDS action in front of the Rhinebeck CVS

Five of us went to Rhinebeck this Sunday, Oct. 2. We handed out 125 flyers, and over 50 cards. There were some who came up to argue the traditional Zionist line, but the discussions were not as heated as last time. The best talks were with people who didn't know what the settlements were. They were open to something that they had never heard before, and sometimes willing to do something about it. The women below went back into the store to exchange a settlement product she had just bought. Here she is giving a "thumbs up."

The CVS store manager came out at one point and we gave her a flyer. We had talked to her at the first action.

The sign got a lot of attention from cars passing by.

Lisa discussing the CVS boycott with two people across the street.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ahava’s last day

Ahava’s last day

The above images are the end result of a successful campaign to cleanse London’s Monmouth Street of Ahava, a notorious retailer of Dead Sea beauty products made from natural resources plundered from the Palestinian people and manufactured on an illegal West Bank settlement.

Throughout this time, campaigners have engaged and distributed flyers to thousands of UK residents and international visitors informing them about Ahava’s unethical and illegal practices.

This, the UK component of CODEPINK’s international ‘Stolen Beauty’ campaign has used many tactics including fortnightly public demonstrations, legal challenges, occupations and other forms of direct action.

The Ahava Boycott Campaign proved successful due to the efforts, hard work and dedication of all the activists, truthtellers and human rights campaigners, some who made many sacrifices and all who gave so generously of their time.

Should Ahava relocate to other premises, activists vowed the campaign will continue.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rhinebeck BDS Action Sept. 10

It was a hard sell in Rhinebeck. Most people took flyers and many asked questions. Most did not even know about the settlements in the West Bank. If they did, they tended to thank us for being there. As usual, a few foreigners took pictures. They hadn't expected to see something like this in America.

One wine merchant from Ithaca asked if it was still safe importing wines from the occupied West Bank. A few teenagers seem to know all about the West Bank. CVS is not popular, so many took flyers because of that.

We handed out about 120 flyers, below what we have been doing in Woodstock. Next time, we should probably come during the farmers' market on Sunday. There is a lot more foot traffic by CVS at that time.

Why the hard sell? Compared to Woodstock, more people came up to us angry that we were critical of Israel. We tried to be calm and answer their questions, and mostly that's just what we did. There were some, however, who were just furious and not open to any discussion at all. With those, it was better just turning away and talking to someone else.

Thanks to the group that came out to do the rally. We all agreed that Rhinebeck was fertile ground for BDS actions. People had obviously never seen anything like this before.

It was high time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Second BDS action in front of the Woodstock CVS

We had a second CVS boycott event in Woodstock. Five held our banner outside the CVS store, and five handed out flyers. At the end of an hour, we walked with the banner to the Village Green, handing out flyers on both sides of the street.

We handed out about 270 flyers this time, bringing our total up to over 500. Another day at the CVS in Woodstock would probably get us close to a total of 800.

We had only minor objections this time. One older woman made a big show of throwing her flyer away. Another rather goofy old man told the group: "I would rather look at you through the cross hairs of a rifle," nasty words indeed. For his efforts, I have also posted his picture below.

Many people are willing to talk about Israel and the settlements, which is encouraging. The few hateful responses we got were troubling, but may also show a certain desperation. Israel's actions just won't be immune to criticism forever.

At least four people brought up the 3 billion we give to Israel each year, and contrasted this give-away with the cutting of services for the American Middle Class. Perhaps our flyer should say more about this.

"I would rather look at you through the cross hairs of a rifle."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

City artist Spurns Israel invite for Palestine cause

City artist Spurns Israel invite for Palestine cause

Bangalore Mirror

It was billed as the first major show of Indian art in Tel Aviv.  But with a section of Indian artists deciding to skip the event, and launching a political offensive for the cultural boycott of Israel, the issue now is snowballing into a vicious controversy which has split the artist fraternity down the middle.

Bangalore-based Pushpamala N was apparently among the 20-odd artists invited by the Israeli government to participate in ‘Deconstruct-ing India’, a show to be held in April 2012 at the newly-built Amir Wing of the Tel Aviv Museum.

The 55-year-old photo-artist first dashed off a mail to the show’s curator, Tami Katz-Freiman, declining to take part, and then started a signature campaign to show solidarity with a Palestinian civil society movement which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.

Well-known English novelist and art critic John Berger and author-activist Arundhati Roy are among a handful of international names who support the cultural boycott of Israel, while Sir Nicholas Hytner, the director of the London’s National Theatre, is one of the strongest critics of this approach. “It seems profoundly counter-productive to cease contact with precisely that section of Isra-eli society most likely to provoke a change in direction within Israel,” he has said.

In her mail, which has been widely circulated amongst Indian artists and galleries, Pushpmala drew attention to the efforts of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and claimed, “If we exhibit in this show, we will be legitimising the racist and apartheid policies of the Israeli government.”

Pushpamala’s stand is now being supported by a section of artists, including Tushar Joag, but others like noted art critic Girish Shahane have struck a strongly cautionary note. “If we start boycotting museum shows because of bad things governments are doing, where will it end? Why should Indian artists exhibit in China, when the regime there has been responsible for horrendous massacres and continues to deny basic freedom of expression to its citizens? Israel has done terribly by the Palestinians, but associating art institutions and centres of learning, even state-funded ones, so closely with state policy is a silly mistake in my opinion, and tokenism of the worst kind as well,” wrote Girish.

But it seems a section of artists is planning to lend support to the boycott call. Speaking to Mirror, Pushpamala said, “We are in the process of collecting signatures. I already have the backing of five participating artists and some more have expressed solidarity. Some artists are travelling. So, I am waiting for them to get back to me. I plan to issue a press statement in a few days.”

However, senior artists like Laxman Shreshta are firmly opposed to any such boycott. “It’s like the case of the rebel without a cause. I would not support Pushpamala at all. If Indian artists have been invited for this interesting exhibition, they should go there and show the world what they are doing. There’s no need to mix politics in this,” he said. It’s a feeling echoed by Atul Dodiya. “Any country which commits atrocities should be roundly condemned. But while even artists have political viewpoints, art itself cannot be a political tool. It is a means to create bonds, not break them. That’s why even with Pakistan, we continue to maintain cultural relations. So why not Israel?” he asked.

But the matter is set to escalate with the rest of the invited Indian artists being forced into taking a public stand, especially since the entire list of participating names, including Ravi Agarwal, Atul Bhalla, Anita Dube, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Ranbir Kaleka, Jitish Kallat, Riyas Komu, TV Santhosh, Sudarshan Shetty, Hema Upadhyay and Lochan Upadhyay have been made public.

At least Sudarshan Shetty isn’t amused by the hullabaloo. “I don’t have any fresh work to show there, so the curator is arranging to get some earlier works of mine from some private collectors. I will be participating though I am still to figure whether most of the others plan to. Though I personally condemn the Israeli occupation, I don’t think boycotting the show is a solution. You can instead use that opportunity to express your view. There are problems in almost every country, including India, so should we completely stop exhibiting our art?

‘Make a point through your art’

I have travelled extensively in Israel. I remember being at the artist’s colony, Ein Hod, in the Haifa district. They have a well-developed art situation there.

An artist is a universal being whose background and traditions will but naturally reflect in his/her works. I was once asked to comment on a topic by an NYT reporter as being an Indian artist and my immediate response was to contest that. Artists belong to the world, we don’t need to be labelled. In that sense, politics and arts needn’t mix. Of course, you can make a political statement through your work. Picasso did too. But then again, let your art works speak for you. Surely, artists can oppose a matter vocally, but I would say exhibit your works, make a point through your art. —Yusuf Arakkal

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We won't back down

We won't back down until TIAA-CREF divests from the Israeli occupation!

This Tuesday in Charlotte, NC, I was proud to stand up and demand answers from retirement giant TIAA-CREF CEO Roger Ferguson and CREF Trustees at their annual corporate meeting. I stood side by side with many other TIAA-CREF investors like me who, one after another, told them that we did not want to build our future retirements on a foundation of demolished Palestinian homes, illegal Israeli settlements, and military occupation.

I felt supported to speak out by people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who called the TIAA-CREF campaign "important because it is one of the most broad-based divestment efforts in the U.S." just days before in an op-ed in the Charlotte Observer, and by tens of thousands of people like you who have signed petitions and letters and advocated in your own communities.

TIAA-CREF leadership told us that, when it comes to Israel and Palestine there is no consensus, but rather controversy. In fact, a representative from Amnesty International reminded them that there is consensus in the human rights community: the Israeli occupation is a legal term, not a disputed one, and the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal. A fellow investor asked why, if TIAA-CREF cared so much about the opinion of their clients, did they block a resolution that would have allowed them to be polled about their comfort with investing in companies profiting from the Israeli occupation with their retirement funds? And yet another reminded Mr. Ferguson that on issues of justice -- slavery, segregation, Apartheid -- there was no consensus either, but there was and still there is a moral compass. Challenges like mine dominated the shareholder meeting yesterday in Charlotte. In fact, the main topic of that meeting was our campaign—the largest divestment campaign for Palestinian human rights in US history.

What is the most exciting to me, though, is that as I was inside the meeting in Charlotte, actions took place nationwide—outside the meeting in Charlotte, as well as in Baltimore, Ithaca, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Lexington, St. Louis, New York City, Washington D.C., Detroit, Palo Alto, and Sacramento. See images of the simultaneous protests.

Jewish Voice for Peace

Monday, July 18, 2011

From Archbishop Desmond Tutu

From Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009:

As shareholders with the retirement giant TIAA-CREF head to Charlotte this week for their national meeting, there is one issue they will find conspicuously absent from the agenda: divestment from the Israeli Occupation. Despite pleas from shareholders, including medical professionals, students and academics from universities across the United States, the pension fund refused to allow a vote on a resolution that would have compelled TIAA-CREF to consider divestment from companies such as Caterpillar or Elbit. These are companies that profit substantially from the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

In an effort, presumably, to avoid the topic altogether, TIAA-CREF even went so far as to move its annual meeting to Charlotte from its usual location in New York City. But even in Charlotte, they will not be able to escape from "occupation." Throughout the United States and the world, people will continue to speak truth to power about the apartheid perpetrated in the Holy Land.

I, for one, never tire of speaking out against these injustices, because they remind me only too well of what we in South Africa experienced under the racist system of apartheid. I have witnessed firsthand the racially segregated roads and housing in the Occupied Palestinian territories. I have seen the humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children at the checkpoints and roadblocks. I have met Palestinians who were evicted and replaced by Jewish Israeli settlers; Palestinians whose homes were destroyed even as new, Jewish-only homes were illegally built on confiscated Palestinian land.

This oppression, these indignities and the resulting anger are only too familiar. It is no wonder that so many South African leaders in the anti-apartheid struggle, including Nelson Mandela and numerous Jewish leaders, have found ourselves compelled to speak out on this issue.

Though the situation deteriorates daily, I am not without hope. Before apartheid ended, most South Africans did not believe they would live to see a day of liberation. They did not believe that their children, or even their children's children, would see it. But we have seen it, and I know that if apartheid can end in South Africa, so too can this occupation.

We could not have won our freedom in South Africa without the solidarity of people around the world who adopted non-violent methods to pressure governments and corporations to end their support for the apartheid regime. Faith-based groups, unions, students and consumers organized on a grassroots level and catalyzed a global wave of divestment, ultimately contributing to the collapse of apartheid.

More than two decades later, another wave of divestment has emerged, this time with the goal of ending Israel's 44-year-old occupation and its unequal treatment of the Palestinians.

The TIAA-CREF campaign is important because it is one of the most broad-based divestment efforts in the U.S.: thousands of professors, doctors, students, and many other people of conscience are coming forward demanding that the suffering of the Palestinians not be ignored in the company's bottom line. The campaign originated with a call from the American group Jewish Voice for Peace, whose members understand that ending the occupation means a better future for both Israelis and Palestinians; a future in which both the violence of the occupier and the violent resistance of the occupied come to an end, where one people no longer rule over another, and where the cycles of suffering, humiliation and retaliation are broken.

In South Africa we understood that true peace could be built only on the basis of justice and an unwavering commitment to universal rights for all humans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, national origin or any other identity attribute. I encourage TIAA-CREF, whose slogan is "for the greater good," to heed the call for divestment, to refuse to profit from oppression of a people, and thus to stand on the side of what is right: a safe, secure and peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis.

For the Record offers commentaries from various sources. The views are the writer's, and not necessarily those of the Observer editorial board.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting for a full-fledged Palestinian genocide?

Next week I am going to Charlotte, NC, and I want to bring your voice with me. You see, financial giant TIAA-CREF is having its shareholder meeting in Charlotte, but the company refuses to talk about the Israeli occupation.

That's why I am asking you to sign this open letter to TIAA-CREF CEO Roger Ferguson before Tuesday and ask him to divest from companies such as Caterpillar, which manufactures the bulldozers used to demolish tens of thousands of Palestinian homes, and Veolia, which operates buses in a segregated highway in the West Bank. Segregation! I am old enough to have witnessed myself segregation in the South. I did not like it then and I do not like it now.

I have been proud to be a Jew all my life, but after visiting Israel three times and the West Bank once, I've seen the effects of the Israeli occupation with my own eyes, and what I have seen harms not only Palestinians but also Jews everywhere.

I started investing in a TIAA-CREF pension fund back in the 1970's, and now as a retired professor, I draw almost half of my income from TIAA-CREF. I do not want to have my retirement money contributing to injustice. That's why I am asking you to sign this open letter to Mr. Ferguson.

Together with other TIAA-CREF participants, I filed a shareholder proposal asking TIAA-CREF to talk with companies that profit from the Israeli occupation and ask them to stop profiting from human rights violations. TIAA-CREF decided not to include that proposal on the ballot.

I also wrote TIAA-CREF personally to express my concerns. All I got was a brief letter from them saying no, and that profit was their only concern.

TIAA-CREF has already divested from Sudan because of the genocide in Darfur. And yet the company says that the case in Palestine is different because the genocide in Darfur was recognized as such by the US government.

Is TIAA-CREF waiting for a full-fledged Palestinian genocide before deciding to divest? How many more Palestinians need to be made homeless before TIAA-CREF takes action? And if the company can only take its cues from our government, does it mean that it was in favor of segregation when such a practice was legal in the US? It is certainly in favor of segregation today if it keeps on profiting from the Israeli occupation and its Jewish-only roads and settlements. And it is doing this with my hard-earned money.

Please, sign the letter to Ferguson.


Evalyn Segal, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita. Department of Psychology. San Diego State University.

Roger Waters endorses BDS and speaks against Israeli anti-boycott law

Saturday, July 9, 2011

First CVS event in Woodstock

About 10 of us showed up outside the Woodstock CVS with our new banner and about 400 flyers. Three or four held the banner while the rest passed out flyers (220 were given out in the hour we were there). At the end, two of us went around Woodstock and handed out flyers to everyone on the streets. Then we went in to talk the the store manager about CVS products made in the occupied West Bank.

We were respectful, and the manager said that she would talk to her national office on Monday.

A Palestinian man and his son stopped by and said: "I never thought I would see this in America." He and his son stood with us for the rest of the rally. Later an English man stopped by and said that he was amazed to see America finally waking up to the issue of Palestinian rights.

We had a few negative opinions, but not many. One middle aged women said she would "wipe her ass" with the flyer and went into the CVS to tell on us. Another women was horrified that "anti-Semitism had come to Woodstock." She hadn't read the flyer, but she thought the word, apartheid, was all she needed to see.

In all, I thought it was a great first effort.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Responsibility as an artist not to lend legitimacy

July 5, 2011

To Whom It May Concern:
After much deliberation, I have turned down the Fellowship offered me by the Jewish Foundation for National Culture to attend the first American Academy in Jerusalem from October 23-December 23, 2011.

I stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine, but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government's policies by joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel. Although I am not a member of the BDS movement and do not endorse all their claims, I do oppose the occupation and do not want to normalize it. I accept and exercise my social responsibility as an artist not to lend legitimacy to the State of Israel as long as it continues the occupation.

My conscience will not allow me either to participate in programs funded by the current Israeli government at this point in time, or to show my films at venues that receive funding from that government. I stand in support of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples who believe in justice for all, equal representation, and an end to the oppression of the Palestinian peoples. It is the least I can do. The most is yet to be seen.

Barbara Hammer

Film Director

New York, New York

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thank Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for slam dunking apartheid

Two months ago, YNet News reported that legendary basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was planning to visit Israel in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Consulate of New York. NBA Sporting News reported that Abdul-Jabbar would be competing for the "Spirit of Freedom Award" at the Jerusalem Film Festival.

In private correspondence, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has confirmed that the former Los Angeles Lakers star has decided not to visit Israel due to concerns arising "after the Nakba Day violence." This year's commemoration of the Nakba, left 12 unarmed Palestinians dead after Israeli forces opened fire on refugees attempting to exercise their internationally recognized right of return.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, thank you for calling Israel's foul! Israeli cultural institutions like the Jerusalem Film Festival are used cynically to brand Israel as a beacon of cultural and technological progress, diverting attention away from its occupation and apartheid policies. For this reason, cultural boycott of Israel is a key component of the growing Palestinian-led movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law. You can read the Palestinian guidelines for cultural boycott here.

100 organizations signed a thank-you letter to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, urging him to hold fast to his decision not to lend his good name or an air of legitimacy to Israeli human rights violations. In addition to the US Campaign, signatories include the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Israel), the Organization for Black Struggle, six Islamic-American organizations, four Jewish organizations, fourteen campus groups, and dozens of other US Campaign member organizations.

The letter points out to Abdul-Jabbar: Your film, "On the Shoulders of Giants," documents the policies of segregation and racism that characterized the world of basketball in the 1930s. Ironically, the majority of Muslim and Christian Palestinians could not even have attended such a screening because they are excluded from entering Jerusalem on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.

Click here to thank Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for slam dunking apartheid!

US Campaign to End the Occupation

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ahava, occupation profiteer

After years of strenuous denial, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics firm with its main manufacturing plant in an illegal West Bank settlement, is proven by documentary evidence to be in violation of international law through its theft of Palestinian resources. This evidence was recently discovered by Who Profits, a research project of the Israeli Coalition for Peace, which documents corporate activity in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory.

Prior to this finding representatives of Ahava repeatedly claimed that the company does not make use of natural resources from the West Bank: "the mud and materials used in Ahava cosmetics products are not excavated in an occupied area. The mud is mined in the Israeli part of the Dead Sea, which is undisputed internationally." The new findings prove that the company was given a license for excavating minerals in 2004 from the Israeli Civil Administration, which is the representative of the Israeli government in the Occupied West Bank, and that the excavation site on the occupied shores of the Northern Dead Sea is currently active. By making use of mud that is excavated in the occupied area the company is violating international humanitarian law (the laws of occupation), which prohibits the plundering of natural resources from the occupied territory. Merav Amir, Coordinator of Who Profits, said, "Ahava can no longer continue misleading consumers about where they get the mud used in their products. This mud is from the Occupied West Bank and is stolen from the Palestinian people."

Nancy Kricorian, the manager for CODEPINK ís Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott, an international campaign against the company's violations of international law, said, "Ahava's CEO has been circulating a letter to retailers that we thought was filled with lies, and now Who Profits has provided us with the evidence to prove it."

The company is still reeling from the public relations setback of an explosive new report issued on May 5th by Bítselem, a leading Israeli human rights group, which calls Ahava out by name as an occupation profiteer. Ahava representatives have yet to respond to Bítselem's report, and the company's reputation is now further tarnished by this just discovered documentary proof of its violations of international law.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Portland BDS Coalition Flash Mobs New Seasons: May 29, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ahava prove to violate international law

Press Advisory Date: 18 May 2011

CAUGHT: Ahava's Theft of Occupied Natural Resources Finally Exposed After years of strenuous denial, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics firm with its main manufacturing plant in an illegal West Bank settlement, is proven by documentary evidence to be in violation of international law through its theft of Palestinian resources. This evidence was recently discovered by Who Profits (, a research project of the Israeli Coalition for Peace, which documents corporate activity in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory.

Prior to this finding representatives of Ahava repeatedly claimed that the company does not make use of natural resources from the West Bank:
"the mud and materials used in Ahava cosmetics products are not excavated in an occupied area. The mud is mined in the Israeli part of the Dead Sea, which is undisputed internationally".

The new findings prove that the company was given a license for excavating minerals in 2004 from the Israeli Civil Administration, which is the representative of the Israeli government in the Occupied West Bank, and that the excavation site on the occupied shores of the Northern Dead Sea is currently active. By making use of mud that is excavated in the occupied area the company is violating international humanitarian law (the laws of occupation), which prohibits the plundering of natural resources from the occupied territory. Merav Amir, Coordinator of Who Profits, said, "Ahava can no longer continue misleading consumers about where they get the mud used in their products. This mud is from the Occupied West Bank and is stolen from the Palestinian people."

Nancy Kricorian, the manager for CODEPINK's Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott ( ), an international campaign against the company's violations of international law, said, "Ahava's CEO has been circulating a letter to retailers that we thought was filled with lies, and now Who Profits has provided us with the evidence to prove it." 

The company is still reeling from the public relations setback of an explosive new report [2] issued on May 5th by B'tselem, a leading Israeli human rights group, which calls Ahava out by name as an occupation profiteer. Ahava representatives have yet to respond to B'tselem's report, and the company's reputation is now further tarnished by this just discovered documentary proof of its violations of international law.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Dear friends of CJPME:

We invite you to participate in the June focus* of our "We're not buying it" Boycott Israel campaign. As you may know, CJPME's Boycott Israel campaign is intended to pressure Israel to respect human rights and cease its occupation of Palestinian land. The campaign has a different focus each month: one consumer target, and one cultural target.  For June, we urge you to participate as we target:
  • IKEA- Consumer Target 
  • Duran Duran- Cultural Target 
IkeaIKEA delivers to the illegal Israeli colonies in the West Bank, while refusing to deliver to any Palestinian cities in the Occupied territories. IKEA currently has two stores in Israel and is planning on opening a third one in 2012. Find out more

What can you do?
  • Express your concern by sending an email to the executives of IKEA by clicking here. 
  • Send a letter to execs at IKEA by printing the letter here, adding your name, and sending it.  
  • Print this letter, add your name, and take  it to your local IKEA. 
Duran Duran  
Duran Duran
Duran Duran is an English band formed in Birmingham in 1978. They were one of the most successful bands of the 1980's, and have sold over 100 million records throughout their career. The band will play in Tel Aviv on July 30.  Please ask Duran Duran to cancel their trip to Israel.

What can you do?
  • Express your concern via email to Duran Duran by clicking here.
  • Send a letter to Duran Duran by printing the letter here, adding your name, printing and sending it. 
If we all work together, we can make a difference. Please do your part to end Israel's human rights abuses, and put an end to the Occupation - it is time!

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Telephone: (438) 380 5410

* Note that CJPME encourages its adherents to boycott all targets ongoing.  The monthly focus simply enables CJPME to give direction and freshness to its boycott campaign.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CVS products made in the settlements

I looked closely today at what the CVS has in this store.

It doesn't carry Ahava, although this store is listed on the national CVS website as carrying many of their products: Ahava Enriched Intensive Foot Cream, Ahava Velvet Cream Wash Orange & Frangipani, Ahava Foot Indulgence Soft & Soothing Gift Set, Ahava Purifying Mud Soap, etc.

The Rhinebeck CVS is loaded with l'Oreal products. This from the BDS Movement for Freedom, Justice, and Equality:
"L'Oreal Israel manufacturers a line of products using Dead Sea minerals under the name 'Natural Sea Beauty' that is exported to 22 countries. While L'Oreal exploits minerals from the Dead Sea, the region and its resources are systematically closed to the indigenous Palestinian people by Israel's military occupation and apartheid practices, which have set up a network of checkpoints, segregated roads and exclusive zones."

Natural Sea Beauty (Manufactured by Interbeauty Cosmetics Inc., a subsidiary of L'Oreal) is sold by CVS:

H20 + Sea Mineral Mud Mask also uses Dead Sea minerals and is sold by CVS:

Dead Sea Salt Foot Soak, Swisa Beauty Esensuals Dead Sea Facial Peel, and Montagne Jeunesse Dead Sea Mud Pac are also carried by CVS

CVS carries many other products that are simply made in Israel: Emjoi Rotoshave Electric Razor, CVS Medicated Wipes To Go, CVS Children's Allergy Relief Oral Solution, CVS Tampons Super Plus Absorbency, Garnier Nutritioniste Nutri-Pure Cleansing Towelettes, Born Free 7-Oz Training Cup Assorted Colors, CVS Unscented Plastic Tampons Multi Pack, Born Free Twister Brush Set, Born Free Vented Glass Bottle 5 oz, Bornfree Level 3 Fast Flow Nipples, Boogie Wipes Individually Wrapped, Fresh Scent, CVS Omeprazole 20 Mg Tablets, Epilady Coil Tweezer.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

German firm pulls out of Israeli project...

In an unprecedented victory to a public campaign led by Palestinian, German and Israeli groups, the German firm Deutsche Bahn International has been pulled off an Israeli railway project by a decision of the German Federal Government. The Israeli railway line is being built between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, unlawfully crossing into occupied Palestinian territory in two areas, at a great cost to the neighboring Palestinian communities.

The international campaign was launched six months ago following an investigation by the Israeli research group “Who Profits from the Occupation” of the Coalition of Women for Peace. The “Who Profits” report (see: the route of the new train line and the involvement of several European companies in its construction on occupied Palestinian land.  

A letter from the German Transport Ministry was released last week, stating that "The federal government pointed out [to Deutsche Bahn] that the project of the Israeli state railway is problematic from a foreign policy point of view and potentially breaches international law." The letter added that the German operator confirmed "in writing" that there would be no further involvement of its international subsidiary in "this politically very sensitive project".

Prominent among the other European companies involved in the planning and construction of the new train line is the private Italian company Pizzarotti which handles much of the tunneling. A wide coalition of Italian organizations has appealed to the company to back out of this illegal project (see more: The Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace has called upon other governments to follow the example of the German Government and regulate corporate involvement in international law violations in the occupied West Bank.   

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Campus BDS Heating Up This Spring!

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation : Campus BDS Heating Up This Spring!

This spring, the weather is not all that's heating up! April has brought a burst of U.S. campus boycott and divestment (BDS) initiatives following inspiring actions around the country on the BDS Day of Action, held on the annual Palestinian Land Day. Active campaigns in California, Arizona, Indiana and beyond are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

We are thrilled to welcome and support many of these campus groups as new members of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation!

Here are some of the exciting ongoing initiatives:

 At the University of California at San Diego, the UCSD Associated Students are voting tomorrow night on a resolution to divest from Northrop-Grumman and General Electric because they profit from violent conflict, including in Israel/Palestine. Click here to read the resolution and send endorsements to

  No Mas Muertes at the University of Arizona (UA) recently issued this call for campus boycott and divestment from national targets Caterpillar and Motorola, due to their involvement in racist policies against Latina/o migrant communities and indigenous peoples in Arizona, Palestine and around the world.

 The statement coincided with the launch of a national "Mock Wall" Movement protesting U.S. support for Israeli occupation and discriminatory U.S. immigration policies, with students at six universities around the country constructing walls on their campuses to raise awareness about the destruction wrought by the walls in Palestine and on the U.S. border.

 At Earlham College in Indiana, students launched this BDS resolution to divest their campus from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard, which profit from Israeli occupation and violations of Palestinian rights. The students put together this terrific video.

Northrop-Grumman, Caterpillar and Motorola are also three of the five companies targeted in a national campaign initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace (a member of the US Campaign) to compel financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest from Israeli occupation.

Campuses are fertile ground for this growing campaign. Check out the comprehensive new campaign web site and resources here!

Don’t forget to check our "BDS on Campus" resources here, including a handbook by veteran activists to guide students through campus divestment campaigns.

Whether your group is on a campus or not, we invite you to join our coalition too, by clicking here. We are more excited than ever to support diverse groups working around the country for corporate accountability and an end to U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Global BDS Day of Action in Grand Central Station

A little something to make you smile as we embark on the: Global BDS Day of Action

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sign Petition on Ahava...

Dear Friend,

Not sure if you know about Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories—it’s an Israeli company that makes bath salts, sun screen, foot scrubs and other high-end products sold in pharmacies and department stores. Ahava promises “Beauty Secrets from the Dead Sea.” But wait until you hear those secrets!

Because Ahava is hiding the ugly truth—its products actually come from stolen Palestinian natural resources in the Occupied Territory of the Palestinian West Bank, and are produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Don’t let the “Made in Israel” sticker fool you—when you buy Ahava products you help finance the destruction of hope for a peaceful and just future for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Ahava puts a pretty face on its crimes, even paying Oxfam Ambassador and “Sex in the City” star Kristen Davis to be its spokeswoman. But here’s what Oxfam itself has to say about Ahava’s deceptive packaging: 

"The settlements on the West Bank are illegal under international humanitarian law and that creates a lot of problems for the Palestinians that live there.”

"Consumers that are buying produce that are grown in illegal settlements need to have that information so that they can make an informed choice." 

Don’t the facts about Ahava make your skin crawl? For instant relief visit CODEPINK’s today, and sign up to help get the word out to Kristen and our communities—real beauty is more than skin deep!

Academic boycott of Israel gathers momentum

Leading advocates of an academic boycott of Israel have stepped up their campaign calling for an "outing" of Israeli universities which support their government's policy on the occupied territories.

Nearly 300 academics from around the world have published an open letter calling for leaders of Israeli universities to lay their political cards on the table and reveal whether they support the government's policies on the border conflict.

One Israeli academic said the move echoed the days of "McCarthyism" in America.

The letter, which is addressed to Professor Menachem Magidor, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and "members of Israel's forum to combat the academic boycott", says that Palestinian universities are being severely compromised. "Harassment, arrests, random shootings and assaults" are carried out regularly by Israeli troops on Palestinian campuses, it claims.

It goes on: "Given the destructive nature of Israeli government action against Palestinian education and academic freedom, and your simultaneous expression of concern for Israeli academic freedom in the face of the boycott, we feel that it is only fair to ask the Israeli academic leadership where it stands on the issue of current Israeli policy as described above, and to share with us what Israeli academic institutions are doing to challenge the behavior of your government."

The letter also calls for an international public debate to be held at an Israeli institution. Among the signatories, who hail from 12 countries including Israel, are Andre Brink, the South African novelist, Ronnie Kasrils, minister of water affairs and forestry of South Africa, and Hilary and Steven Rose who were among the first in the UK to call for the boycott. Mona Baker who caused a row after she sacked two Israeli academics from a journal she edited after signing the original petition two years ago is also on the list.

Hilary Rose said: "I'm hoping that this will re-open... and deepen the discussion of what is happening to the Palestinian academic system at every level - schools are shut, universities are shut, the military enter the campuses at will; it is a completely impossible situation."

"It's about outing Israeli academics and saying you can't actually pretend that this isn't going on."

She said that the recent assassination of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas's founder and spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin had "intensified" her belief in the boycott and added that they were calling for a public meeting so people could see that such a meeting would be impossible for Palestinian academics to attend in the current climate.

Professor Nachman Ben-Yehuda, of Hebrew University's sociology department, said that there was no formal forum discussing a response to the boycott, but that members of the university were monitoring the boycott and approaching individuals taking part in the boycott to discuss the issues. He said the letter harped back to the days of McCarthyism.

"I have no desire to go back to the days of McCarthy where people had to sign forms to say whether they were loyal or not.

"We should isolate this conflict [the border conflict] not escalate into other parts of public life. If people want to go against the government, that's fine, but what do they want from Israeli academia? Israeli academia is not the Israeli government."

He added: "Did such a letter go to Harvard to ask whether they support Bush in Iraq? If academics have to come out and say what they believe in why just Israel? Why shouldn't they ask the LSE [London School of Economics] if they support the Gulf war? Why just Israel?"

The debate over the academic boycott of Israel has raged for the past two years since two petitions, one calling for an out and out boycott and the other for a moratorium on EU research funding to Israel, were established. Further petitions opposing the boycotts have since gathered thousands of signatures.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

US Campaign to End the Occupation

Ten days ago, folk music legend Pete Seeger announced his support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement to compel Israel to comply with international law and human rights.

Less than a week later, Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters also joined the campaign, urging fellow artists to do the same and comply with the cultural boycott. He explained:

"Where governments refuse to act, people must, with whatever peaceful means are at their disposal … For me it means declaring my intention to stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine, but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their governments racist and colonial policies, by joining a campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel."

Join Seeger, Waters, and thousands of others around the world in taking the next step in BDS. Are you ready to do the same? This March 30th, Palestinian Land Day, will mark the third annual global BDS Day of Action. There are lots of ways you can take part, including media engagement, house parties and direct action.

Do you want some talking points to strengthen your BDS activism on March 30th and beyond? Have you struggled with handling tough questions and criticism about BDS?

If so, check out our new BDS FAQ page!

On the new page, you can read talking points compiled from BDS advocates around the world in response to common misguided questions like "Why are you singling out Israel?" and "Won't BDS hurt Palestinians?"

One member of the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel had this to say:
"BDS ruffles feathers, as it is intended to do. This resource has gathered the most frequently used criticisms of boycotting Israel and provides an extremely handy and succinct list of rational and persuasive responses activists can use to defend the validity of BDS as a tactic for social justice. We should read and reread this invaluable list."

A primary organizer in the University of California at San Diego divestment campaign wrote:
"During our campaign, this resource was very helpful in guiding conversations to where they needed to be. We even printed copies for each of our council members to consult."

Israel is feeling the pressure of BDS. On Monday, the Israeli parliament approved the first reading of a new anti-boycott bill, which would impose harsh fines on Israelis who call for academic or economic boycott. 50 Israeli organizations appealed to the Knesset to stop the bill and many more continue to join. Let us continue to join with those working through nonviolent means to end Israeli occupation and apartheid.

As you organize this March 30th to keep the pressure on, we hope the US Campaign's new resource will help strengthen your efforts in promoting BDS as a strategy grounded in universal values promoting freedom, human rights, and international law in Palestine/Israel.

Anna Baltzer National Organizer

Monday, February 28, 2011

Folk music legend Pete Seeger endorses boycott of Israel


Folk music legend Pete Seeger has come out in support of the growing Palestinian movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as a program for justice for Palestinians and a route to peace in the Middle East.

Seeger, 92, participated in last November's online virtual rally "With Earth and Each Other," sponsored by the Arava Institute, an Israeli environmental organization, and by the Friends of the Arava Institute. The Arava Institute counts among its close partners and major funders the Jewish National Fund, responsible since 1901 for securing land in Palestine for the use of Jews only while dispossessing Palestinians. Although groups in the worldwide BDS movement had requested that he quit the event, Seeger felt that he could make a strong statement for peace and justice during the event.

During a January meeting at his Beacon, NY, home with representatives from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and Adalah-NY, Pete Seeger explained, "I appeared on that virtual rally because for many years I've felt that people should talk with people they disagree with. But it ended up looking like I supported the Jewish National Fund. I misunderstood the leaders of the Arava Institute because I didn't realize to what degree the Jewish National Fund was supporting Arava. Now that I know more, I support the BDS movement as much as I can."

Jeff Halper, the Coordinator of ICAHD, added, "Pete did extensive research on this. He read historical and current material and spoke to neighbors, friends, and three rabbis before making his decision to support the boycott movement against Israel." Seeger has for some time given some of the royalties from his famous Bible-based song from the 1960s, "Turn, Turn, Turn," to ICAHD for their work in rebuilding demolished homes and exposing Israel's practice of pushing Palestinians in Israel off their land in favor of the development of Jewish villages and cities.

The November virtual rally "With Earth and Each Other" was billed as an apolitical effort to bring Israelis and Palestinians together to work for the environment. Dave Lippman from Adalah-NY noted, "Arava's online event obfuscated basic facts about Israel's occupation and systematic seizure of land and water from Palestinians. Arava's partner and funder, the JNF, is notorious for planting forests to hide Palestinian villages demolished by Israel in order to seize land. Arava was revealed as a sterling practitioner of Israeli government efforts to 'Rebrand Israel' through greenwashing and the arts."

Currently, the JNF is supporting an Israeli government effort to demolish the Bedouin village of Al-Araqib in order to plant trees from the JNF that were paid for by the international evangelical group GOD-TV. The Friends of the Arava Institute's new board chair recently published an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post that only cautiously questions some activities of the JNF, an organization whose very raison-d'etre is to take over land for Jews at the expense of the Palestinian Arab population.

Pete Seeger's long-time colleague Theodore Bikel, an Israeli-American known for his life-long involvement with Israeli culture, recently supported the Israeli artists who have refused to perform in a new concert hall in Ariel, a large illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

Seeger joins a growing roster of international performers who have declined to whitewash, greenwash, or in any way enable Israel's colonial project, including Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Roger Waters, Devendra Banhart, and the Pixies.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Israeli Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall

Photos by Andrew Courtney

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Below are several BDS sites

---Here's another Boycott & Divestment possible targets list, meticulously compiled by Susanne Hoder in Rhode Island. I believe it only focuses on occupation-related companies: 

(Most are more appropriate for divestment, not consumer boycott. Blockbuster is an option, but not necessarily a good one.) 
~ Anna 


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