Global BDS News

Subscribe to Global BDS News feed
The Palestinian BDS National Committee website
Updated: 10 hours 31 min ago

Christian leaders refuse to be silenced in struggle for Palestinian rights

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 12:57

As is well-known by now, the unilateral decision of New York governor Andrew Cuomo to create a blacklist of businesses and organizations abiding by divestment and boycott campaigns related to Israeli human rights abuses has drawn widespread criticism for both its high-handedness and for its violation of constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. As might be expected, the response from civil liberties groups and groups advocating for Palestinian rights was swift and pointed. However, opposition also took the form of a letter drafted by the Reverend David Gaewski, New York Conference Minister, writing on behalf of the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ, a judicatory with 260 churches in the state of New York.

Noting the Church’s resolution to divest from “companies that profit from or that are complicit in violations of human rights arising from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by the state of Israel,” and to “boycott goods produced in or using the facilities of illegal settlements located in the West Bank,” the letter actually asks that the church be put on the blacklist:

As a church, we have a right to engage in non-violent action to bring about change, including using economic leverage. All people and organizations have that right, and it is a right we must defend. For this reason, with the full support of the Board of Directors of the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ, I respectfully request that the New York Conference, United Church of Christ be placed on the top of your list of organizations you would like the state of the New York to boycott. Gov. Cuomo – stop denying our rights. Rescind your executive order now!

Gaewski told Salon that he wrote Cuomo because he felt “the executive order limits the rights and freedom of people of faith to enact faith-motivated actions toward peace. I am most concerned that the Governor is diminishing our freedom of expression.” He explained that what drives the Church’s commitment to Palestinian rights is the belief that “a separate society where Palestinians do not enjoy the same rights as any other person living in the region can not result in peace.” Gaewski added, “I think people of all faiths want to see peace in the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

In fact, the discussion about what position to take with regard to Palestinian rights is taking place in several religious organizations, often as a continuation of many years’ discussion and action. In May the United Methodist General Conference, despite pressure from the State of Israel and even the admonishment of church member Hillary Clinton, passed a number of resolutions for justice of Palestinians. Also, as the New York Times reported in January:

The pension board of the United Methodist Church — one of the largest Protestant denominations in the United States, with more than seven million members — has placed five Israeli banks on a list of companies that it will not invest in for human rights reasons… It appeared to be the first time that a pension fund of a large American church had taken such a step regarding the Israeli banks, which help finance settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territories.

And in April the Alliance of Baptists “affirmed the use of nonviolent boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) strategies and comprehensive education and advocacy programs to end the 49-year Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.”

Most recently, at its General Assembly in Portland last week the Presbyterian Church (USA) debated several measures to address the injustices taking place in Israel-Palestine. This is a continuation of a discussion from the June 2014 meeting, when it narrowly passed a divestment resolution. As the New York Times put it, “The vote, by a count of 310 to 303, was watched closely in Washington and Jerusalem and by Palestinians as a sign of momentum for a movement to pressure Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to end the occupation, with a campaign known as B.D.S., for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.” What we are seeing now is that that momentum has grown even stronger, and not only amongst Presbyterians.

Several overtures (resolutions) sponsored by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church were passed, including “Advocating for the Safety and Well-Being of Children of Palestine and Israel,” “Calling for the RE/MAX Corporation to Cease Selling Property in West Bank Settlements,” “On Prayerfully Studying the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)” and “For Human Values in the Absence of a Just Peace in Israel-Palestine.” It also urged Congress to hold hearings into the use of US military and police equipment by the government of Israel.

One other overture worth noting is “On Affirming Nonviolent Means of Resistance Against Human Oppression,” which points out that the PCUSA has a long history of using boycott and divestment as a way to side with those who are oppressed as well as to insure the integrity of its values and investments–the overture passed overwhelmingly in committee and in the plenary.

In its press release, IPMN noted two important aspects of the Assembly’s discussion. First, that CEO and co-founder of RE/MAX sent in a letter declaring, “RE/MAX, LLC will no longer receive any income from the sale of Jewish settlement properties in the West Bank.” Marita A. Mayer, who advocated for the overture, stated, “We’re pleased that RE/MAX is acknowledging that its operations in the occupied territories are problematic from a legal and moral point of view, but we’re waiting to see what this means in practical terms.” And with regard to BDS, IPMN notes, “the plenary of the General Assembly supported by over 70% a continuing study of the global grassroots BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement for Palestinian rights and freedom. Rejecting attempts to categorically reject BDS and choosing instead to engage in prayerful study, the General Assembly recognized the historic commitment of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to nonviolent strategies for social change.”

Geoff Browning, Peacemaking Advocate for the Presbytery of San Jose, told Salon :

We have made tremendous progress. We are working to educate the church about the suffering and injustice that is taking place, sometimes with our complicity of silence. I really believe that in order to advance the goal of divestment, we (the church, universities, etc.) are best served by asking our communities whether we want to profit from the harm caused to others. I sometimes hear opponents say something like, ‘Well, this is a complicated issue and we have no business taking sides or trying to resolve it. Our divestment won’t do anything to advance the cause of peace.’ Rather than trying to explain 60 years of occupation, I have found that it is much easier to simply say, ‘I agree that it’s complex, but can we agree not to profit from the suffering of others?’

And just a few months ago, the Unitarian Universalist Association divested from several companies due to their involvement in Israel’s occupation. As the advocacy group Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME) noted in a press release at the time:

The UUA has adopted a human rights screen focusing on conflict zones that includes human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories. The UUA subsequently divested from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HP Inc., and Motorola Solutions. The UUA has also divested from Caterpillar Inc., due to concerns over its environmental and social practices. These four companies have been the target of boycott and divestment campaigns due to their complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights.

At a time when politicians like Andrew Cuomo are not only not offering moral leadership on this issue, but rather exploiting it to carry out grandstanding (and illegal) acts, it is not surprising that these and other religious organizations are stepping up to fill that void. This is precisely what happened during the Civil Rights movement in the United States and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

In 2014, Archbishop Desmond Tutu made this plea at a demonstration for Palestinian rights in Capetown:

I asked the crowd to chant with me: “We are opposed to the injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestine. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing in Gaza. We are opposed to the indignity meted out to Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks. We are opposed to violence perpetrated by all parties. But we are not opposed to Jews.”

… I appealed to Israeli sisters and brothers present at the conference to actively disassociate themselves and their profession from the design and construction of infrastructure related to perpetuating injustice, including the separation barrier, the security terminals and checkpoints, and the settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.

“I implore you to take this message home: Please turn the tide against violence and hatred by joining the nonviolent movement for justice for all people of the region,” I said.

This act of refusing to be complicit with injustice, of breaking one’s ties to an oppressive regime, is what these religious organizations, and people of faith, are undertaking. And they are part of a much larger coalition of intellectuals, artists, writers, activists, trade unions, and organizations worldwide, appalled by the unfettered violence of the Occupation.
David Palumbo-Liu is the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor at Stanford University. Follow him on Twitter at @palumboliu.

See original: http://www.salon.com/2016/07/04/we_have_a_right_to_engage_in_non_violent_action_christian_leaders_refuse_to_be_silenced_in_struggle_for_palestinian_rights/

LA Times Editorial: Boycotts of Israel are a protected form of free speech

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 12:52

In recent months, a number of states have passed laws or taken other official actions to punish companies that participate in boycotts against Israel. California soon may do the same. But if it does, it will be making a mistake.

You don’t have to support the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to be troubled when state governments in this country penalize American citizens for their political speech. As the Supreme Court has recognized, boycotts are a form of speech, protected under the Constitution.

The BDS movement has been the subject of much heated debate in recent years. It calls on people and companies to boycott Israel until that country ends its occupation of “all Arab lands,” ensures equal legal rights for its Arab citizens and accepts the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the former homes of their families in Israel. Some supporters of BDS accept the “two-state solution” in which Israel and an independent Palestine would exist side by side; others don’t.

Although BDS hasn’t inflicted significant economic damage on Israel, the movement’s increasing visibility — especially on some American college campuses — has alarmed Israelis and their supporters in the United States. Many supporters of Israel have sought to portray the BDS movement as anti-Semitic.

One result has been a flurry of actions in state capitals, from a law in Illinois divesting state pension funds from companies refusing to do business in Israel or the Palestinian territories to an executive order by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo providing for the disinvestment by state agencies under his control from companies engaged in “boycott, divestment, or sanctions activity targeting Israel.” Most recently, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill barring the investment of state pension and annuity funds in companies that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses.

Do such laws violate the 1st Amendment? Although the Supreme Court has held that government may engage in its own “speech” and express its own opinions, it also has held that government may not deny a benefit to a person (or a company) because he holds the “wrong” opinion. In our view, denying state business to an otherwise qualified contractor simply based on its views about Israel — and its participation in a legal boycott — goes beyond “government speech” and raises serious constitutional concerns.

In California, the situation has grown even more complicated. Opponents of BDS in the Legislature previously proposed a bill that would have forbidden state contracts with companies engaged in a boycott of Israel. But after legal objections, the legislation was radically reconfigured.

The latest version, approved by a state Senate committee last week, no longer seeks to penalize boycotts directly. Rather, it targets violations of existing anti-discrimination laws that take place under the pretext of a boycott or other “policy” aimed at “any sovereign nation or people recognized by the government of the United States, including, but not limited to, the nation and people of Israel.” The bill would require any person who seeks to contract with the state to certify, under penalty of perjury, that it hasn’t engaged in discrimination as part of such a policy.

This shift to an emphasis on individual rights may solve some of the 1st Amendment problems in earlier versions, but it also raises the question of why this proposed law is necessary at all. The state’s Public Contract Code already says that contractors may not discriminate “on the basis of age, sex, pregnancy, maternity leave status, marital status, race, nationality, country of origin, ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, or political opinion.” Why is it necessary to reiterate what already is the law — and to throw in a specific mention of boycotts and Israel?

Also, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which a company boycott aimed at a “sovereign nation” would result in discrimination against an individual employee or customer. And if it were to happen, there already are laws on the books to address racial and religious harassment. One theory is that the law, if passed, might lead to a lawsuit claiming that a boycott created a “hostile workplace environment” for a Jewish employee. But that strikes us as a far-fetched claim.

The proponents of this bill are desperately eager to single out and punish companies that engage in boycotts against Israel. Realizing that their initial proposal ran contrary to the free speech protections guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, they have now come back with a convoluted, redundant and most likely ineffectual bill that allows them to say they’ve passed an anti-BDS bill.

In California, as elsewhere in this country, support for Israel is strong — which is why laws aimed at boycotts of the Jewish state are a solution in search of a problem.

Politicians are free to denounce BDS if they choose. But they must do so without infringing on the rights of their constituents.

See original: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-bds-bill-20160630-snap-story.html

Palestinian civil society condemns Turkey’s rapprochement with Israel

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 12:49

“The rapprochement agreement opens up the possibility of Israel exporting natural gas to Turkey and serves Israel’s desire to become a major energy exporter in the region.”

Do not fund Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid and its violations of Palestinian human rights

Occupied Palestine, 15 July 2016 — The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the broadest coalition in Palestinian civil society that leads the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, denounces the rapprochement agreement signed between Israel and Turkey as it undermines internationally sanctioned Palestinian rights and aspirations.

The BNC calls upon the Turkish government to refrain from collaborating with the Israeli regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid in its violations of Palestinian human rights. The BNC also calls upon Turkish oil and gas companies not to be complicit in the Israeli energy sector’s pillage of Palestinian and Syrian natural resources and its illegal denial of the right of Palestinians to access these resources.

While deeply appreciating widespread solidarity with Palestinian rights among the people of Turkey, the BNC condemns the Turkish government’s decision to deepen relations with Israel, rather than seek to hold it accountable for its war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Two years after Israel’s summer of 2014 massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, Turkey has abandoned a range of measures against Israel it imposed following the bloody attack on the Freedom Flotilla in 2010 in which nine humanitarian activists were killed by Israeli commandos. These measures included a suspension in military relations with Israel. Now Turkey has moved to normalise diplomatic relations with Israel without achieving the main condition that it had set for normalising relations, namely an end to Israel’s criminal siege on 1.8 million Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s disputed natural gas reserves

The discovery of large gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean could allow Israel to expand its influence in the region by becoming a major energy exporter. Israel is now seeking partners to which it can export its gas and through which its gas can reach the European markets, despite regional disputes on Israel’s claims to some gas fields and the potential legal quagmires that may result from them.

The Turkish-Israeli rapprochement agreement opens up the possibility of Israel exporting natural gas to Turkey. This has been a primary objective for the Israeli regime for several years and is manifest in Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s joint remarks with US Secretary of State John Kerry that the rapprochement has “immense [positive] implications for the Israeli economy”.

Netanyahu has emphasised that the rapprochement deal is of strategic importance to Israel as it would feed Israel’s coffers “with a huge fortune”. Israel had sought to export its natural gas finds to Jordan and Egypt against strong popular opposition.

There is an ongoing maritime border dispute between Israel and Lebanon over some of the discovered oil fields in the Mediterranean. Israel is seeking to prevent Lebanon from extracting gas sitting within Lebanon’s territorial waters. In the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, Israel has begun extracting oil in direct violation of international law and a 2006 UN resolution affirming the “inalienable rights” of the Syrian-Arab population in the Golan over its natural resources.

Any energy collaboration with Israel also serves to strengthen Israel’s deliberate attempts to prevent Palestinians from utilising Gaza’s gas reserves, which were discovered in 1999 less than 20 nautical miles off its coast. The Israeli siege imposes a six-mile limit on Palestinian territorial water, thus illegally prohibiting Palestinians from accessing and developing their natural gas resources for domestic supply and much needed domestic revenues.

Israeli government ministers have been caught on record saying that Israel’s siege and war on Gaza are linked to its plans for the gas reserves off the shores of Gaza. In the 2014 assault on Gaza, Israel murdered over 2,200 Palestinians and bombed the only power plant, leaving the besieged Strip under inhumane conditions with electricity cuts of more than 20 hours per day.

A report by Palestinian human rights organisation Al Haq notes that “The determined efforts of Israel to impede development in the OPT, by leasing rights over natural resources to corporations, violates the right to development as outlined in the Declaration on the Right to Development.” Al Haq adds, “Israel’s unlawful appropriation, exploitation and prevented development of oil and gas resources constitute plunder and further breach Palestine’s right to self-determination.”

The report makes clear that, “By their actions, international corporations and states concluding pipeline agreements to export gas from Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan fields […] will effectively support and profit from Israel’s continued illegal closure of Palestinian maritime waters.”

Any energy collaboration with Israel by Turkey or by Turkish oil and gas companies would aid, abet and fund Israel’s occupation, and expansion of illegal settlements and other human rights violations through the payment of royalties to the Israeli government.

The Israel-Turkey rapprochement agreement undermines efforts for achieving freedom, justice and dignity for the Palestinian people.

The BNC calls upon people in Turkey, who have a long history of supporting the struggle for Palestinian rights, to escalate BDS campaigns against Israel’s regime and corporations that enable its violations of international law and to oppose any public or private involvement by Turkey in Israel’s illegal plunder of Palestinian natural resources.

Eleven signs that BDS is building power despite Israel’s war of repression

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 17:52

Palestinian campaigners have launched popular boycott campaigns across the West Bank in recent months

The Palestinian-led, global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was launched eleven years ago as a nonviolent and effective means for progressive people and organisations across the world to support the struggle of the Palestinian people for our rights under international law.

Inspired by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the US Civil Rights movement, BDS today is widely recognized as having a strategic impact in challenging international support for Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people.

Having failed to stop the inspiring spread of mainstream support for the BDS movement across the world, Israel has launched a desperate and dangerous war of repression and demonization against the movement that reminds us of the darkest moments of McCarthyism in the US.

Nevertheless, support for BDS has not only continued to grow – it has accelerated. Western governments, leading political parties and the world’s largest human rights organizations have recently recognized BDS as a legitimate means of nonviolently advocating and campaigning for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.

What follows is a snapshot of developments in the BDS so far during 2016. We’ve also published round-ups of major BDS successes during 2014 and during 2015.

1. Our campaign for the #RightToBoycott is winning mainstream and government support

At Israel’s request, governments in the US, UK, France, Canada and elsewhere are seeking to repress BDS. Israel has banned BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti from travelling and says it may revoke his residency status.

Mainstream organisations and even governments recognise Israel’s repressive war against BDS as a dangerous challenge to fundamental freedoms.

Representatives of the Swedish, Irish and Dutch governments have publicly defended the right to advocate and campaign for Palestinian rights under international law through BDS, as have organisations including Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the American Civil Liberties Union.

More than 23,000 people signed our appeal to the UN regarding #RightToBoycott, and a related testimony was presented at the recent UN Human Rights Council.

Following the lead of other mainstream US newspapers, the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial on Tuesday titled Boycotts of Israel are a protected form of free speech.

Far from slowing down support for our BDS movement, Israel’s anti-democratic war of repression against has provided the movement with further exposure and newer audiences.

2. The Stop G4S campaign is building power and spreading across the world

#StopG4S action for Palestinian prisoners day 2016 in Lebanon

The international campaign to pressure G4S to end its role in Israel’s prison system, police, military, checkpoints and illegal settlements has made impressive new gains during 2016.

BDS campaigning has directly led to G4S losing contracts with 3 UN agencies in Jordan and a major retailer in Colombia and to a Kuwaiti government fund divesting from the company. This follows a series of campaign wins over the last two years that have seen companies, charities and investors across the world, from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the United Methodist Church, take similar steps.

Unions and campaign groups in the US, Egypt, Uruguay, Chile and Lebanon are stepping up their G4S campaigning, and the Stop G4S campaign is currently active in more than a dozen countries.

At its shareholder meeting in June, G4S repeated its March announcement that it intends to sell its Israeli subsidiary. However, the company has stopped short of guaranteeing it will end all aspects of its involvement in Israel’s prison systems or other human rights abuses.

3. Our campaigns against corporate complicity are more effective than ever

Campaigners in Bahia, Brazil, succeeded in getting the state authorities to end its collaboration with Israeli water company Mekorot

In January, French telecoms giant Orange ended its franchise deal with Partner Communications in response to campaigning in France and Egypt over Partner’s support for the Israeli occupation.

That same month, Irish company CRH sold its Israeli subsidiary Nesher Cement following public pressure over Nesher’s supply of cement to Israel’s apartheid wall and settlements.

Sportswear giant Reebok canceled a special edition sneaker celebrating “Israeli independence day” following a huge social media outcry.

In April, the Brazilian state of Bahia became the latest public body to end its collaboration with Israeli state water company Mekorot over its role in the theft of Palestinian water.

4. Local governments are joining the BDS movement and declaring themselves Israeli Apartheid Free Zones

More than 50 local municipalities in the Spanish state have voted to declare themselves to be Israeli Apartheid Free Zones.  

In France, the municipal council of Bondy, a Paris suburb, voted to “to no longer buy produce from Israeli settlements” and acknowledge the legitimacy of boycott as a tactic.

In the UK, the High Court last month ruled in favour of local councils who support a boycott of the Israeli occupation, upholding their right to do so in a court case initiated by an Israel lobby organisation.

5. Mainstream US churches are divesting from complicit companies

Church bodies and denominations across the US are taking decisions in support of divestment and other accountability measures against Israel’s regime of oppression.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has recently built on its 2014 vote in support of divestment from occupation profiteers by passing a series of Palestine motions including a call on US company RE/MAX to end involvement in the sale of houses in illegal Israeli settlements and a call for the “prayerful study” of the Palestinian call for BDS.

In January, the United Methodist Church announced it was divesting from Israeli banks that finance the occupation. The Alliance of Baptists announced in April that it will divest from companies that are complicit in Israeli occupation. The Conference of Major Superiors of Men, a group of Catholic leaders, issued a statement in support of boycott and divestment measures in March.

6. Support for academic boycott and BDS on campus continues to grow

Campaigners at the University of Chile during their successful referendum campaign

So far in 2016, student governments and associations at more than 10 US universities have voted to support divestment or other BDS measures.

In the UK, students at University College London and Edinburgh University have voted to make their student unions the latest to endorse BDS, and the National Union of Students Black Students Campaign voted to reaffirm its support for BDS and defend the BDS movement from the efforts of Israel and the UK government to repress it it. 

Campus activism is now growing across Latin America also: more than 200 Brazilian academics have pledged to support the academic boycott in January students at the University of Chile voted to support BDS.

7. The 12th Israeli Apartheid Week was the biggest yet

This year’s Israeli Apartheid Week was the biggest yet, with groups in over 225 cities and university campuses registering their participation. The growth of Israeli Apartheid Week in countries in Latin America and across the Arab world is particularly inspiring.

8. Major political parties are taking BDS-related action or supporting the right to BDS

In April, two separate Dutch political parties, D66 and the Green Left party, passed motions calling for sanctions on Israel.

Just last week, the Socialist International (SI) issued a declaration recognising the legitimacy and effectiveness of BDS. SI is an enormous association of over 150 socialist and social-democratic political parties from more than 100 countries across the world. It includes many parties in government, such as in Germany, South Africa, France, Chile, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, among others.

9. The world’s biggest trade unions continue to join and support the BDS movement

Some of the UK’s biggest trade unions recently supported the Stop G4S campaign by calling on the company to end its role in Israel’s prisons, checkpoints and military.

In May, the Uruguayan Federation of Workers of Services and Commerce (Fuecys) called for the boycott of Israeli products and for companies in Uruguay to break their ties with Israel’s apartheid regime.

10. The UN is creating a database of corporations enabling Israel’s occupation

On  March 24, the UN Human Rights Council took the unprecedented step of deciding to create a database listing all corporations whose business activities contribute to Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

11. The BDS movement is more inspiring and well-networked than ever

Looking at the growth and strength of our movement as it enters its twelfth year, we’re inspired by the determination and commitment of the incredible campaigners and organisations that make up our movement.

The Palestinian BDS movement is building new links and relationships with struggles for racial, gender, economic, social and climate justice across the world. There’s a growing understanding that that the struggle for Palestinian rights is part of the wider global struggle for a world based on freedom, justice, equal rights and comprehensive peace for all.

The BDS movement is inspiring Palestinians and people of conscience across the world to speak truth to power, to challenge hegemonic, racist power structures and to assert that Palestinian rights must be respected and implemented.  

 

Standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Gaza

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 17:39

Ten years of siege, two years since the 2014 Israeli massacre – it’s high time for accountability and for a two-way military embargo on Israel!

A message from the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broadest coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that leads the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

Two years ago today, Israel began a brutal military attack on Palestinians in Gaza in which more than 2,300 Palestinians were killed and 100,000 people were displaced.

Israel deliberately attacked entire civilian areas in Gaza and inflicted as much human suffering as it could. The UN and human rights organisations have documented Israel’s war crimes during the massacre.

Gaza has just entered its tenth year of siege, a policy described by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe as “incremental genocide.” The siege has almost entirely prevented meaningful reconstruction since the 2014 attack.

As Abdulrahman Abunahel, our coordinator in Gaza, puts it “One of my worries is that the longer Israel maintains its siege of the world’s largest open-air prison, the more the official international community adapts and accepts Israel’s gradual and deliberate reduction of Gaza into an uninhabitable prison camp where close to 2 million Palestinians face slow death.”

“But as a refugee living in Gaza, it is not enough to just call for the end to Israel’s siege. We need to keep growing our BDS campaigns until the Palestinian people can exercise our right to self-determination, including the right of refugees to return home.”

Help us get spread the word: click here to share our graphic about Gaza and the campaign for a military embargo on Facebook

Israel is able to carry out its brutal military attacks and repress Palestinian popular resistance with impunity. As our Links that Kill fact sheet sets out, Israel is only able to do this because of the massive weapons trade and military cooperation, including research, it maintains with countries across the world.

Over the period 2009-2018, the US is providing military aid to Israel worth $30bn. EU arms exports to Israel during 2014 alone were worth over $1bn (mostly from Germany) and its arms imports from Israel reached a whopping $1.6 bn in 2015.

While India, Colombia and Brazil remain among the top importers of Israeli weapons, it has been recently revealed that Israel has supplied weapons that were used in committing crimes against humanity in Rwanda and South Sudan, among others.

Israel uses its criminal attacks on Palestinians to test its military technology and then exports its weapons as “field tested”. Up to 85% of Israel’s military industry production is exported and 60% of the world’s drones are manufactured by Israel.

Israel is not just oppressing Palestinians – it is exporting its ruthless model of securitization and militarized repression to the world. From the streets of Ferguson to the favelas of Rio to the borders of Fortress Europe, Israeli weapons and ruthless techniques are used to maintain oppression.

Our campaign for a two-way military embargo on Israel is growing. More than a dozen banks have divested from Elbit Systems over its role in Israel’s military violence, for example. Please share our military embargo graphic on Facebook and check out our fact sheet for more ideas on how to get involved.

We just published a round-up of the impact and growth of the BDS movement so far in 2016.We’re inspired by the way our movement continues to grow and challenge international support for Israel’s crimes, despite Israel doing everything it can to attack and undermine our movement. Please take a look at the round-up and consider sharing it with your family, friends and colleagues.

Thank you for your continued support for our nonviolent struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)

Eleven signs that BDS is reaching the

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 17:02

Eleven signs that BDS is reaching the mainstream despite Israel’s war of repression

The Palestinian-led, global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was launched eleven years ago as a nonviolent and effective means for progressive people and organisations across the world to support the struggle of the Palestinian people for our rights under international law.

Inspired by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the US Civil Rights movement, BDS today is widely recognized as having a strategic impact in challenging international support for Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people.

Having failed to stop the inspiring spread of mainstream support for the BDS movement across the world, Israel has launched a desperate and dangerous war of repression and demonization against the movement that reminds us of the darkest moments of McCarthyism in the US.

Nevertheless, support for BDS has not only continued to grow – it has accelerated. Western governments, leading political parties and the world’s largest human rights organizations have recently recognized BDS as a legitimate means of nonviolently advocating and campaigning for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.

What follows is a snapshot of developments in the BDS so far during 2016. We’ve also published round-ups of major BDS successes during 2014 and during 2015.

1. Our campaign for the #RightToBoycott is winning mainstream and government support

At Israel’s request, governments in the US, UK, France, Canada and elsewhere are seeking to repress BDS. Israel has banned BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti from travelling and says it may revoke his residency status.

Mainstream organisations and even governments recognise Israel’s repressive war against BDS as a dangerous challenge to fundamental freedoms.

Representatives of the Swedish, Irish and Dutch governments have publicly defended the right to advocate and campaign for Palestinian rights under international law through BDS, as have organisations including Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the American Civil Liberties Union.

More than 23,000 people signed our appeal to the UN regarding #RightToBoycott, and a related testimony was presented at the recent UN Human Rights Council.

Following the lead of other mainstream US newspapers, the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial on Tuesday titled Boycotts of Israel are a protected form of free speech.

Far from slowing down support for our BDS movement, Israel’s anti-democratic war of repression against has provided the movement with further exposure and newer audiences.

2. The Stop G4S campaign is building power and spreading across the world

#StopG4S action for Palestinian prisoners day 2016 in Lebanon

The international campaign to pressure G4S to end its role in Israel’s prison system, police, military, checkpoints and illegal settlements has made impressive new gains during 2016.

BDS campaigning has directly led to G4S losing contracts with 3 UN agencies in Jordan and a major retailer in Colombia and to a Kuwaiti government fund divesting from the company. This follows a series of campaign wins over the last two years that have seen companies, charities and investors across the world, from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the United Methodist Church, take similar steps.

Unions and campaign groups in the US, Egypt, Uruguay, Chile and Lebanon are stepping up their G4S campaigning, and the Stop G4S campaign is currently active in more than a dozen countries.

At its shareholder meeting in June, G4S repeated its March announcement that it intends to sell its Israeli subsidiary. However, the company has stopped short of guaranteeing it will end all aspects of its involvement in Israel’s prison systems or other human rights abuses.

3. Our campaigns against corporate complicity are more effective than ever

The BDS movement is successfully pressuring some of the world’s largest multinationals to end their complicity in Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism.

In January, French telecoms giant Orange ended its franchise deal with Partner Communications in response to campaigning in France and Egypt over Partner’s support for the Israeli occupation.

That same month, Irish company CRH sold its Israeli subsidiary Nesher Cement following public pressure over Nesher’s supply of cement to Israel’s apartheid wall and settlements.

Sportswear giant Reebok canceled a special edition sneaker celebrating “Israeli independence day” following a huge social media outcry.

In April, the Brazilian state of Bahia became the latest public body to end its collaboration with Israeli state water company Mekorot over its role in the theft of Palestinian water.

4. Local governments are joining the BDS movement and declaring themselves Israeli Apartheid Free Zones

More than 50 local municipalities in the Spanish state have voted to declare themselves to be Israeli Apartheid Free Zones.  

In France, the municipal council of Bondy, a Paris suburb, voted to “to no longer buy produce from Israeli settlements” and acknowledge the legitimacy of boycott as a tactic.

In the UK, the High Court last month ruled in favour of local councils who support a boycott of the Israeli occupation, upholding their right to do so in a court case initiated by an Israel lobby organisation.

5. Mainstream US churches are divesting from complicit companies

Church bodies and denominations across the US are taking decisions in support of divestment and other accountability measures against Israel’s regime of oppression.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has recently built on its 2014 vote in support of divestment from occupation profiteers by passing a series of Palestine motions including a call on US company RE/MAX to end involvement in the sale of houses in illegal Israeli settlements and a call for the “prayerful study” of the Palestinian call for BDS.

In January, the United Methodist Church announced it was divesting from Israeli banks that finance the occupation. The Alliance of Baptists announced in April that it will divest from companies that are complicit in Israeli occupation. The Conference of Major Superiors of Men, a group of Catholic leaders, issued a statement in support of boycott and divestment measures in March.

6. Support for academic boycott and BDS on campus continues to grow

So far in 2016, student governments and associations at more than 10 US universities have voted to support divestment or other BDS measures.

In the UK, students at University College London and Edinburgh University have voted to make their student unions the latest to endorse BDS, and the National Union of Students Black Students Campaign voted to reaffirm its support for BDS and defend the BDS movement from the efforts of Israel and the UK government to repress it it. 

Campus activism is now growing across Latin America also: more than 200 Brazilian academics have pledged to support the academic boycott in January students at the University of Chile voted to support BDS.

7. The 12th Israeli Apartheid Week was the biggest yet

This year’s Israeli Apartheid Week was the biggest yet, with groups in over 225 cities and university campuses registering their participation. The growth of Israeli Apartheid Week in countries in Latin America and across the Arab world is particularly inspiring.

8. Major political parties are taking BDS-related action or supporting the right to BDS

In April, two separate Dutch political parties, D66 and the Green Left party, passed motions calling for sanctions on Israel.

Just last week, the Socialist International (SI) issued a declaration recognising the legitimacy and effectiveness of BDS. SI is an enormous association of over 150 socialist and social-democratic political parties from more than 100 countries across the world. It includes many parties in government, such as in Germany, South Africa, France, Chile, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, among others.

9. The world’s biggest trade unions continue to join and support the BDS movement

Some of the UK’s biggest trade unions recently supported the Stop G4S campaign by calling on the company to end its role in Israel’s prisons, checkpoints and military.

In May, the Uruguayan Federation of Workers of Services and Commerce (Fuecys) called for the boycott of Israeli products and for companies in Uruguay to break their ties with Israel’s apartheid regime.

10. The UN is creating a database of corporations enabling Israel’s occupation

On  March 24, the UN Human Rights Council took the unprecedented step of deciding to create a database listing all corporations whose business activities contribute to Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

11. The BDS movement is more inspiring and well-networked than ever

Looking at the growth and strength of our movement as it enters its twelfth year, we’re inspired by the determination and commitment of the incredible campaigners and organisations that make up our movement.

The Palestinian BDS movement is building new links and relationships with struggles for racial, gender, economic, social and climate justice across the world. There’s a growing understanding that that the struggle for Palestinian rights is part of the wider global struggle for a world based on freedom, justice, equal rights and comprehensive peace for all.

The BDS movement is inspiring Palestinians and people of conscience across the world to speak truth to power, to challenge hegemonic, racist power structures and to assert that Palestinian rights must be respected and implemented.  

 

Australians launch new campaign against Elbit Systems

Sun, 07/03/2016 - 22:31

Campaign page: http://psna.net.au/reject-elbit/

 

Would you fly our doctors using money from the arms trade?

Israel’s largest military equipment company, Elbit Systems, have been a target for successful divestment campaigns worldwide for their role in continuing the illegal occupation of Palestinian Territories.

Thanks to a deal brokered by the NSW state government, Elbit Systems will run a commercial flight simulator centre on the NSW Dubbo base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Elbit will contribute $10 million towards this training centre and will control the establishment, operations, training services and maintenance of the centre within the base. As a commercial enterprise Elbit will also train other clients at this facility.

Sign the Change.org Petition

Don’t make medicine a deadly occupation.

PSNA have written an open letter to the Royal Flying Doctor Service requesting that they immediately reconsider the arrangement with Elbit.

You can read it here: Open Letter to RFDS from PSNA

BNC oral statement at UN Human Rights Council

Sun, 07/03/2016 - 22:19

Human Rights Council, HRC 32, June 2016

Oral statement, item 7 (OPT)

Presented by Badil*

Mr. President,

Badil, al Haq, al Mizan and the Palestinian BDS National Committee wish to bring attention to the increasing Israeli attacks on the right to freedom of opinion and expression of individuals, groups, and associations defending the human rights of the Palestinian people, and to ensure the right of oppressed people to resist by legitimate means institutionalized discrimination, occupation and foreign domination.

In Israel and the OPT, civil society organisations acting as human rights defenders  are targeted for documenting Israeli human rights abuses, organizing non-violent protests, cooperating with the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, and campaigning for boycotts, divestment and sanctions. This work is integral in promoting respect of human rights, the rule of law, democracy, and the principles of IHL.

Human rights defenders face criminalization, travel bans, temporary forcible relocation and revocation of residency by Israel, violent attacks by Israeli citizens and death threats. The Israeli authorities and settlers enjoy impunity, including for acts of torture, arbitrary arrest, unlawful imprisonment, and violence.

In 2012, the previous Special Rapporteur, Frank La Rue, affirmed that the right to freedom of expression includes the right to call for peaceful boycotts. Nevertheless, the Israeli government is relentlessly attacking this right through campaigns of false allegations, lawsuits, and attempts to limit the access of human rights organizations and defenders to sources of finance. Further, Israel continues to lobby western governments to adopt legislation which curbs freedom of expression.

The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights have all called for respect of the right to boycott and protection of human rights defenders, in particular those of the BDS Movement. 

We therefore call to take all possible measures to ensure the protection of Palestinian and international human rights defenders, and of the right to call for BDS as a vehicle for the realization of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people, including that of self-determination and return of the refugees.

Thank You.

*Also presented to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Opinion and Expression by Badil

Report: Practices and Policies of Racial Discrimination by the Occupying Power in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Sun, 07/03/2016 - 22:10

Over time, and increasingly, the term “apartheid” has been used to describe the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). It is hardly surprising that use of the term brings with it a highly charged debate and strong sentiments, given the not so distant and dark history in southern Africa. This legal brief aims to provide a deeper understanding of the normative legal framework regulating and qualifying the debate on racial discrimination, and its relation to apartheid. It does not intend to fully appraise the copious volume of writing that has been produced on the topic thus far but, rather, to examine the relevant issues from the perspective of international law and its applicability in the oPt. More specifically, this brief will examine the rules prohibiting discrimination under both international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL), as well as the rules pertaining to racial discrimination, and its relation to apartheid. 1 First, this includes the applicability of IHL and IHRL to the oPt. Second, it analyzes the general prohibition against discrimination under both IHL and IHRL. Third, this brief examines the specific prohibitions against racial discrimination, as well as its relationship to apartheid. Fourth, it assesses the causal relationship between the settlement enterprise and the Occupying Power (OP) practices and policies of racial discrimination in the oPt. Fifth, it looks at third State obligations under international law. Finally, it concludes with a series of policy recommendations to third States.

Click here to access the full report by Diakonia

Free speech and justice: Defending the rights of the BDS movement

Sun, 07/03/2016 - 22:04

Jana Tamimi, a 10-year-old journalist-in-the-making from the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied Palestinian territory, asked me during the latest conference of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights held in Ramallah last April: “Given the terrible Israeli threats stacked against BDS lately, how can we keep the hope that it gives us alive?” Jana was referring to thinly-veiled official Israeli threats against the movement.

Jana is the youngest of many generations of her family who for years have been peacefully protesting for their freedom from Israel’s occupation and against the encroachment of illegal settlements built on their village’s land. In recent years, younger generations of Palestinians like Jana, who have lived their entire lives under occupation and the specter of a never-ending “peace” process, have found new hope for the future in the BDS movement for Palestinian rights.

I responded without hesitation, “Your very question gives us hope and determination to carry on.”

We maintain this optimism in the face of mounting attacks against BDS, particularly in the US, where the Israeli government and pressure groups have been intensifying efforts to suppress it. The latest broadside comes from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who recently issued an executive order that requires state agencies and authorities to divest from any company or entity that is perceived as supporting BDS.

The American Civil Liberties Union rejected the order, saying it “not only threatens to punish constitutionally protected political speech but also requires the state of New York to create a blacklist of allies of the movement.”

Cuomo’s order bypassed a proposed New York State bill to the same effect that had stalled in the legislature after opposition from the large Freedom to Boycott Coalition, which described it as “McCarthyite, anti-democratic and unconstitutional.”

Similar anti-BDS measures that have been passed by a number of state legislatures come in the context of a new top-down strategy adopted by Israel since 2014 to replace its failed previous strategy of dismissing the movement or fighting it with “branding.”

Ultimately, Israel is intent on not just colonizing our land but also our minds, searing into our consciousness the futility of hope and the impossibility of resisting its hegemonic and unjust order. Hope, after all, can be contagious. Despite decades of dispossession, occupation, and brutalities, Palestinians have not given up; we continue to resist oppression and to assert our quest for equal rights to all humans.

This is precisely why Israel is desperately trying to squelch the BDS movement which is kindling Palestinian aspirations through its effectiveness in shedding light on our denied rights and in showing a nonviolent path to realizing them.

Begun in 2005 by the broadest coalition in Palestinian civil society, BDS calls for ending Israel’s 1967 occupation, ending its institutionalized racial discrimination, which meets the UN definition of apartheid, and upholding the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and lands from which they were uprooted and dispossessed since 1948.

As support for BDS-related measures have spread among mainline churchesstudent governmentsacademic associationslabor unionsracial justice advocacy groups and LGBTQ networks, Israel started to recognize the “strategic” impact of the movement.

In the last few months alone, a domino effect has unfolded, with large multinationals, such as Veolia and Orange, withdrawing from Israeli projects that violate Palestinian human rights following BDS campaigns against them.

According to a poll released last December by the Brookings Institution, 49% of Democrats would support economic sanctions or more serious action against Israel due to settlement construction. The percentage of millennials who sympathize more with Palestinians has tripled over the last 10 years, and liberal Democrats’ support for Palestinian rights is at 40 percent–the highest in 15 years.

Jewish support for BDS among academics, artists and students has also risen remarkably. A 2014 poll by an Israel lobby group, for instance, reveals that 46% of non-Orthodox Jewish American men support a full boycott of Israel to end its violations of human rights.

What these numbers show us is that the ranks of Americans who are no longer ready to quietly bankroll Israel’s occupation and denial of Palestinian rights are expanding, particularly among those who share with us the principle that all humans are entitled to equal rights, irrespective of their identity.

But BDS alone cannot take full credit for Israel’s growing isolation. Israel’s behavior itself takes a lot of credit for this, as President Obama warned as early as 2013.

The 2015 election of Israel’s “most racist government” ever has inadvertently amplified support for Palestinian rights and for BDS tactics to attain them. Just a few weeks ago, Israel’s Chief Rabbi for the Sephardic community called for the ethnic cleansing of “non-Jews” from “the land of Israel.”

Leading Israeli political and military figures are deeply concerned about Israel’s descent into this abyss. Ehud Barak, a former prime minister, said Israel has been “infected with the seeds of fascism,” while the deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, has compared “revolting trends” in Israeli society to pre-Holocaust Nazi Germany.

Yet, Israel continues to enjoy impunity, and the US and Europe continue to shield it from accountability, supporting its chilling efforts to bully and intimidate those who campaign and advocate for Palestinian rights through nonviolent BDS tactics.

But BDS as a path to freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians thrives in people’s hearts and minds across the world, as the US Civil Rights movement and the South Africa anti-apartheid struggle did.

I am confident that after Jana Tamimi reads all this, she will realize that we are not alone. She will be even more hopeful, undeterred and beautifully inspiring. The darkest moment is the one that precedes the light.

Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights advocate and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian commentator and human rights activist, founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, and author of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (2011). Original article: http://www.salon.com/2016/06/30/free_speech_and_justice_defending_the_rights_of_bds_movement/

Europe still funding Israeli torture, drones and racial profiling

Sun, 07/03/2016 - 22:01

As European leaders are gathered in Brussels to discuss the future of the EU, they would be well advised to put into effect values of accountability, justice and solidarity – and halt funding for Israel’s repressive apparatus against Palestinians.

The EU has funnelled hundreds of millions of euros to sustain Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid through its research and development funding schemes.

Protests are currently growing against “Lawtrain”, a five million euro project funded by the EU that brings together the Israeli Ministry for Public Security and the Israeli National Police with their counterparts from Belgium, Portugal and Spain. Lawtrain sees companies, universities and research institutes coming together to develop technology that unifies methodology for police interrogations.

The UN Committee Against Torture in May once again exhorted Israel to outlaw torture andhighlighted ongoing practices of torture and ill-treatment in the interrogation process, in particular against Palestinian juveniles.

Children brutalised

A Palestinian report has shown that 97 percent of Palestinian minors in Israeli detention had no access to legal advice before and during questioning. During interrogation, 28.7 percent were subjected to verbal abuse or intimidation, solitary confinement or sexual assault, 27.5 percent were exposed to physical violence including choking, punching, and hitting the child’s head against the wall.

Yet European institutions are using taxpayers’ money in this four-year project, initiated from Israel, to develop software to enhance interrogation skills that builds on the experience of the Israeli police forces. They promote cooperation beyond so-called “gaps of culture, legislation, interrogation style”, normalise illegal interrogation methodologies and Israel’s system of control and military repression and assist in its maintenance. Lawtrain may even serve as a gateway for the proliferation of inhumane treatment into European justice systems.

In Portugal, civil society groups have launched a public campaign against their government’s participation in the project. The Portuguese Communist Party, on whose support the government depends, and the Green Party have asked the government to get out of the project it inherited from the past administration. In Belgium, civil society is mobilising and media in both countries have criticised the project.

Even within EU circles, cooperation with the Israeli police is controversial. In 2014, an EU working document proposed ending cooperation with the Israeli police, given that their headquarters are located in a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.

Last year, the European Council on Foreign Relations proposed similar measures. The Europol-Israel cooperation agreement seems stalled and faces ongoing criticism. The EU Commission’sresponse that “information obtained in obvious violation of human rights will not be processed” seems to ignore the reality that the Israeli system is built on human rights violations.

Unfortunately, Lawtrain is not the only project supporting the Israeli occupation in the almost €80 billion allocated to the EU’s research programme Horizon 2020.

Dual use deception

EU research funding is concentrated on large multinational companies involved in multiple projects, among them a number of military companies. Though EU rules forbid funding for military technology, its guidelines on dual use allow the development of military technology as long as the project itself is aimed at civil use.

Israel admits systematic military application of dual use capacity. As Isaac Ben-Israel, chairman of the Israel Space Agency, puts it: “Because we are a small country, if you build a small-satellite production line, say at IAI [Israeli Aerospace Industries], it will be used for military and for commercial.” Funding the Israeli military and security sector directly fuels its capacity to maintain Israel’s system of apartheid and occupation.

As long as the EU Commission continues to finance the development of Israeli capacity to implement gross violation of international law and human rights, all EU condemnations of Israeli illegal practices and foreign policy efforts remain futile exercises. Israel will continue to reject any effort to achieve peace and respect for international law, just as it has snubbed the current Paris Initiative for peace talks.

Between 2007 and 2013, the EU has financed over 1500 research and development projects with Israeli participation. Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) has participated in projects to develop unmanned vehicle technology, funded with almost 15 million euro.

Killer drones

The Oparus project has developed remote piloted aircraft, such as those provided by IAI for the military aggressions against Lebanon and Gaza, as well as thermal imaging technologies. Col. Desmond Travers, member of the UN fact finding mission on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009, has stated that “thermal imaging technologies are likely to have been used to identify high occupancy targets. Such targets arose when Palestinians fled to relatives or friends houses in areas of Gaza believed to be safe”.

According to UN reports and human rights groups, dozens of civilians have been killed by Israeli explosives fired on homes filled with people seeking refuge. IAI has been involved in another 15 projects, attracting total public funding of €148.55 million.

Elbit Systems is another major Israeli military company that has seen its technological contributions to grave violations of international law rewarded by the EU. One of the contractors for Israel’s illegal Wall and the main provider of drones to the Israeli military, the company is part of the Horizon 2020 Flysec project that aims to develop an integrated airport security process for passengers.

Elbit offers in this context its Lorros surveillance system as well as remote image processing technology, which are being used as part of Israel’s illegal Wall, to enforce the siege on Gaza and during Israeli military aggressions.

Flysec is also set to entrench a securitisation paradigm within our societies, where principles of non-discrimination, privacy and other human rights are abandoned in favour of an almost Orwellian system of control.

After Stockholm, Malmo and Copenhagen opposed Israeli inspections in their airports, and with official studies reporting on the level of racial profiling in Israeli security checks, EU support for a project that uses Israeli know-how for “more efficient background checks and passenger profiling” should never have been granted.

Tip of the iceberg

The Israeli example uncovers only the tip of the iceberg of the problems of money allocation through Horizon 2020. Accountability to citizens and human rights standards have never been at the top of the agenda. Far too often big business and their lobbies, including the Israeli military and security sector, have won the race for tax money distributed through EU funding schemes.

While the EU needs to change its rules, participants in the EU financed projects have their own moral, political and legal obligations.

Public and governmental bodies must respect their obligations under international law and their own constitutions. It is time for European citizens to demand not a penny more of their tax money be spent on Israeli military and security corporations and institutions, for governments to pressure the EU on its political and ethical inconsistencies and for the EU to mend its ways.

– Maren Mantovani is international outreach coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign and the Palestinian Land Defence Coalition.  

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

 

US Churches Advance Effective Solidarity with Palestinian Freedom, Justice and Equality

Sun, 07/03/2016 - 21:58

 

  • Presbyterian Church (USA) calls for studying Palestinian BDS call and engage with its authors in a landslide vote
  • 54% of Unitarian Universalists assembly vote for divestment against Israel’s occupation

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the broadest coalition in Palestinian civil society, would like to congratulate and thank the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly for their respective powerful votes in the last week advancing solidarity with Palestinian rights under international law within faith communities in the U.S.

In the past week, majorities in both denominations’ general conferences expressed strong support for nonviolent measures to uphold Palestinian human rights and end Israeli injustices  against the Palestinian people.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) assembly expanded on its historic 2014 decision to divest from US corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation and violations of international law by recommending to the Presbyterian Foundation and Board of Pensions to refrain from investments that support violence against Palestinians or Israelis.

Furthermore, it decisively voted to prayerfully study the BDS Call, issued by the absolute majority in Palestinian civil society in 2005, and to engage with its authors and sponsors.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) assembly overwhelmingly called on Israel to end its gross mistreatment of Palestinian Children and on Re/MAX to follow through on a recent promise to stop profiting from sales of homes in illegal Israeli settlements. It also called on Congress to hold hearings on the use of U.S. military and police equipment by the Israeli government.

The Unitarian Universalist General Assembly majority (54%) voted to endorse the Unitarian Universalist Association’s recent divestment from companies complicit in Israeli apartheid. While falling short of the 2/3 majority needed to pass the resolution, this majority vote showed clear support for the church’s prior action to divest from companies profiting from Israeli occupation and apartheid.

Other faith communities that have adopted economic measures against Israel’s occupation in the last 2 years include the United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Quakers, Mennonite Central Committee, the Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and the Alliance of Baptists.  

The BNC salutes the solidarity measures of the Presbyterian and Unitarian Universalists denominations and all their peace and justice loving members who voted for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. The BNC would like to especially thank members of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East for their leadership of these efforts and for their principled support for justice and human rights as essential conditions for establishing a comprehensive and sustainable peace.

 

I’m Jewish, and I want people to boycott Israel

Sun, 07/03/2016 - 21:51

In 2009, I was living in Tel Aviv during Operation Cast Lead. During that offensive, Israel killed about 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza. When small numbers of us went out into the streets to protest the war, we were often pelted with eggs or attacked by passersby. When I dropped my children off at their preschool, parents chatted as if nothing unusual was going on. When they asked me what was wrong, I would tell them I was deeply upset about what was happening just 40 miles away. Their response: awkward silence, or an angry defense of Israel’s actions.

I wanted to take concrete action to bring about freedom and full rights for Palestinians. So I embraced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. The non-violent effort, started in 2005 by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations, is a call for solidarity from the international community until Israel complies with international law and ends its violations of Palestinian rights. It’s hard going though — the governor of my own state, New York, recently condemned BDS in a unilateral executive order.

Seven years later, there have been two more horrific assaults on Gaza. About 500 Palestinian children were killed in 2014. Even when there are no intensive bombing campaigns, Palestinians in Gaza live under siege. West Bank residents are severely curtailed by Israel’s matrix of control in the area, including checkpoints, administrative detention and home demolitions. Inside Israel, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live in a system of unequal laws and rights. Outside of Israel, refugees cannot return home.

Of course, during this time there have been attacks on Israeli civilians too. These are a horrifying symptom of ongoing occupation and repression, as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai pointed out after a recent attack in Tel Aviv killed four Jewish Israelis.

I believe that Israel won’t change its policies until outside pressure becomes impossible to ignore. BDS is a powerful way to encourage the state to act. And during my time with the movement, we’ve had growing success. Mainstream churches have divested from companies profiting from the occupation. Dozens of American campuses have passed divestment resolutions. More than 100 artists refuse to perform in Israel, and multinational corporations like G4S and Veolia have withdrawn from the Israeli market.

During this time, there’s also been a shift in public opinion. A 2015 Brookings Institute poll found that 49 percent of Democrats support imposing economic sanctions against Israel over settlement construction. A Pew poll released last month found that for the first time, liberal Democrats were more sympathetic to Palestinians than to Israelis. In May, the research firm Ipsos found that one-third of Americans support the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until it respects Palestinian rights.

But our efforts have been threatened here in the United States by a nationally coordinated, well-funded strategy financed by the Israeli government and advocacy organizations. Over the last year, 22 states have introduced or passed anti-BDS legislation. Many of these measures make it illegal for states to do business with companies that support BDS. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has escalated that strategy with a draconian executive order that would create a blacklist of companies and organizations that choose not to invest in Israel or that advocate for BDS. Cuomo’s executive order circumvented the state legislature, where opposition from supporters of Palestinian rights and free speech, including many members of Jewish Voice for Peace, had successfully stalled the anti-BDS legislation in committee.

This is wrong. It’s not discrimination to hold a state accountable for its violations of international law and human rights abuses. The state of Israel is not the same as the Jewish people.

My daughters who I dropped off at preschool in Tel Aviv in 2009 are now middle-schoolers in Brooklyn. If as Israeli citizens they choose someday to live in Israel/Palestine, I hope it will be a place where all people, Jewish and Palestinian, can live in equality and freedom. I believe that BDS is the best tool that we have to make that vision a reality. We will look back on the attempts to legislate against BDS as the last desperate attempts to shield Israel from much-needed pressure to change its policies. Cuomo is standing on the wrong side of history.

Original article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/06/24/im-jewish-and-i-want-people-to-boycott-israel/?postshare=2781466794164630&tid=ss_fb

Andrew Cuomo’s BDS Blacklist Is a Clear Violation of the First Amendment

Sun, 07/03/2016 - 21:01

G overnors have significant authority in issuing executive orders, and in many situations, they do so to circumvent legislative roadblocks. But executive orders cannot wish away the Constitution.

This, however, is precisely what New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to do when he signed Executive Order 157 on June 5. The executive order requires the state to create a blacklist of institutions and companies that engage in or promote boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) activities against Israel—and then further requires the state to withdraw or forgo investments in these blacklisted entities. The move has earned well-deserved comparisons to the red-scare tactics of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. It is also unconstitutional.

RELATED ARTICLE IS NEW YORK STATE ABOUT TO CREATE A BLACKLIST OF BDS SUPPORTERS?

Rahul Saksena

Cuomo announced Executive Order 157 unexpectedly, after months of wrangling in the New York state legislature around two similar bills. He seems to have been spurred to action after the legislature’s efforts foundered amid opposition from more than a hundredactivist and civil-liberties groups. Indeed, the governor explicitly said he chose to deploy the executive order as a way to accomplish, with a stroke of his pen, what the legislature could not accomplish in its legislative session, presumably because of all of the constitutional and political concerns constituents raised. Now he is encouraging other governors to do the same.

“If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you,” Cuomo wrote in a June 10 op-ed in The Washington Post in which he attempted to justify his executive action as both righteous and constitutional. Wildly misrepresenting the BDS movement as a “politics of discrimination, hatred and fear,” he cast it as “new brand of warfare” and linked it, bizarrely, to terrorism. In perhaps the most preposterous distortion, he insinuated that BDS was the province of “those who reject our way of life”—a phrase that sounds more akin to the reckless jingoism of George W. Bush than a Democratic governor talking about a grassroots boycott movement.

In fact, BDS fits within the highest traditions of protest in the United States. Based on a 2005 call from Palestinian civil society, BDS is a tactic to pressure Israel to comply with and respect international law by ending its nearly five-decade military occupation, granting equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respecting the internationally enshrined right of return of Palestinian refugees. At a moment when all diplomatic efforts have failed, BDS offers a nonviolent way of getting Israel to face up to its responsibilities to the millions of Palestinians it continues to control by military force, the millions it discriminates against on a daily basis, and the millions more it has dispossessed over nearly seven decades. Its inspirations are the movement supporting the South African call for BDS against South Africa’s apartheid regime as well as civil-rights boycotts and farm-worker boycotts in the United States.

As such, legal groups—including my organization Palestine Legal, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the National Lawyers Guild—have made clear that BDS falls squarely in the realm of constitutionally protected activity. Fundamentally, boycotts that are designed to “bring about political, social and economic change” involve protected First Amendment activities of speech, assembly, association and petition. The Supreme Court confirmed this in NAACP v. ClaiborneHardware Co. in 1982, a case brought by boycotted white business owners against the NAACP and other activists in Mississippi at the height of the civil-rights era in 1969. In its unanimous decision, the Court found that state action “against a nonviolent, politically motivated boycott designed to force governmental and economic change and to effectuate rights” could not be justified. Targeting the BDS movement, which has as its end forcing governmental action to achieve freedom and equality for Palestinians, similarly cannot be justified.

Those who defend Cuomo’s order and similar legislation attacking BDS attempt to strip BDS of this First Amendment protection by claiming it is discriminatory conduct—that it targets Israelis because of their national origin—not political speech. But BDS efforts, which target an array of entities in an effort to halt Israel’s injustices against Palestinians, are no more discriminatory than a boycott of white businesses in Mississippi to address historical injustices against its black citizens.

From this legal basis, Cuomo’s order presents further constitutional problems. By requiring that state agencies divest money and assets from entities because they express certain views, the order imposes an unconstitutional condition on the receipt of state benefits. The government cannot condition financial benefits on a requirement that a recipient adopt or renounce a certain political position. Imagine an institution having to renounce its divestment from fossil-fuel companies in order for it to be eligible for state investments. Admittedly, it doesn’t mean it can’t divest from fossil fuels, but it means that if it does, it will face consequences.

Cuomo’s move has earned well-deserved comparisons to the red-scare tactics of Senator McCarthy. It is also unconstitutional.

The order’s requirement that the state create a blacklist of companies and institutions that promote or engage in BDS also presents a blatant effort to chill First Amendment–protected activities. The order is so vague and open to interpretation that people have no idea what actions would qualify an institution for the blacklist. What constitutes “promoting” a boycott? Is a Facebook post publicizing a boycott sufficient to get you on the list? Signing a petition? Whom will the state hire to make these determinations?

* * *

There is an undeniable irony in Cuomo’s eagerness to punish Israel-related boycott activity. He knows that boycotts are time-honored ways to engage in collective action against injustice. In fact, executive orders 155 and 156—the two Cuomo signed prior this one—were themselves issued in support of boycotts. In the first instance, Cuomo barredstate employees from traveling to North Carolina and breaking the picket line against the state for its attack on the transgender community; in the second, he barred state employees from traveling on the state’s dime to Mississippi, following that state’s enactment of a law condoning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Yet Cuomo is not alone. His move, along with comparable laws that have been passed in other states, is part of an unprecedented assault on our First Amendment rights to speak out and to take collective action to advance Palestinian rights without fear of government sanction. Indeed, we have never seen legislative efforts of this magnitude deployed to silence and intimidate human-rights activists by blacklisting them and leveraging states’ economic power against boycotts.

So far, anti-BDS laws have been enacted in nine states: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, and Arizona. At least nine other states have considered or are considering anti-BDS legislation this year, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and California. This doesn’t include county-level anti-BDS laws, including one recently passed in Nassau County, New York. One such law was ultimately rejected in New Castle, Delaware.

The legislation is being pushed by an array of Israel advocacy groups, including StandWithUs, the American Jewish Committee, and local Jewish Federations, among others. Representatives of many such organizations, including AIPAC, were present when Cuomo signed the executive order. Tellingly, the legislation is also being championed by right wing groups such as the American Center for Law and Justice, whose agenda includes opposing women’s reproductive rights, immigrant rights and LGBTQ rights, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which was a primary force opposing divestment from Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. And the right-wing Christian Zionist group Proclaiming Justice To the Nations has also taken credit for anti-BDS legislation, and has said it is working in dozens of states to get bills passed. One Jewish community relations expert admitted to Haaretz that advocacy by these groups had been critical to politicians’ interest in the legislation. “The notion that there are state legislators initiating action on a foreign policy issue without some approach by us in the community is implausible,” he told the newspaper.

Earlier this week, on June 21, Palestine Legal, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Jewish Voice for Peace, filed a Freedom of Information Law request in New York in order to begin to understand what precipitated Cuomo’s executive order. We expect to receive documents exposing the extent to which Cuomo’s move was influenced by Israel advocacy groups, and even Israeli officials, whose interest is to silence a grassroots human-rights movement in order to shield Israel from scrutiny.

It has been particularly dispiriting to see that some of these very same Jewish organizations now championing the wave of legislation penalizing BDS efforts once stood as exemplars of a very different ethos: They supported the NAACP’s right to boycott white businesses in Mississippi. In a 1981 amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting the NAACP’s 1960s boycott, the American Jewish Congress stated that the tactic of boycotts is consistent with the “long tradition of political protest” in the United States, and that boycotts are a “moral obligation.” It enumerated the times when the organization itself “employed picketing and, where appropriate, boycotting” to protest injustices, including “the 1930s boycott against Nazi Germany…supporting boycotts of farm and textile products in connection with labor disputes.”

It is a travesty that Cuomo and others are putting Israel’s interests in stopping boycotts above the constitutional rights of people in the United States. But dismissing the BDS movement as anti-Semitic, as Senator Chuck Schumer recently did when he vowed to emulate Cuomo’s effort in Congress, will not work, as more people refuse to ignore Israel’s outrageous treatment of Palestinians and this country’s support for it. The 2005 call from Palestinian civil society to stand up for Palestinian freedom and equality with the power of collective action is being answered around the United States. Students, scholars, labor unions, churches, and other institutions are signing on to BDS efforts.

Cuomo’s actions are part of an unprecedented assault on our First Amendment rights to speak out for Palestinian rights without fear of government sanction.

In turn, Israel and its defenders in the United States are pouring energy and resources into bludgeoning this growing grassroots movement into silence and inaction. As the Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights thoroughly documented in our 2015 report, ThePalestine Exception to Free Speech, Israel advocacy groups in the United States use their heavy weight to pressure government actors and public and private institutions into condemning, censoring, and punishing advocacy for Palestinian rights.

Such a reaction is a testament to the increasing effectiveness of the BDS movement in shattering the sense of business-as-usual in Israel and the United States. It is also a testament to how far organizations like the AJC have veered from their days as champions of freedom, justice, and equality for oppressed populations in the United States.

We can at least be grateful that the AJC weighed in then, and helped to ensure that boycotts—even those that it now dislikes—are First Amendment–protected activity. History will eventually recognize their efforts to punish collective action for human rights as craven and wrong. And we expect the courts will do so too.

Original article: https://www.thenation.com/article/andrew-cuomos-bds-blacklist-is-a-clear-violation-of-the-first-amendment/

UK high court rules in favour of local councils who support boycott of Israeli occupation

Fri, 07/01/2016 - 14:49

More than 150,000 joined a protest in London against Israel’s 2014 massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and there were large mobilisations across the UK

  • UK High Court rules in favor of local councils taking action in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
  • French local council near Paris votes to boycott illegal Israeli settlement produce

The High Court in the UK has dealt a blow to a pro-Israel group attempting to stifle local councils from taking action in solidarity with the Palestinian people and ruled in favour of three councils who passed resolutions in support of targeted boycotts of Israel’s occupation.

The so-called Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW), an Israel lobby group, judicially challenged Leicester city council, Swansea city council and Gwynedd council over democratically passed resolutions in support of a boycott of illegal Israeli settlements’ produce.

Lord Justice Simon dismissed all charges made by JHRW, including the claim that the resolutions breached equality law obligations, and failed to take into account “the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment of Jewish people.”

Riya Hassan, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) Europe campaigns’ officer, welcomed the news saying:

“This High Court ruling deals a serious blow to the efforts by Israel and its pressure groups to attack local democracy in the UK and the right of local councils to take effective action to end complicity in Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”

“As with their case against the academic union UCU over its support for BDS measures, supporters of Israel’s regime of oppression who fail to win democratic votes in their attempts to suppress solidarity with the Palestinian people end up going to court, only to fail there as well.”

“We look forward to working with councilors and local democracy campaigners to ensure that more local councils across the UK take steps in line with their fiduciary duty and ethical obligations not to invest in grave violations of human rights.”  

The UK court decision follows news from France of a majority vote on June 23rd by the municipal council of Bondy, a Paris suburb, “to no longer buy produce from Israeli settlements.”

An overwhelming majority of Bondy councilors voted for condemning the escalating repressive and anti-democratic attacks against Palestine solidarity activists and the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in France.

The motion asserted that “It is a legitimate civil right to be able to accept or refuse to buy merchandise according to its origin.”

The BDS movement, inspired by the South African anti-apartheid struggle and the U.S. Civil Rights movement, calls for nonviolent pressure in the academic, cultural military and economic domains to isolate Israel’s regime until it complies with international law and respects Palestinian rights.  

The Bondy council joins a growing number of local councils across Europe, especially in Spain, that are determined to respond to the Palestinians call for solidarity and hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and human rights.

Over the past two years over 50 local councils from across the Spanish state have passed BDS-related motions in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Riya Hassan said, “This resolution in France is further a testament to the wide support for BDS as the most effective form of solidarity with the Palestinian people, despite well sustained Israel-induced attacks on the movement. ”

Israel’s war of repression on the BDS movement

Israel’s failure to hinder the impressive upsurge in support and impact of the Palestinian-led BDS movement in mainstream civil society has prompted it to admit the strategic impact of BDS and launch an unprecedented anti-democratic campaign to silence Palestinian narratives and outlaw BDS advocacy.

The Israeli-induced attacks on the BDS movement are advanced through putting pressure on governments, legislators and officials to fight BDS activity through implementing repressive measures that pose a threat to civil and political liberties at large.  

JHRW and the UK’s Conservative government have both sought to restrict the ability of local councils to take action in support of Palestinian rights in recent months as part of a wider effort by Israel to undermine the BDS movement.

In February, the UK government announced new rules regarding how local councils take procurement decisions, although they do not prevent councils from boycotting companies such as G4S that violate human rights.

New rules that seek to restrict councils from divesting from Israeli companies and arms companies are expected to be published later this year but have been met with widespread opposition from human rights organisations, unions and Palestine campaign groups.

More than 350 European human rights organizations, trade unions, church groups and political parties, have called on the European Union to defend citizens and organisations right to boycott Israel in response to its occupation and violations of Palestinian rights.

Representatives of the Swedish, Irish and Dutch governments have publicly defended the right to advocate and campaign for Palestinian rights under international law through BDS.

Kuwait’s Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) Divests its Funds from Global Security Giant G4S Following Sustained BDS Pressure

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 14:04

The Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) in Kuwait has decided, as reported in the Kuwaiti media, to divest its funds from G4S, a company that is profiting from the Israeli occupation and has a notorious record of human rights abuses. The decision comes following calls from BDS Kuwait and the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, on PIFSS to divest from G4S.

Earlier in May, a parliamentary inquiry by Kuwaiti MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan directed to the Ministry of Finance was submitted raising questions about the nature of the shares that PIFSS held in G4S, a company that is profiting from Israeli international law violations committed against the Palestinian people. In his response to the parliamentary inquiry, the Kuwaiti Minister of Finance, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the PIFSS, confirmed that PIFSS has sold all its shares in G4S.

Guman Mussa, BDS Campaigns Coordinator in the Arab World, welcomed the new victory against G4S saying: “The decision of PIFSS in Kuwait to respond to a call made by Palestinian civil society and BDS Kuwait affirms that the Palestinian cause is part and parcel of the consciousness of the Kuwaiti people. Kuwait shines a glimmer of hope against normalization with Israel’s regime of occupation and settler-colonialism”.

G4S, a British-Danish security company that operates in more than 125 countries around the world, had announced in March its intention to exit the Israeli market following mounting global pressure and financial losses incurred as a result of BDS campaigns. Nonetheless, the company has gained an ill-famed reputation not only due to the human rights abuses in which it is involved but also for repeatedly contradicting its promises to divest from the Israeli occupation. This has led BDS campaigners to accuse the company of dishonesty and deception. Since the March announcement, BDS campaigns against G4S have been escalating globally, not least in the Arab world.

Mussa added: “We shall continue with our campaigns against G4S both globally and in the Arab world due to its complicity in crimes committed by the occupation, knowing that BDS activists – from Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan to Egypt and Morocco – are escalating the pressure against the company.”

“G4S clients in the region are responding positively to the campaign. Many have assured us that they are seriously exploring the possibility of severing their relationship with G4S due to its role in Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.”

Commenting on the news, BDS Kuwait stated: “Kuwait has always been and still is at the forefront of supporting the Palestinians in their struggle for freedom, justice and self-determination. The decision by PIFSS rightly distances Kuwait from any suspicion of involvement with companies profiting from occupation and reaffirms Kuwait’s commitment to the rights of the Palestinian people as well as our responsibility as Kuwaitis to combat normalization”.

Mussa concluded: “G4S claimed it was withdrawing from Israel ‘for entirely commercial reasons’, but that is the very logic of the BDS campaigns for corporate accountability. As was the case at the height of the international boycott of apartheid South Africa, BDS pressure, as this latest success in Kuwait shows, is making some of the world’s largest corporations realize that profiting from Israel’s regime of oppression is becoming commercially untenable”.

Background Information

– G4S announced in March 2016 that it will end all its contracts with the Israeli military, prison services, police and settlements. The Financial Times reported that G4S was “extracting itself from reputationally damaging work.”

– If BDS compels G4S to follow through with its announcement by ending all forms of complicity in Israel’s violations of international law, G4S would become the fourth multinational to abandon the Israeli market, in less than a year, due to heavy losses and/or reputational risk.

– In September 2015, French corporate giant Veolia set the trend by selling off all of its businesses in Israel after losing tenders and contracts worth billions of dollars following a seven-year BDS campaign against its role in illegal Israeli settlement projects.

– Irish building materials corporation CRH has more recently exited the Israeli market, selling off its 25% stake in the Israeli occupation-profiteer Nesher Cement.

– French telecommunications giant Orange announced earlier this year the termination of its franchise relationship with Israeli Partner Communications, after intense BDS pressure in France and Egypt.

– In a related major development, the $20-billion pension fund of the United Methodist Church declared in January 2016 the five largest Israeli banks off limits for investment and divested from the two that it held in its portfolios.

– The Israel Export Institute has revealed that Israel’s exports in 2015 have dropped by 7% over 2014.

Foreign direct investment in Israel dropped by 46% in 2014 as compared to 2013, according to a UN report. One of the report’s authors admitted that BDS played a key role in this sharp drop.

Moody’s, a leading credit ratings agency, warns: “the Israeli economy could suffer should BDS gain greater traction.”

– In addition to abandoning its Israeli contracts, G4S announced in March it was selling its mass incarceration businesses that operate youth detention centers in the UK and the US. It is accused by campaigners of involvement in racist and abusive practices.

Gaza in Arizona: How Israeli High-Tech Firms Will Up-Armor the US-Mexico Border

Sun, 06/19/2016 - 21:07

It was October 2012. Roei Elkabetz, a brigadier general for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was explaining his country’s border policing strategies. In his PowerPoint presentation, a photo of the enclosure wall that isolates the Gaza Strip from Israel clicked onscreen. “We have learned lots from Gaza,” he told the audience. “It’s a great laboratory.”

Elkabetz was speaking at a border technology conference and fair surrounded by a dazzling display of technology—the components of his boundary-building lab. There were surveillance balloons with high-powered cameras floating over a desert-camouflaged armored vehicle made by Lockheed Martin. There were seismic sensor systems used to detect the movement of people and other wonders of the modern border-policing world. Around Elkabetz, you could see vivid examples of where the future of such policing was heading, as imagined not by a dystopian science fiction writer but by some of the top corporate techno-innovators on the planet.

Swimming in a sea of border security, the brigadier general was, however, not surrounded by the Mediterranean but by a parched West Texas landscape. He was in El Paso, a 10-minute walk from the wall that separates the United States from Mexico.

Just a few more minutes on foot and Elkabetz could have watched green-striped US Border Patrol vehicles inching along the trickling Rio Grande in front of Ciudad Juarez, one of Mexico’s largest cities filled with US factories and the dead of that country’s drug wars. The Border Patrol agents whom the general might have spotted were then being up-armored with a lethal combination of surveillance technologies, military hardware, assault rifles, helicopters, and drones. This once-peaceful place was being transformed into what Timothy Dunn, in his book The Militarization of the US Mexico Border, terms a state of “low-intensity warfare.”
The Border Surge

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration reform. Addressing the American people, he referred to bipartisan immigration legislation passed by the Senate in June 2013 that would, among other things, further up-armor the same landscape in what’s been termed—in language adopted from recent US war zones—a “border surge.” The president bemoaned the fact that the bill had been stalled in the House of Representatives, hailing it as a “compromise” that “reflected common sense.” It would, he pointed out, “have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents, while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.”

In the wake of his announcement, including executive actions that would protect five to six million of those immigrants from future deportation, the national debate was quickly framed as a conflict between Republicans and Democrats. Missed in this partisan war of words was one thing: the initial executive action that Obama announced involved a further militarization of the border supported by both parties.

“First,” the president said, “we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings and speed the return of those who do cross over.” Without further elaboration, he then moved on to other matters.

If, however, the United States follows the “common sense” of the border-surge bill, the result could add more than $40 billion dollars worth of agents, advanced technologies, walls, and other barriers to an already unparalleled border enforcement apparatus. And a crucial signal would be sent to the private sector that, as the trade magazine Homeland Security Today puts it, another “treasure trove” of profit is on the way for a border control market already, according to the latest forecasts, in an “unprecedented boom period.”

Like the Gaza Strip for the Israelis, the US borderlands, dubbed a “constitution-free zone” by the ACLU, are becoming a vast open-air laboratory for tech companies. There, almost any form of surveillance and “security” can be developed, tested, and showcased, as if in a militarized shopping mall, for other nations across the planet to consider. In this fashion, border security is becoming a global industry and few corporate complexes can be more pleased by this than the one that has developed in Elkabetz’s Israel.
The Palestine-Mexico Border

Consider the IDF brigadier general’s presence in El Paso two years ago an omen. After all, in February 2014, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency in charge of policing our borders, contracted with Israel’s giant private military manufacturer Elbit Systems to build a “virtual wall,” a technological barrier set back from the actual international divide in the Arizona desert. That company, whose US-traded stock shot up by 6% during Israel’s massive military operation against Gaza in the summer of 2014, will bring the same databank of technology used in Israel’s borderlands—Gaza and the West Bank—to Southern Arizona through its subsidiary Elbit Systems of America.

With approximately 12,000 employees and, as it boasts, “10+ years securing the world’s most challenging borders,” Elbit produces an arsenal of “homeland security systems.” These include surveillance land vehicles, mini-unmanned aerial systems, and “smart fences,” highly fortified steel barriers that have the ability to sense a person’s touch or movement. In its role as lead system integrator for Israel’s border technology plan, the company has already installed smart fences in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

In Arizona, with up to a billion dollars potentially at its disposal, CBP has tasked Elbit with creating a “wall” of “integrated fixed towers” containing the latest in cameras, radar, motion sensors, and control rooms. Construction will start in the rugged, desert canyons around Nogales. Once a DHS evaluation deems that part of the project effective, the rest will be built to monitor the full length of the state’s borderlands with Mexico. Keep in mind, however, that these towers are only one part of a broader operation, the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan. At this stage, it’s essentially a blueprint for an unprecedented infrastructure of high-tech border fortifications that has attracted the attention of many companies.

This is not the first time Israeli companies have been involved in a US border build-up. In fact, in 2004, Elbit’s Hermes drones were the first unmanned aerial vehicles to take to the skies to patrol the southern border. In 2007, according to Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine, the Golan Group, an Israeli consulting company made up of former IDF Special Forces officers, provided an intensive eight-day course for special DHS immigration agents covering “everything from hand-to-hand combat to target practice to ‘getting proactive with their SUV.'” The Israeli company NICE Systems even supplied Arizona’s Joe Arpaio,”America’s toughest sheriff,” with a surveillance system to watch one of his jails.

As such border cooperation intensified, journalist Jimmy Johnson coined the apt phrase “Palestine-Mexico border” to catch what was happening. In 2012, Arizona state legislators, sensing the potential economic benefit of this growing collaboration, declared their desert state and Israel to be natural “trade partners,” adding that it was “a relationship we seek to enhance.”

In this way, the doors were opened to a new world order in which the United States and Israel are to become partners in the “laboratory” that is the US-Mexican borderlands. Its testing grounds are to be in Arizona. There, largely through a program known as Global Advantage, American academic and corporate knowhow and Mexican low-wage manufacturing are to fuse with Israel’s border and homeland security companies.
The Border: Open for Business

No one may frame the budding romance between Israel’s high-tech companies and Arizona better than Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “If you go to Israel and you come to Southern Arizona and close your eyes and spin yourself a few times,” he says, “you might not be able to tell the difference.”

Global Advantage is a business project based on a partnership between the University of Arizona’s Tech Parks Arizona and the Offshore Group, a business advisory and housing firm which offers “nearshore solutions for manufacturers of any size” just across the border in Mexico. Tech Parks Arizona has the lawyers, accountants, and scholars, as well as the technical knowhow, to help any foreign company land softly and set up shop in the state. It will aid that company in addressing legal issues, achieving regulatory compliance, and even finding qualified employees—and through a program it’s called the Israel Business Initiative, Global Advantage has identified its target country.

Think of it as the perfect example of a post-NAFTA world in which companies dedicated to stopping border crossers are ever freer to cross the same borders themselves. In the spirit of free trade that created the NAFTA treaty, the latest border fortification programs are designed to eliminate borders when it comes to letting high-tech companies from across the seas set up in the United States and make use of Mexico’s manufacturing base to create their products. While Israel and Arizona may be separated by thousands of miles, Rothschild assured TomDispatchthat in “economics, there are no borders.”

Of course, what the mayor appreciates, above all, is the way new border technology could bring money and jobs into an area with a nearly 23% poverty rate. How those jobs might be created matters far less to him. According to Molly Gilbert, the director of community engagement for the Tech Parks Arizona, “It’s really about development, and we want to create technology jobs in our borderlands.”

So consider it anything but an irony that, in this developing global set of boundary-busting partnerships, the factories that will produce the border fortresses designed by Elbit and other Israeli and US high-tech firms will mainly be located in Mexico. Ill-paid Mexican blue-collar workers will, then, manufacture the very components of a future surveillance regime, which may well help locate, detain, arrest, incarcerate, and expel some of them if they try to cross into the United States.

Think of Global Advantage as a multinational assembly line, a place where homeland security meets NAFTA. Right now there are reportedly 10 to 20 Israeli companies in active discussion about joining the program. Bruce Wright, the CEO of Tech Parks Arizona, tells TomDispatch that his organization has a “nondisclosure” agreement with any companies that sign on and so cannot reveal their names.

Though cautious about officially claiming success for Global Advantage’s Israel Business Initiative, Wright brims with optimism about his organization’s cross-national planning. As he talks in a conference room located on the 1,345-acre park on the southern outskirts of Tucson, it’s apparent that he’s buoyed by predictions that the Homeland Security market will grow from a $51 billion annual business in 2012 to $81 billion in the United States alone by 2020, and $544 billion worldwide by 2018.

Wright knows as well that submarkets for border-related products like video surveillance, non-lethal weaponry, and people-screening technologies are all advancing rapidly and that the US market for drones is poised to create 70,000 new jobs by 2016. Partially fueling this growth is what the Associated Press calls an“unheralded shift” to drone surveillance on the US southern divide. More than 10,000 drone flights have been launched into border air space since March 2013, with plans for many more, especially after the Border Patrol doubles its fleet.

When Wright speaks, it’s clear he knows that his park sits atop a twenty-first-century gold mine. As he sees it, Southern Arizona, aided by his tech park, will become the perfect laboratory for the first cluster of border security companies in North America. He’s not only thinking about the 57 southern Arizona companies already identified as working in border security and management, but similar companies nationwide and across the globe, especially in Israel.

In fact, Wright’s aim is to follow Israel’s lead, as it is now the number-one place for such groupings. In his case, the Mexican border would simply replace that country’s highly marketed Palestinian testing grounds. The 18,000 linear feet that surround the tech park’s solar panel farm would, for example, be a perfect spot to test out motion sensors. Companies could also deploy, evaluate, and test their products “in the field,” as he likes to say—that is, where real people are crossing real borders—just as Elbit Systems did before CBP gave it the contract.

“If we’re going to be in bed with the border on a day-to-day basis, with all of its problems and issues, and there’s a solution to it,” Wright said in a 2012 interview, “why shouldn’t we be the place where the issue is solved and we get the commercial benefit from it?”
From the Battlefield to the Border

When Naomi Weiner, project coordinator for the Israel Business Initiative, returned from a trip to that country with University of Arizona researchers in tow, she couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about the possibilities for collaboration. She arrived back in November, just a day before Obama announced his new executive actions—a promising declaration for those, like her, in the business of bolstering border defenses.

“We’ve chosen areas where Israel is very strong and Southern Arizona is very strong,” Weiner explained to TomDispatch, pointing to the surveillance industry “synergy” between the two places. For example, one firm her team met with in Israel was Brightway Vision, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems. If it decides to set up shop in Arizona, it could use tech park expertise to further develop and refine its thermal imaging cameras and goggles, while exploring ways to repurpose those military products for border surveillance applications. The Offshore Group would then manufacture the cameras and goggles in Mexico.

Arizona, as Weiner puts it, possesses the “complete package” for such Israeli companies. “We’re sitting right on the border, close to Fort Huachuca,” a nearby military base where, among other things, technicians control the drones surveilling the borderlands. “We have the relationship with Customs and Border Protection, so there’s a lot going on here. And we’re also the Center of Excellence on Homeland Security.”

Weiner is referring to the fact that, in 2008, DHS designated the University of Arizona the lead school for the Center of Excellence on Border Security and Immigration. Thanks to that, it has since received millions of dollars in federal grants. Focusing on research and development of border-policing technologies, the center is a place where, among other things, engineers are studying locust wings in order to create miniature drones equipped with cameras that can get into the tiniest of spaces near ground level, while large drones like the Predator B continue to buzz over the borderlands at 30,000 feet (despite the fact that a recent audit by the inspector general of homeland security found them a waste of money).

Although the Arizona-Israeli romance is still in the courtship stage, excitement about its possibilities is growing. Officials from Tech Parks Arizona see Global Advantage as the perfect way to strengthen the US-Israel “special relationship.” There is no other place in the world with a higher concentration of homeland security tech companies than Israel. Six hundred tech start-ups are launched in Tel Aviv alone every year. During the Gaza offensive last summer, Bloombergreportedthat investment in such companies had “actually accelerated.” However, despite the periodic military operations in Gaza and the incessant build-up of the Israeli homeland security regime, there are serious limitations to the local market.

The Israeli Ministry of Economy is painfully aware of this. Its officials know that the growth of the Israeli economy is “largely fueled by a steady increase in exports and foreign investment.” The government coddles, cultivates, and supports these start-up tech companies until their products are market-ready. Among them have been innovations like the “skunk,” a liquid with a putrid odor meant to stop unruly crowds in their tracks. The ministry has also been successful in taking such products to market across the globe. In the decade following 9/11, sales of Israeli “security exports” rose from $2 billion to $7 billion annually.

Israeli companies have sold surveillance drones to Latin American countries likeMexico, Chile, and Colombia, and massive security systems to India and Brazil, where an electro-optic surveillance system will be deployed along the country’s borders with Paraguay and Bolivia. They have also been involved in preparations for policing the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. The products of Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries are now in use from the Americas and Europe to Australia. Meanwhile, that mammoth security firm is ever more involved in finding “civilian applications” for its war technologies. It is also ever more dedicated to bringing the battlefield to the world’s borderlands, including southern Arizona.

As geographer Joseph Nevins notes, although there are many differences between the political situations of the US and Israel, both Israel-Palestine and Arizona share a focus on keeping out “those deemed permanent outsiders,” whether Palestinians, undocumented Latin Americans, or indigenous people.

Mohyeddin Abdulaziz has seen this “special relationship” from both sides, as a Palestinian refugee whose home and village Israeli military forces destroyed in 1967 and as a long-time resident of the US-Mexico borderlands. A founding member of the Southern Arizona BDS Network, whose goal is to pressure US divestment from Israeli companies, Abdulaziz opposes any program like Global Advantage that will contribute to the further militarization of the border, especially when it also sanitizes Israel’s “violations of human rights and international law.”

Such violations matter little, of course, when there is money to be made, as Brigadier General Elkabetz indicated at that 2012 border technology conference. Given the direction that both the US and Israel are taking when it comes to their borderlands, the deals being brokered at the University of Arizona look increasingly like matches made in heaven (or perhaps hell). As a result, there is truth packed into journalist Dan Cohen’s comment that “Arizona is the Israel of the United States.”

Todd Miller, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Homeland Security. He has written on border and immigration issues for the New York Times, Al Jazeera America, and NACLA Report on the Americas and its blog Border Wars, among other places. You can follow him on twitter @memomiller and view more of his work at toddwmiller.wordpress.com.

Gabriel M. Schivone, a writer from Tucson, has worked as a humanitarian volunteer in the Mexico-US borderlands for more than six years. He blogs at Electronic Intifada andHuffington Post’s “Latino Voices.” His articles have appeared in the Arizona Daily Star,the Arizona Republic, StudentNation, the Guardian, and McClatchy Newspapers, among other publications. You can follow him on Twitter @GSchivone. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Original piece http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/us-mexico-border-gaza-israeli-tech-wall%20

Only BDS Can Force Israel to Prove It’s a Democracy for Its Arab Citizens Too

Sun, 06/19/2016 - 20:48

Several commentators and politicians have rushed to utilize the appointment of Professor Michael Karayanni to the deanship of Israel’s Hebrew University’s Law School to bolster the “bridging the gaps” narrative. To them, this appointment is a refutation of the BDS movement. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, for instance, tweeted that this is a “historic step that breaks another glass ceiling for Israel’s Arabs”.
Yet, Karayanni’s well-deserved appointment does not lend support to these arguments. In fact, it supports the opposite conclusions. Like in previous cases, the prevailing discourse inverts the relation between the exception and the rule — the exception is deployed to conceal the rule rather than to prove it. The achievement itself becomes evidence of the rule, whereas the arduous process Karayanni and Arab citizens go through recedes from view.
Should we not ask: Why did it take so long for an accomplished Arab jurist like Karayanni to become dean of an Israeli law school? Why do so few tenured Arab professors teach in Israeli academia? Are a handful of individual success stories enough to break the ceiling, as Herzog would have it? Will they magically solve inequalities in infrastructure, education, and zoning plans? Will they provide redress to unrecognized villages, discrimination in land allocation, and segregation in housing? Instead of spotlighting exceptional stories and individuals, should not Israeli society address the structural and collective impediments that make those elevating stories the exception, rather than the rule?
Karayanni’s appointment illustrates Israel’s Arab citizens’ double bind more than it does the breaking of any ceiling: every time an individual Arab in Israel secures a professional achievement, she becomes proof of Israel’s goodness (to the moderate right-wing), or its progressive evolution (to the center-left).
In this Israeli self-serving discourse, lack of qualifications explains the absence of Arabs from leading positions. In other words, structural racism has nothing to do with it. If, on the other hand, the individual Arab is successful, it confirms the openness of the system.
It thus proves an already existing thesis: that the system works well by allowing for individual success. The individual’s qualifications become incidental to her success. Either way, this discourse does not seriously question the socio-political system that institutionalizes discrimination against Arab citizens. It does not refute the analogy to South Africa’s apartheid. Karayanni’s success is despite Israel’s system, not because of it.
What are the implications of Karayanni’s appointment to the current debate on the legitimacy of the BDS movement, which includes the boycott of Israeli academic institutions? The BDS movement calls for boycotting institutions, not individuals, due to their complicity and contribution to the oppression of the Palestinian people. This ranges from discriminatory student admissions and staff hiring policies to complicity, and often direct support, to the longest military occupation since World War II.
Karayanni’s appointment should highlight what is missing in the fierce debate about the legitimacy of BDS, namely, the underlying goals of the campaign against Israel. Most BDS discussions are focused on ending the brutal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, this is only one of three goals of BDS. The other goals highlight the denial of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their homeland, and ending the institutional discrimination against the Palestinian minority in Israel.
Instead of seriously reflecting on whether and why BDS is necessary or valuable, Israel and its supporters are diverting the conversation by focusing on whether it is legitimate or legal to engage in a form of protest rooted in nonviolence, grassroots organization, and civic mobilization. They obfuscate the issues by outlawing BDS calls, demonizing the movement, and falsely accusing its supporters of anti-Semitism and even terrorism.
The anti-BDS efforts clearly aim to silence any debate concerning Israel and its policies in historic Palestine. They seek to have a chilling effect on the freedom of speech and civil society activism not only in Israel, but now increasingly in North American and European countries. Governor Cuomo of New York’s recent order to blacklist companies and institutions that support BDS is only a recent example. Despite these misguided efforts, the BDS movement has experienced great success in moving the international dialogue and shifting the burden of proof onto Israel to prove that it is a democracy for all its citizens and that it respects the human rights of Palestinians and their right to self-determination.
Ultimately, the prevailing self-serving discourse is as untenable as the general politics of defenders of Israel, a politics grounded in the stubborn denial of facts and realities. It will not be able to credibly reconcile supporters of Israel’s oppressive policies with their complicity in Israel’s crimes and violations of international law indefinitely.
An individual success story cannot justify all of this and erase everyone else’s reality. Karayanni deserves his appointment and that it be an ordinary recognition of an accomplished individual who is treated as an equal to his Jewish peers. Palestinians have the right to end their oppression and to be treated equally and with dignity. Until that happens, we will continue to support BDS.
Jamil Dakwar, is a human rights lawyer and adjunct lecturer at John Jay College, New York. This piece is submitted in his personal capacity and not as an ACLU staff member.
Nimer Sultany, is a lecturer in law in the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

New Yorkers protest “McCarthyite” blacklist of supporters of Israel boycott movement BDS

Sun, 06/19/2016 - 20:45

Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered outside the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday, protesting a new pro-Israel policy that legal groups warn is “McCarthyite” and unconstitutional.

Cuomo signed an executive order this weekend that punishes institutions and companies that support a boycott of Israel on behalf of Palestinian human rights.

The New York Civil Liberties Union said the executive order establishes a discriminatory “blacklist” that “raises serious First Amendment concerns.”

Baher Azmy, legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, called the new policy “plainly unconstitutional in its McCarthyist vision.”

More than 300 protesters joined the demonstration on Thursday, calling on Gov. Cuomo to rescind the executive order.

Jewish Voice for Peace, a social justice group that co-organized the protest, blasted Cuomo’s executive order as an unconstitutional “attempt to repress the growing movement for Palestinian rights.”

“The overwhelming turnout for this protest speaks to the fact that our political leadership is increasingly out of touch with its constituents,” Beth Miller, an activist with the New York City chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, or JVP, told Salon.

“The sidewalks and streets were packed with hundreds of people, standing literally toe-to-toe, to send the clear message that we refuse to be silenced,” she added.

“Gov. Cuomo’s executive order does not change the fact that it is our constitutional right to boycott, and it does not change the fact that it is right to boycott Israel until it respects and upholds Palestinian rights,” Miller stressed.

A dense crowd of protesters lined downtown Manhattan’s 3rd Ave. on Thursday evening.

(Credit: Jewish Voice for Peace/Jake Ratner)

They carried an array of signs and banners. Many expressed solidarity with past struggles.

One man held a sign that read, “Boycott worked in Montgomery and South Africa, and it will work in occupied Palestine.” Montgomery refers to a city in Alabama where a 1955 bus boycott helped kick off the civil rights movement.

(Credit: Jewish Voice for Peace/Jake Ratner)

JVP stresses that the “Palestinian-led civil society BDS movement is modeled on the global campaign that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa.”

BDS refers to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, an international grassroots movement that promotes nonviolent economic means to pressure Israel to comply with international law and cease its violations of Palestinian human rights. The global campaign was called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005.

Many veteran leaders in the struggle against U.S.- and Israel-backed apartheid in South Africa have endorsed BDS.

“The signs we held and messages we wanted to convey — such as ‘We will continue to boycott for justice until Palestinian refugees can return to their homes and land’ — reflect the many ways Israel is violating basic principles of human rights and international law,” said Donna Nevel, an activist with Jews Say No!, another group that helped organize the demonstration.

These are “the reasons that the BDS movement is so critical,” Nevel told Salon, stressing that BDS can help pressure Israel to change its illegal policies.

Gov. Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 157 declares that “the State of New York will not permit its own investment activity to further the BDS campaign in any way, shape or form, whether directly or indirectly.”

The new order, in its own language, establishes “a list of institutions and companies that… participate in boycott, divestment, or sanctions activity targeting Israel, either directly or through a parent or subsidiary.”

Cuomo summarized the new policy: “If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.”

JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson published an op-ed in The New York Daily News on Thursday warning that Cuomo’s executive order will “set a dangerous and likely unconstitutional precedent for governments to deny groups financial opportunities and benefits because of their exercise of First Amendment-protected political speech.”

“When a chief executive unilaterally signs an executive order declaring that the state blacklist and divest from companies and organizations with a particular political view, we usually call that state repression,” she said.

At the protest outside Gov. Cuomo’s office, activists articulated many of the important reasons that a boycott is necessary. They carried a large banner that read “We will continue to boycott for justice until…”, which was accompanied by smaller signs that listed reasons for boycotting Israel.

Some of these reasons included: “until Israel respects Palestinian human rights,” “until the brutal occupation of Palestine ends,” “until Israel stops demolishing Palestinian homes,” “until Israel absolishes segregated schools,” “until Palestinian refugees can return home,” “until the siege of Gaza ends” and “until Palestinians have freedom.”

(Credit: Jewish Voice for Peace/Jake Ratner)

“Despite being planned at a very short notice, the protest had a robust turnout and a powerful presence by hundreds of outraged human rights advocates,” said Hani Ghazi, a member of Adalah-NY, the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, the third group that co-organized the demonstration.

Ghazi, a Palestinian American activist, told Salon, “We expect the governor to be democratic and to protect our right to free speech and to practice honorable and nonviolent activism.”

“We expect him to side with his constituents, the people of New York, and not with wealthy corporations that profit from, and institutions that comply with, Israel’s human rights abuses, international law violations and other apartheid policies,” he added.

One protester even donned an enormous papier-mache head that looked like Cuomo’s.

For months, the New York legislature unsuccessfully tried to pass anti-boycott legislation. Cuomo circumvented this legal process completely on Sunday, June 5, signing the surprise executive order.

Dima Khalidi, the founder and director of nonprofit legal advocacy organization Palestine Legal and a cooperating counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights, blasted Cuomo’s executive action.

“Gov. Cuomo can’t wish away the First Amendment with an executive order,” she told Salon on Monday. “It’s clear that Cuomo is bypassing the legislative process in order to muzzle morally-driven positions protesting systemically discriminatory state policies and a military occupation that is 49 years old this week.”

“As with the constitutionally faulty legislation that was pending in Albany, this Executive Order may not infringe — directly or indirectly — on the rights of New Yorkers to engage in constitutionally protected boycotts to effect economic, political or social change,” she added.

Palestine Legal issued a statement calling the executive order “a blatantly unconstitutional attack on freedom of speech [that] establishes a dangerous precedent reminiscent of McCarthyism.”

Riham Barghouti, another activist with Adalah-NY, accused Cuomo of acting undemocratically in order to implement an unpopular pro-Israel policy.

“Like other politicians, Gov. Cuomo is finding that blind support of the Israeli apartheid state requires repressive, undemocratic measures,” Barghouti said. “He is attempting to silence the growing number of morally conscientious individuals and organizations that support freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians.”

“We, along with our allies, demand that Gov. Cuomo rescind this order punishing supporters of Palestinian rights and BDS,” she added.

(Credit: Jewish Voice for Peace/Jake Ratner)

Anti-boycott legislation has been introduced in more than 20 states throughout the U.S. Bills that are likely unconstitutional have been passed in nine states.

Sen. Chuck Schumer heaped praise on Cuomo for his executive order. The New York senator said he is “looking at introducing a federal law to do the same thing” across the country.

Activists say Thursday’s protest was the first action in a new campaign to pressure the governor to repeal the order.

“This is a new low for the state-sanctioned backlash against the movement for Palestinian human rights,” Nic Abramson, an activist with Jews Say No!, said in a statement.

Abramson emphasized that the Palestinian solidarity movement “is growing and strengthening daily.”

JVP stands by the BDS movement. Vilkomerson, the executive director, defended BDS in Salon in February, warning that she and her organization were on the verge of being blacklisted.

“We act in solidarity with the Palestinian call for international grassroots pressure on Israel until it complies with international law and ends its ongoing repression of Palestinian rights,” explained JVP activist Gabrielle Spears in a statement.

She emphasized, “We will continue to boycott Israel until Palestinian children can live without fear of imprisonment and torture, until there are no longer separate roadways for Israeli Jews and Palestinians, until Israel stops bombing and killing Palestinians, and until the checkpoints and apartheid wall are dismantled.”

Ben Norton is a politics staff writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at@BenjaminNorton. Original article: http://www.salon.com/2016/06/10/shame_on_cuomo_new_yorkers_protest_mccarthyite_blacklist_of_supporters_of_israel_boycott_movement_bds/

We, the undersigned, support the protest against the travel ban imposed on Omar Barghouti

Sun, 06/19/2016 - 20:38

We are Israeli citizens, active against Israel’s occupation and violations of international law. We would like to express our support of Omar Barghouti’s right to freedom of speech and assembly as the co-founder of the BDS campaign.

In doing so, we join numerous individuals and organizations across the world:

1.  Academic BDS, Argentina

2.  Sydney Staff for BDS, Australia

3.  Belgian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (BACBI), Belgium

4.  Faculty for Palestine, Canada

5.  College and University Workers United (CUWU), Canada

6.  Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP),

    France

7.  Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI), India

8.  Academics for Palestine, Ireland

9.  Stop Technion Campaign, Italy

10. Akademisk og Kulturell Boikott av Staten Israel (AKULBI), Norway

11.  Pakistanis for Palestine, Pakistan

12.  Action Group at KTH för Boycott of Israel (PSABI), Sweden

13.  British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), UK

14.  Artists for Palestine, UK

15.  Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, UK

16.  US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), USA

(http://www.aurdip.fr/letter-to-the-ministers-of-foreign.html).

It should be noted that several European governments have recently announced that a call forBDS is protected under the right to freedom of speech and assembly. Our protest resonates with governments and citizens, speaking out for the right to call for BDS. For example:

  • Dutch foreign minister says BDS “protected by the freedom of expression”.

  • Irish foreign minister says BDS is a “legitimate political viewpoint” and that his department is monitoring Israel’s repression of BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti.

  • 352 European bodies call on the EU to support right to boycott.

  • 23,000 people appeal to UN on the #RightToBoycott

(https://bdsmovement.net/2016/irish-dutch-join-sweden-right-to-boycott-14143; http://www.bdsfrance.org/petition-nous-appelons-au-boycott-des-produits-israeliens/)

 

Many of us support the BDS campaign, and those of us who are privileged Jewish Israeli citizens, are free to travel abroad and advocate for this cause. Targeting Omar Barghouti by the Israeli government shows that Palestinians have no right to free speech and free movement, as far as this government is concerned. We intend to continue our efforts for the attainment of justice and equality in Palestine/Israel.

Sincerely

Nabila Espanioly on behalf of Al-Tufula Pedagogical Center and Multipurpose Women’s Center in Nazareth

http://www.iataskforce.org/entities/view/81

 

BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within!

http://boycottisrael.info/

 

Coalition of Women for Peace

http://www.coalitionofwomen.org/?lang=en

 

New Profile

http://www.newprofile.org

Pages