Israelis Are Beginning to See the Power of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions)

From The Alternative Information Center:

In recent years, there has been a gradual growth in the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, calling to put economic pressure on Israel until it recognizes the rights of the occupied Palestinian people and puts an end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, starting on 27 December 2008, which lasted for nearly a month, has given this movement a powerful reason to redouble its efforts. Dozens of BDS campaigns have gained momentum and publicity; dozens of new ones were launched during or immediately after Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

These campaigns range from calls to boycott goods from the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, to calls to stop all economic contacts with Israel altogether. They include protests at sporting events, two countries cutting diplomatic ties with Israel (Bolivia and Venezuela), and many demonstrations around the world, attended by hundreds of thousands of protestors.

The growing protest against the atrocities committed by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip have begun to change something in the Israeli political discourse, and the first indication of this can already be seen in the Israeli economic media.

Although the Israeli economic media doesn’t concern itself with the moral dimension of the attacks on Gaza, the economic dimension of recent events have created a rising level of concern. In order to demonstrate this trend, here are summaries of four articles that appeared in the Israeli The Marker magazine for economic news:

1. On 2 February, Guy Grimland warned about a growing phenomenon of boycott of Israeli high-tech companies, and several Israeli companies received letters from European and U.S. companies explaining that they cannot invest in Israel for moral reasons.

2. In 3 February, Nehemia Strassler, one of Israel’s most famous economic correspondents, attacked the Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Eli Yishai, for calling on the Israeli military to “destroy one hundred homes in Gaza for every rocket that falls in Israel.” Strassler had nothing to say about the Palestinians living in these homes or about the loss of life, but he warned:

“[the minister] doesn’t even understand how the operation in Gaza hurts the economy. The horror sights on television and the words of politicians in Europe and Turkey change the behavior of consumers, businessmen and potential investors. Many European consumers boycott Israeli products in practice. Intellectuals call for an economic war against us and to enforce an official and full consumer boycott.

Calls are heard in board meetings of economic corporations to boycott trade relations with Israel. So far deals were cancelled with Turkey, the UK, Egypt and the Gulf States, and visits by economic delegations were cancelled. It’s much easier now to switch providers while abandoning Israeli providers. Many company boards are required to take wide considerations into account with regards to the good of society and the environment, and they put political considerations in that slot as well.

Of course there is an economic cost to severing diplomatic ties. Qatar cut its trade relations with Israel, Venezuela and Bolivia cut diplomatic relations. Mauritania recalled its ambassador and the relations with Turkey worsened considerably—and this bad ambience seeps into the business sector decisions. Here, just yesterday Dudi Ovshitz, who grows peppers for export, said that ‘there is a concealed boycott of Israeli products in Europe.'”

3. On 6 February, Shuki Sadeh wrote about even more companies that have decided to boycott relations with Israel. A Turkish company demanded that Israeli companies sign a document condemning the Israeli massacre in Gaza before they can offer their services for it. Sadeh quoted Naomi Klein’s recent call for boycott, the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott and Israeli organizations that support the boycott and provide information for the global BDS movement. Sadeh’s article also had concerned quotes by Israeli businessmen who demanded government intervention to protect them from the growing boycott.

4. In 11 February, Ora Koren reported that the Israeli business sectors feel the effects of the attack on Gaza. She reported that Israeli businessmen in Turkey are hiding their names so that the local BDS organizations won’t learn about their activities, and that the situation is even worse in the UK.

These four articles are a sign that there is a shift in the effectiveness of the BDS movement against Israel, and that if the momentum is maintained and strengthened, Israeli businessmen may decide to move their headquarters away from Israel, or to begin to put pressure on the Israeli government to begin respecting international law, and ending the occupation.

Organize for boycott Israel Global Day of Action on 30 March 2009

In December Israel is going to celebrate its colonial establishment on Palestine.  The Secretariat of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee calls us all to unite our different capacities in a Global Day of Action in solidarity with the Palestinian people [and for the sake of justice] and for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel on 30 March 2009:

The mobilization coincides with the Palestinian Land Day, the annual commemoration of the 1976 Israeli massacre of Palestinians in the Galilee in struggle against massive land expropriation, and forms part of the Global Week of Action against the Crises and War from 28 March 28 to 4 April.

On 30 March BDS actions will particularly focus on:

* Boycotts and divestment from Israeli corporations and international corporations that sustain Israeli apartheid and occupation.
* Legal action to end Israel’s impunity and prosecute its war criminals through national court cases and international tribunals.
* Cancelling and blocking free trade and other preferential agreements with Israel and imposing an arms embargo as the first steps towards fully fledged sanctions against Israel.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) includes: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine; General Union of Palestinian Workers; Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions; Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations’ Network (PNGO); Federation of Independent Trade Unions; Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations; Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI); General Union of Palestinian Women; Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU); Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW); Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba; Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCDPRJ); Coalition for Jerusalem; and Palestinian Economic Monitor.

Scott Campbell: NYU Occupied! (Watch Them on USTREAM Live)

Scott Campbell sent us this email:

Friends,
I’m writing from New York University where I just started grad school. Very briefly, I’d like to let you all know that as of 9:30pm tonight we have occupied NYU. A website with more info is at www.takebacknyu.com. The list of demands is below. I don’t have internet time and my cell phone is dead, but please spread the word. Thanks!
scott

We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU! coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.

The occupiers demand to establish a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee in which
the first two orders of this committee will be:

a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.

b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.

Annual scholarships to be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.

The university to donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.

Read their full demands on their website here.

See live streaming video from the occupation here

Scott has just sent this email too:

Demonstration in support of the NYU occupation:

Thursday, 12:15 PM
In front of Kimmel Student Center
60 Washington Square South, Manhattan, NYC

Since 10pm Wednesday night the third floor of the Kimmel Student Center at New York University has been occupied by more than 70 NYU and non-NYU students. Originally present for the first few hours of the occupation I had to leave for personal reasons, but it is still going strong and spirits are very high. It was recently announced the head of NYU university relations has cut his vacation short and is flying back home. They’re clearly worried.

This is in direct solidarity with the many occupations occurring recently across the globe, from Greece to Britain to the New School and the University of Rochester.

There are 13 demands relating to NYU investments in war profiteers and occupation, the cost of tuition, the lack of transparency and the lack of respect for NYU workers.

See the full list of demands here: http://takebacknyu.com/2009/02/19/nyu-occupied/. See live streaming video from the occupation here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/take-back-nyu.

Help out and spread the word by:

* Come support the occupation!
* Send a letter to the administration in solidarity
* Send an e-mail to your professors, peers, listservs, facebook groups you name it! Tell the world.
* Have your parent write a letter or e-mail to the university
* Print the following demands and distribute them far and wide!

Stay tuned.
To those who’re not checking my tags, I have recently added the “Activists are my family” tag, those would be the occupiers.

Queer activists call for boycott of Tel Aviv film festival

Via ei:

Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!), a San Francisco Bay Area solidarity group, is calling on international Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer filmmakers not to participate in the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival this June. QUIT!’s call for filmmakers to respect the cultural boycott of Israel initiated by more than 100 organizations of Palestinian civil society. The call has been joined by members of South West Asian and North African Bay Area Queers (SWANABAQ) and a founder of Trikone, the largest South Asian LGBT organization in the world.

One filmmaker has already notified festival organizers of his decision not to participate. Maher Sabry, director of the Egyptian film Toul Omry (All My Life), wrote: “It would be hypocrisy of me to call for boycotting the Egyptian government for mistreating gay men and not to call for boycotting Israel for the mass punishment of innocent Palestinian civilians for assault by few militants.” Sabry added, “One day, I dream to screen Toul Omry in the Holy Land, when it becomes a place of peace, when Jews, Christians, Muslims and others can live as equal with same rights, when there are no refugee camps, no religious or ethnic discrimination, no land-confiscation, tree-burning or house-demolition, no bloodshed and mass punishment, no injustice, no militants and no military aggression.”

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was launched in Ramallah in April 2004 by a group of Palestinian academics and intellectuals to join the growing international boycott movement. International signatories include filmmakers Sophie Fiennes, Ken Loach, Haim Bresheeth and Jenny Morgan, writers John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Amiri Baraka, Naomi Klein and Eduardo Galeano, and musicians Brian Eno and Leon Rosselson.

In a letter to British director Shamim Sarif, whose film I Can’t Think Straight has already been accepted by the Tel Aviv festival, QUIT! stated, “As queer people, we know that mainstream media and organizations don’t tell the full story of our lives, and frequently present outright lies that once accepted become difficult to refute. One example of this practice is the conscious public relations campaign presenting Israel as the ‘only democracy in the Middle East,’ and specifically representing it as a haven for LGBT people … LGBT Palestinians living in the occupied territories, like straight Palestinians, are denied their basic human rights.”

Tinku Ishtiaq, a founder of Trikone and previous co-chair of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission also wrote to Sharif: “Just as the international boycotts against South Africa during its apartheid era were helpful in finally bringing about the downfall of Apartheid it is hoped that similar boycotts against Israel would bring about the change that is necessary for Palestinians to survive … I believe that our rights should not supersede the rights of other oppressed groups. Your participation in the Tel Aviv film festival would be particularly sad for gay human rights activists who are struggling for Palestinian rights.”

QUIT! and its allies are asking international filmmakers to write to festival organizers notifying them that they will not submit their films or accept invitations to participate until Israel meets its obligations under international law. Israel is currently in violation of more than 80 United Nations resolutions, including Resolution 242, which affirms the right for the refugees to return home.

“Israeli queers are oppressed for their sexuality and gender identity, just as queers in every other country are,” said QUIT member Kate Raphael. “For the last several years their pride parades have been violently attacked by religious Jews. LGBT organizers in Israel should support the Palestinian boycott, which will lead to a more just society for everyone in the area. They should not ask international queers to break the boycott to participate in their event.”

QUIT! is a grassroots nonviolent direct action group based in San Francisco that has been active against war and occupation since early 2001.

Today's Bookmarks

Tulkarem to boycott Israeli goods starting 1 March

Tulkarem – Ma’an – The city of Tulkarem will begin a total boycott of Israeli goods starting March, the chamber of commerce announced Thursday.

The chamber, in conjunction with several local merchants and organizations, decided to launch the campaign, called “Keeping Tulkarem Clean of Israeli Goods.” The city will have assistance in organizing popular awareness of the efforts from coordinators from the popular anti-wall campaigns including Jamal Jum’ah.

Member of the local coordination committee Jamal Barham stressed the importance of unifying efforts to ensure the success of the campaign. This will include helping shop owners identify non-Israeli goods to replace common items like milk, flour, juice and chocolate.

The goal of the Tulkarem project is to increase the production of Palestinian goods from supplying 15% to 25% of consumer goods in Palestinian areas. They anticipate that this jump will provide at least 100,000 jobs in the production sectors.

Palestine is the second largest consumer of Israeli goods and imports 2.6 billion US dollars of Israeli made products per year.

French academics join the call to boycott Israel

Israel’s impunity must end

Reports have made it clear that Israel’s actions in Gaza amount to war crimes: a population denied all possibility of escape or self-defense has been starved, deprived of medical care, and massacred beyond the view of the media. Images and accounts of the results of these actions are now reaching us, and they are frankly unbearable. It is not a matter of “excesses” committed by a few soldiers, but rather of a deliberate policy that borders on ethnic cleansing. To quote a letter signed by 300 British-based academics and published in the Guardian January 16, “The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources.”

Israel’s impunity must end. Neither humanitarian aid nor a call to extend the ceasefire will suffice. The blockade of Gaza must be lifted and Israel, together with its political and military leaders, must be tried for war crimes. We ask the French government and the French population to take all practical measures to force Israel to accept these demands, and, first of all, to define and apply to Israel a program of boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

We who have signed this text commit ourselves to cease all collaboration with Israeli institutions participating in the occupation, and declare our solidarity with those who in Israel struggle courageously for the human, social, and political rights of Palestinians.

Read the French version signed by French academics  on the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel blog.

and check these links:

Latest Guardian Article on Occupations and Sit-Ins

Israel used experimental weapons in Gaza developed at UC

UPDATE: Call on Israeli Soldiers to Stop War Crimes published in Haaretz

A fellow Egyptian blogger was sexually harassed

Another Blogger Detained For Gaza

World gets its first gay leader

My father once heard MLK denounce Israel

and don’t forget to check Mondoweiss blog for updates on Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, the first American college to divest from Israel.

The Only Occupiers I Will Ever Support

This post will be continually updated.

1-Edinburgh University Occupation for Gaza


Statement from the occupying students:

On the morning of Wednesday 11th February Edinburgh University students occupied the George Square Lecture Theatre. We have acted against the university because of its financial and commercial links to the apartheid state of Israel, in addition to its unacceptable silence in response to the Gaza conflict, described by the UN President of the General Assemby, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, as “genocide”. We will sit-in until the heads of the university agree to the following demands…

Broadly, we demand that our university demonstrate what should be its inherent opposition, as an educational institution, to Israel’s illegal and shameful behaviours.

Read their demands here.

2-King’s College Occupation in Solidarity with Gaza:

“The college has agreed to a series of measures to directly address the current crisis in Gaza, including the provision of scholarships for those directly affected by the crisis, and the donation of educational resources to institutions in Palestine”, said Mido Khan on behalf of the student protesters. “In addition, the college has acknowledged the scale of discontent that the award to Peres has generated among the student population, particularly considering the award in the context of what has happened recently in Gaza.” The students agreed to cease their occupation after college management agreed to publish a statement outlining the position of the College on these issues and the humanitarian measures undertaken in the wake of the occupation.

“This signals the reintroduction of student activism as a powerful agent for political change, and shows us that if we make a stand then we can make a difference”, said Hesham Yafai.

3-LSE Occupation in Solidarity with Gaza!

A spokesperson for the group said:

“Nothing we could have said or done would have been enough given the scale of the suffering inflicted on the people of Gaza by the Israeli military but we have achieved a huge victory for Palestinian students and for student activism. That we pressured LSE Director Howard Davies into issuing a public statement is a massive success but given the LSE’s history it shouldn’t have taken an occupation to achieve this. We look forward to meeting the new Palestinian students that our successes on application fees and scholarships will bring to the LSE.

4-Sheffield Hallam Free Gaza Movement

Following the actions of Sheffield Hallam students and workers from around the city who voted to occupy the tenth floor of the Owen building to make practical demands of the university in solidarity with Palestinians and to condemn the actions of the Israeli state, the Sheffield Free Gaza Movement was formed to build initiatives and campaigns and continue to put pressure on the university management to fulfil the demands of the occupation.

5-Oxford Occupation in Solidarity with Gaza!

OXFORD UNIVERSITY STUDENTS OCCUPY BUILDING IN SOLIDARITY WITH GAZA

In the first week of term, over 80 Oxford University students occupied the historic Bodleian building to demand that the university release a statement condemning the attack on Gaza and cancel the lecture series at Balliol College inaugurated by Shimon Peres.

Students organised the sit-in after attending an emergency meeting in Oxford organised to discuss the war on Gaza and the precarious ceasefire. Members of the University entered the Clarendon building and sat down at 1200, British time, on Thursday 22nd January. Their demands were presented to University officials, and by 7pm the same day they acheived victory, putting an end to the occupation after reaching a successful agreement with the university.

6-Queen Mary Occupation

We as students of Queen Mary are occupying lecture room FB 1.13 in the College to protest against the recognised war crimes in Gaza committed by the Israeli Government, and to show our solidarity with the oppressed peoples in the region. We are pursuing this course of action to maintain the momentum of other student protests in Universities across the U.K.
As students of this institution, we unreservedly object on moral grounds to the University’s failure to boycott goods supplied by companies who fund military operations in Gaza.
Furthermore, we have strong reasons to believe the University is financially involved with arms dealers GKN and Cobham. We find this morally unacceptable and ask for complete transparency on the part of the University regarding any investments in the arms trade. It will be our policy to seek to expose this issue and open it up for debate within the College.
We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused to either staff or students at our College; however, we have been motivated to act on the basis of our moral convictions.

Read their demands here.

7-Goldsmiths Occupation for Palestinian Scholarships

Goldsmiths will establish 4 scholarships, covering the cost of taught postgraduate tuition fees, to be awarded to students who come from all and any part of the world which is affected by oppression, persecution, political or military strife such that their human right to education is denied to them.
Goldsmiths will work with its students and other interested parties to establish a charitable trust to raise funds to support the costs of these students’ study – accommodation, travel and living expenses. In the early years of the charity’s operation, if it cannot raise sufficient funds to cover the costs, Goldsmiths will provide funds to enable the students to study at Goldsmiths.
Two of the four scholarships will, for the ten years from 2009-10 until 2018-19, be reserved for students from Palestine. Before the 2019-20 scholarships are advertised, there will be a review, which will include asking the student body (and making its assent a necessary condition) to determine whether and for how long the reservation of 2 scholarships for Palestinian students should continue.
Goldsmiths will work with Al-Quds Open University and Birzeit University, with which we already have strong academic links, in identifying suitable candidates. The selection panel to agree the criteria for the scholarships in the first instance, and to determine who receives the scholarships on an annual basis, shall comprise a student representative chosen by the students, an academic staff representative, and a Pro-Warden.

8-SUSSEX OCCUPATION

Over 80 University of Sussex Students have occupied a major lecture theatre in solidarity with Palestine under siege.

Motivated by the escalating crisis in Gaza, University of Sussex students have issued a set of demands to the University management calling for immediate action. The occupation is a response to recent Israeli military assault on Gaza. We stand in solidarity with the School of Oriental and African Studies, the London School of Economics, King’s College London, Birmingham and Essex Universities. The occupied space will be used for education and dialogue until the following demands are met…

read them here.

9-SOAS students occupy university building

We, a coalition of SOAS students from many different backgrounds, have resolved to occupy the Brunei Gallery Suite. In line with Student Union motions, our aims are the following..

Read them here.

10-Leeds Uni Occupation

In response to our demands, the University made the following concessions:

On Monday, the Vice Chancellor issued a public statement in which he “expressed his dismay at the conflict and the loss of life in Gaza and Israel.” The University has declared that it is “agreeable in principle to facilitating schemes to provide surplus educational materials to Palestine…and that it will discuss with LUU (Leeds University Union) ways of extending opportunities for Palestinian students to study at Leeds.” The University has also stated that it will review its socially responsible investment policy and that it will accept a list of roughly a dozen companies which concern us most and they will inform us whether they do or do not invest in the aforementioned companies. We will actively pursue all of these concessions to ensure that they are followed through.

11-Occupation Nottingham

We demand:
1 STATEMENT – That the University issue an official statement to the press condemning the recent and continuing atrocities perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza Strip, acknowledging particularly the effect on educational institutions, such as the bombing of the Gaza Islamic University.We demand:
The University should officially denounce the attacks on civilians, the systematic obstruction of humanitarian aid and the targeting of academic institutions, hospitals, places of worship and international peace keeping facilities.  The University should encourage other universities to make such statements, as well as informing the UK and Israeli governments.

Read their full demands here.

12-FREE MAN MET: Students in Occupation for Gaza!

MMU Students are currently in occupation of the Geoffrey Manton building. We are occupying the building in solidarity with the people of Gaza and to stand up to imperialism in the Middle East. We have issued the following set of demands to the Vice-Chancellor because we believe in delivering concrete solidarity for the people of Palestine.

Read their demands here.

Irish Trade unionists launch boycott of Israeli goods

From Belfast Telegraph:

ICTU President Patricia McKeown led the Middle East visit that involved 11 senior members of the umbrella group representing trade unions across Ireland, including 36 trade unions with 250,948 members in Northern Ireland.

The delegation met Israeli trade unionists and politicians, plus Hamas political leaders, but said they were shocked by the conditions they found in Palestinian areas.

“I was profoundly shocked by what we found,” said Ms McKeown.

“I didn’t expect the denial of human rights and the discrimination to be so evident and to be an obvious part of daily life… To see unemployment on the West Bank rising to 80%, to see people having to get up at three in the morning, and virtually sleep outside the the army controlled crossings in order to get into work – that’s something we didn’t expect to see.”

[…] Ms McKeown said her colleagues were deeply shocked by the conditions they saw in the Palestinian areas they visited and felt compelled to push for international action, with talks already under way with trade unions in Britain and the United States.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams told today’s event:

“Since the visit by the ICTU delegation, Gaza has been the target of an all-out military assault by Israeli forces. Over 1,300 people were killed, many of them children… Unless the international community and that includes the Irish government, the British government, the EU and the US government exercises its considerable influence and authority, any relaxation of the current assault on Gaza will only bring a short respite for citizens there.”