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Show Israel the Red Card!

Wed, 10/09/2014 - 3:36pm

One moment please…

UEFA faces Israel controversy over proposal to hold 2020 tournament games in Jerusalem

Wed, 10/09/2014 - 3:33pm

UEFA president Michel Platini is facing pressure to exclude the Israeli bid to host UEFA European Championship 2020 games ahead of the September 19 decision on which 12 cities the tournament will be held across.

Palestinian football teams and NGOs have written to Platini arguing that holding the UEFA 2020 games in Jerusalem would be tantamount to “rewarding” Israel for its massacre of more than 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children, during its recent 52-day assault on Gaza.

”Giving Israel the privilege of hosting a major international sports tournament just weeks after it has carried out a bloody massacre of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip would give a green light to future war crimes,” said Abdulrahman Abunahel, the coordinator in Gaza with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

“Palestinians in Gaza enjoy the beautiful game as much as anyone else but Israel has launched a war on football, killing footballers, bombing stadiums and refusing to allow players to travel to matches. UEFA must live up to its stated commitment to human rights and show Israel the red card,” Abunahel added.

Among those killed in Israel’s recent massacre were Ahmad Muhammad al-Qatar and Uday Caber, two 19-year-old football players at the start of their careers, and 49-year-old Ahed Zaqout, a footballing legend in Palestine known as “the voice of football” for his live commentaries. 32 sports facilities and around 500 athletes’ houses were also damaged.

The letter to Platini also warns UEFA that allowing the Israeli Football Association to host UEFA 2020 games in Jerusalem would legitimise Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem, which is recognised as occupied Palestinian territory by the EU and UN.

Israel recently announced plans to further expand illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, a step that the UN and other agencies have warned will lead to further expulsions and forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes.

There are virtually no football facilities in East Jerusalem and it is almost impossible for Palestinians to play football, because of the severe Israeli restrictions on Palestinian space and development.

“Israel’s policies in Jerusalem are explicitly designed to forcibly displace Palestinians from the city to make way for ever expanding illegal Israeli settlements. Just last Thursday, the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem gave the green line to a plan to build 2,200 apartments in occupied East Jerusalem.”
“If UEFA decides to allow part of its football tournament to take place in Jerusalem, it will be providing tacit support to the serious violations of international law that Israel is committing in the city”, said Abunahel.

The Palestinian FA has previously called for the Israeli Football Association to be expelled from FIFA over its failure to protest Israel’s attacks on Palestinian sport.

Israel’s military forces routinely attack Palestinian footballers and prevent them from travelling to games and training. Two teenage aspiring professionals were deliberately shot in the feet by Israeli forces earlier this year while travelling home from a training session.

In 2010, UEFA president Michel Platini said: “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour”.

Platini and UEFA are expected to face months of intense protests and controversy if they decide to award Israel the right to host UEFA 2020 games.

In a public letter protesting against UEFA’s decision to allow Israel to host the Under 21 tournament in 2013, more than 50 footballers including Didier Drogba and Frederik Kanoute called the Israeli-hosted tournament “a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values”.

A major UEFA function in London was disrupted and there were pitch invasions at games across Europe in the lead up to the tournament.

Appeal to Union of European Football Associations regarding Israel’s bid to host UEFA 2020 tournament games

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 4:05pm

Dear Michel Platini and UEFA executive committee members,

We, the undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations and national institutions, call upon UEFA to exclude the bid of the Israeli Football Association (IFA) for Jerusalem to host UEFA 2020 tournament games from the selection process. We make this appeal given Israel’s recent war crimes against the people of Gaza and the on-going occupation and persistent human rights violations against Palestinians, including in the field of sports.

Israel has once again carried out an abhorrent massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. At least 2,168 Palestinians have been killed, including 519 children, and more than 8,000 people have been left wounded. At least 380,000 people have been displaced as Israel has deliberately targeted people’s homes and infrastructure. Palestinian and international organisations have accused Israel of committing war crimes. In the words of the top UN official for Palestinian refugees Pierre Krähenbühl: “Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.”

In addition, Israel deliberately undermines the development of Palestinian sports. It has annexed occupied East Jerusalem, established Jewish settlements and the Wall and carried out a policy of forced transfer against Palestinians. The UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice have called on the international community to not provide any form of recognition or assistance to these serious Israeli violations of international law.[1]

By awarding the IFA the privilege of hosting UEFA 2020 games in Jerusalem, UEFA would be sending a morally troubling message of approval — or even a reward for – Israel’s grave violations of human rights in Gaza, East Jerusalem and elsewhere at a time when Israel is facing increasing condemnation for adopting a policy of ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

According to media reports, the IFA has submitted its bid for Jerusalem to be allowed to host group stage games during the men’s UEFA European Football Championship in 2020.

The bid by the IFA comes at a time when numerous experts, including the UN experts on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, have concluded that Israel, with its practices of annexation and population transfer in occupied East Jerusalem and elsewhere, is responsible for apartheid, colonialism and ethnic cleansing.[2] According to the 1985 International Convention Against Apartheid in Sports, “sports contact with any country practicing apartheid in sports condones and strengthens apartheid.”[3]

Israel’s latest massacre and war crimes against the people of Gaza

On July 7 2014, Israel launched the latest in a long series of massacres against the Palestinian population of the besieged Gaza Strip. More than 2,168 Palestinians have been killed, including 519 children, and more than 8,000 people have been left wounded. At least 380,000 people have been displaced as Israel has deliberately targeted civilian homes and infrastructure.

More than 20 Palestinian athletes have been killed, including legendary former footballer and broadcaster Ahed Zaqout. 32 sports facilities and around 500 athletes’ houses were damaged. Four Palestinian children from a single family were deliberately killed while playing football on the beach.

The Israeli siege of Gaza is one of the most brutal manifestations of the Israeli occupation. The latest attack is part of an ongoing policy of collective punishment and killing practised by Israel against the people of Gaza, a violation of international law that Israel appears determined to continue.

On 23 July 2014, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) ordered the establishment of an independent international commission to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law relating to Israel’s attack on Gaza. UN officials and Palestinian and international organisations are expected to present evidence of grave Israeli violations of international law amounting to war crimes.

Systematic Israeli attacks on Palestinian sports, an act of apartheid

The infamous Israeli permit system, which has deprived so many Palestinians in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip of their freedom of movement, is reminiscent of the “pass laws” of apartheid South Africa. Permits have been denied to Palestinian footballers for travel to international tournaments, or even participation in local training sessions, simply because they are Palestinian. Israel denies movement permits and attacks Palestinian athletes and sport facilities in order to prevent the development of independent Palestinian sports and as a means of collective punishment.

During Israel’s 2008-09 military attack on the occupied and blockaded Gaza Strip, the Rafah National Stadium was targeted and destroyed and three Palestinian footballers were killed. In Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, the situation of Palestinian sports is extremely grim. There are no football facilities and it is almost impossible for Palestinians to play football, because of the severe Israeli restrictions on Palestinian space and development.

Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem

Since the illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, all Israeli authorities have worked to transform the Jerusalem under their control into a Jewish-Israeli city. Accordingly, Israeli policies have been guided by the official doctrine of “demographic balance”, which specifies that Palestinians must not exceed a quota of 30% of the combined population of West and East Jerusalem.[4]

In a series of actions that amount to war crimes under international law, Israel has transferred approximately 200,000 of its own citizens into occupied East Jerusalem and forcibly displaced Palestinians within and from the city, in order to create space for the illegal settlements. Israel has ethnically cleansed Palestinians using a variety of measures, including expulsions and forced evictions, combined with expropriation of Palestinian homes and land, demolitions of Palestinian homes and cultural heritage and revocation of the Jerusalem residency permits of Palestinians.

A report published by senior EU officials in Jerusalem in 2012 observed that “restrictive measures… in relation to the ID and residency status of Palestinians from East Jerusalem” are “linked to Israel’s demographic policy” and the “stated aim in official planning documents” is to maintain a specific ethnic ratio.”[5]

Palestinians are today facing a crisis in Jerusalem. Most of the Palestinian population under Israel’s occupation, more than 4 million people, are denied free access to the city by an Israeli system of permits, military checkpoints and the Wall.

According to data provided by independent and official Israeli, Palestinian and UN sources and compiled by the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem,[6] Israel has confiscated at least one third of the Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem, and 87% of the entire city area is allocated or reserved for Jewish-Israeli development. Only 13% of Israeli building permits issued between 2005 and 2009 were for Palestinians. Israel demolished 370 Palestinian structures, mainly homes, built without permits, and forcibly displaced 909 Palestinians in the period 2009-2013 alone, while approximately 93,000 Palestinians are at risk of being displaced by having their homes demolished.

Since 1967, one quarter of all Palestinians living in East Jerusalem today have been forcibly displaced at least once, mainly due to lack of housing and Israeli residency restrictions. No information is available about the total number of Palestinians permanently transferred from occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli revocation of Jerusalem residency permits alone has resulted in the permanent deportation of at least 14,300 Palestinians, mainly since 1996 (11,131 revocations).[7]

Our call to UEFA

In 2010, UEFA president Michel Platini stated, “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour”.[8]

When Israel was selected as host of the Under 21 tournament in 2013, more than 50 top-flight professional footballers denounced the efforts of Israeli officials to paint Israel as a liberal European-type democracy. In a public letter protesting against UEFA’s decision, they called the Israeli-hosted tournament “a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values”.[9]

Following the deliberate shootings of Jawhar Nasser Jawhar (19) and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya (17), while they played football earlier this year, and in response to the continued Israeli movement restrictions and other harassment, the Palestinian Football Association called for Israel to be expelled from FIFA, reflecting sweeping sentiment among Palestinians everywhere.[10]

In light of the above, we, the undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations and national institutions, call on UEFA not to reward Israel for colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and not to turn a blind eye to the IFA’s systematic failure to speak out against Israel’s deliberate targeting of Palestinian football and sports in general.

We urge UEFA in the strongest possible terms not to consider the provocative bid by the IFA to host 2020 games in Jerusalem. We also urge the UEFA Executive to inform the IFA that its UEFA membership will be suspended if Israel does not comply with international law and end its deliberate targeting of Palestinian sport.

We shall be urging all fans and players of the beautiful game to support us and engage UEFA on this important matter.

From Occupied Palestine,

The Civic National Commission on Jerusalem, including:

Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
Council of National Forces in Palestine
Jerusalem Clubs League
Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem
General Union of Palestinian Women
Palestinian Theatres League
Coalition for Jerusalem
Arab Studies Society/Faisal al Husseini Foundation
Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall)

Palestinian Talent Football Academy
Burj Alluqluq Social Center
Abna’a Al-Quds Club
Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)
Arab Thought Form
Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine

And the following Palestinian sports clubs:

Youth Herak Movement, Gaza
Al-Istiklala Sports Club, Gaza
Jamai Rafah Sports Club, Gaza
Qatanna Sports Club
Issawiya Sports Club
Burj Al-Laqlaq Community Center
Old City Youth Association
Za’ayem Youth Sports Club
Youth Development Department YDD – Arab Studies Society
We Are All Palestine Youth Foundation
Qalandia Youth Center
Al-Quds Club
Jerusalem Club
De La Salle Club
Ahli Club – Jerusalem
Biddu Club
Terra Santa Custodia Center
Arab Sports Center
Beit Hanina Jerusalem Club
Al-Thori Youth Club
Abnaa’ Al-Quds Sports Club
The Youth Social Center – Shu’fat Refugee Camp
Arab Jahalin Club
Sur Baher Sport Club
Al-Ram Youth Club
Beit Safafa Arab Club
Prisoners’ Club in Jerusalem
Shumu’Al-Quds Association
Al-Jadeera Development Association
Young Men’s Muslim Association – Hizma / YMMA
Zahrat Almadaen Association
Center’s Union of the Palestinian Football Association
Jaba’ Sports Club
Beit Sourik Club
Palestinian Sports Academy
Mount of Olives Club
Al-Quds University – Abu Dis
Anata Youth Club
Anata’s Jerusalemite Youth Club
Jabal Al-Mukaber Club
Islamic Silwan Club
Al Jib Sports Club
Young Men’s Muslim Association – Al-Ram / YMMA
Hilal Al-Quds Club
Jerusalem Hilal Club 
Jerusalem Association of Martyr’s Families
Jerusalem Scouts Commission
Jerusalem Clubs League
Palestine Table Tennis Federation
Employee’s Club
Elia Youth Media Association
Elia Association for Youth
Beit ‘Anan Club

[1] See, for example, UN Security Council Resolutions 447 (1979); 465, 471 and 478 of 1980; ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Israeli Wall in occupied Palestinian territory, 9 July 2004.

[2] http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/65/331 See also: UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard, A/HRC/4/17 (29 Jan 2007); UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, A/HRC/16/72 (10 January 2011); Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Cape Town Session: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/sessions/south-africa/south-africa-session-%E2%80%94-full-findings/cape-town-session-summary-of-findings

[3] https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%201500/volume-1500-I-25822-English.pdf#sthash.BJds0og9.dpuf

[4] http://www.pij.org/details.php?id=333

[5] http://www.eccpalestine.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/EU_Homs_Jerusalem_Report_2012-1.pdf

[6] For sources see, “From diversity to racial segregation and domination: Palestinians in Jerusalem”, Fact Sheet, Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem. April 2014: http://www.civiccoalition-jerusalem.org/system/files/jerusalem_fact_sheet_4_2014.pdf

[7] Supra, Fact Sheet of the Civic Coalition-Jerusalem.

[8] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/1551-platini-threatens-to-annul-israels-membership-of-uefa

[9] http://www.bdsmovement.net/2012/footballers-condemn-plans-to-hold-u21-european-championship-in-israel-10120

[10] http://www.thenation.com/blog/178642/after-latest-incident-israels-future-fifa-uncertain

A call from Gaza: Make Israel Accountable for its Crimes in Gaza – Intensify BDS!

Fri, 05/09/2014 - 4:06pm

Occupied and still-besieged Gaza, 5 September 2014–From the ruins of our towns and cities in Gaza, we send our heartfelt appreciation to all those who stood with us and mobilized during the latest Israeli massacre. In the occupied West Bank, Israel has embarked on one of its largest illegal land grabs in decades by confiscating another 1000 acres of Palestinian land to expand its illegal colonies. Now, our battle to hold Israel accountable for its fresh war crimes and crimes against humanity has begun. The outcome of this battle to end Israeli impunity will determine whether Israel’s latest assault will be yet another stage in Israel’s “incremental genocide” of Palestinians or the turning point that will bring an end to Israel’s status as an entity above the law—the world’s dangerous pariah. The outcome of this battle depends on you.

Two months after its 2008-09 massacre in Gaza, Israel’s prize was an upgrade in trade relations with the European Union. By 2012, western powers in cooperation with the UN Secretary General had effectively prevented all investigation by the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel committed during the attack.

During the most recent massacre, on August 2nd 2014, three days after the occupation forces bombed the designated UN humanitarian shelter in Jabalya refugee camp, killing 20 civilians and wounding at least 150 people as they slept, the US Congress approved $225 million in additional military aid to Israel. The following day, the occupation forces bombed another UN shelter in Rafah killing ten civilians and injuring dozens. Also during the massacre, Germany sold Israel an attack submarine with nuclear capability, and Britain refused to freeze its arms sales to Israel. These and other forms of criminal complicity from world governments and official bodies pave the way for Israel’s ongoing genocidal attacks. It is up to people of conscience and all those who seek peace with justice worldwide to make sure this complicity ends now.

We urge you to stand with the Palestinian people in its entirety and to demand that Israel be held accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity it has committed and continues to commit against the Palestinian people everywhere. We urge you to intensify boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns to further isolate Israel economically, militarily, academically and culturally.

Intensify BDS against Israel in all fields, including by taking the following actions:

1. Working to have arrest warrants issued against Israeli war criminals and for them to be tried before your courts.

2. Pressuring governments to impose a comprehensive military embargo on Israel.

3. Pressuring governments to suspend all free trade and bilateral agreements with Israel until it complies with international law.

4. Building effective direct action against Israel and Israeli companies, such as the inspiring Block the Boat actions that prevented Israeli ships from unloading in California and Seattle, and the occupations of Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems’ factories in the UK and Australia.

5. Working within trade unions to raise awareness about Israel’s regime of oppression and engaging in effective BDS measures such as stopping handling of Israeli goods, divesting trade union funds from Israel and complicit companies, and boycotting complicit Israel trade unions. The trade union movement has a proud history of successful campaigning against apartheid in South Africa, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions has joined Palestinian trade unions in calling for trade union action to end Israel’s impunity.

6. Holding to account those corporations and retailers that support and profit from Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid, including by boycotting their products and taking creative and direct action. The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) has suggested a list of corporate criminals to target: http://www.bdsmovement.net/make-an-impact.

The majority of the world’s people are waking up to the reality of Israel’s rogue regime of oppression and racism. For the rest of what is supposed to be the International year of solidarity with the Palestinian people, demand an end to Israel’s criminal impunity. Stand with Gaza, and act for freedom, justice and peace in Palestine.

Issued by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) and the following Gaza organizations/unions:

Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (Umbrella for 133 orgs)
Medical Democratic Assembly
General Union of Palestine Workers
General Union for Health Services Workers
General Union for Public Services Workers
General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
General Union for Agricultural Workers
Union of Women’s Work Committees
Pal-Cinema (Palestine Cinema Forum)
Herak Youth Movement
Union of Women’s Struggle Committees
Union of Synergies—Women Unit
Union of Palestinian Women Committees
Women’s Studies Society
Working Woman’s Society
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
Gaza BDS Working Group
One Democratic State Group

Protestors block and delay Israeli ships up and down US West Coast

Thu, 28/08/2014 - 11:35am

Over the past two weeks, activists in port cities along the West Coast of the United States staged picket lines to prevent or delay vessels operated by Israel’s Zim shipping line from offloading cargo.

The actions had been planned at the height of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip that began on 7 July and ended with a ceasefire yesterday.

Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. is Israel’s biggest cargo shipping company and the tenth largest in the world. It’s 2013 revenue was $3.7 billion.

The action originated in Oakland, California, which set a high bar for others to follow. Protestors there successfully prevented the unloading of the Zim Piraeus container ship for nearly four full days.

But other cities’ more modest demonstrations were nevertheless successful in temporarily delaying the Zim ships from unloading, costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars, building momentum and signalling widespread support for such actions.

After Zim Piraeus departed Oakland on 20 August, two different Zim container ships were scheduled to dock in Tacoma and Seattle, Washington and in Long Beach, California. Weeks earlier, organizers in Oakland had reached out to Palestine solidarity groups in those cities to plan a coordinated shut-out of Zim cargo ships along the West Coast.

In Tacoma, the Zim Chicago was supposed to arrive at port on 18 August but was delayed from offloading until 23 August — which local organizer, Nada Elia describes as a victory for the Northwest Block the Boat Coalition.

Elia, a member of Antioch University’s faculty and a member of the steering committee of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), told The Electronic Intifada that the delay was partially due to a crane malfunction in Vancouver, British Columbia, but mostly due to protesters.

“The delay showed that they were trying to avoid the blockade,” Elia said. Throughout the week, activists around the state were poised — monitoring the Facebook page and then their phones for text alerts — to be called down at moment’s notice to Tacoma port for the picket. Elia said her group’s Facebook page was taken down with no explanation.

When the Zim Chicago docked on Saturday, activists rallied at the port and successfully blocked the two known entrances. But the port opened up a third, little-known entrance that allowed workers to cross the picket line and unload the containers from the Zim vessel.

The coalition that had formed around this action included Filipino group BAYAN, Queers Against Israeli apartheid and Occupy Seattle. Elia said people travelled from all around the state to attend the demonstration at the ports.

According to the Seattle Globalist, the delay cost the shipping company half a million dollars.

Limited goal

Elia said that the action’s organizers had to consider that their relationship with the longshoremen’s union in Seattle and Tacoma is not strong.

“The union’s response was, to put it mildly, not positive,” Elia said. “So we knew they were not going to be on our side.”

So they were very clear about their goal: “Our victory was determined if we were able to delay, which we very clearly did for at least three days.”

On 25 August the same Zim ship docked in Seattle and organizers were unable to prevent the workers from unloading. However, according to a press release issued by the coalition on 27 August, the ship may have delayed its arrival to the Seattle port by 24 hours in an effort to avoid the expected protests.

According to the press release, the Zim Chicago finished offloading in Tacoma the morning of 24 August, but did not begin to unload in Seattle — a port only a short distance away — until the evening of the next day, 25 August.

“We know of no other reason for the ship to wait for an open dock except to avoid spreading the impact of our blockade to other ships, who might then ask for refunds because of delays,” organizer Ed Mast states in the press release.

Getting labor onboard

Elia says that while organizers are content with the victory they set out to achieve, they hope to build their coalition: “At this point what we want to work on is getting labor on board — getting the union to realize this is an issue of social and global justice.”

Meanwhile, down the coast in Southern California’s Long Beach port, organizers were moved to mobilize an action in the span of only two and a half days after witnessing Oakland’s action.

“Oakland was so amazingly successful and it really inspired a lot of people,” Garrick Ruiz of BDS-Los Angeles told The Electronic Intifada. “We in Los Angeles wanted to do something along the same lines and that’s when the larger coalition came together.”

The coalition included American Muslims for PalestineUS Palestinian Community NetworkInternational Jewish Anti-Zionist Network’s labor division, Global Women’s Strike, Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles, Al-Awda (The Palestine Right to Return Coalition), ANSWER and BDS-LA.

Ruiz said that his group had done an informational picket on 13 August to gauge support of the action among the union, build a relationship with the rank and file members and provide information about the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Union’s call for US labor solidarity with Palestine and the efforts to blockade the Zim lines.

Ruiz said that the union as of now has been unresponsive to his group’s attempt to reach out by phone, mail and email.

But it wasn’t until the Oakland success that they decided to stage a picket line: when the Zim Haifa docked on 23 August in Long Beach, around 250 people rallied at the port until a union official sent workers for the morning shift home.

“We see this action as an important piece for building our movement, planning bigger actions and building solidarity with labor at the ports,” said Ruiz.

“In the big picture we called that demo in less than three days and everyone in that coalition put in an immense amount of work to make it happen. Now we’re stepping back to determine next steps.”

Ruiz said members of the coalition plan to attend a Labor Day parade on 1 September in Wilmington, Los Angeles to reach out to the ILWU and Teamsters unions.

And while the protests had been a direct demonstration against the devastating attack on Gaza, organizers are hoping to maintain pressure on ports and businessescontracting with Zim.

The movement to protest Zim is catching on in more cities. As a tool for activists and organizers, a new pastebin has been created that provides crucial information for tracking the activity of Zim vessels at various port cities across the US. There activists can see when and where Zim will be docking in their city.

Next up: a protest at Florida’s Tampa port is planned for 30 August.

Activist blockade delays Israeli ZIM ship another day at Port of Seattle

Wed, 27/08/2014 - 12:05pm

After delaying work on the Israeli freight ship ZIM CHICAGO at the Port of Tacoma, local human-rights activists have learned that they also delayed the arrival of ZIM CHICAGO into the Port of Seattle for another full day.

The unloading and loading of ZIM CHICAGO in the Port of Tacoma was completed by 8 AM on Sunday August 24. Ordinarily the ship would have moved to the Port of Seattle within a few hours and been ready for a longshore work shift starting that same Sunday at 6 PM. However, ZIM CHICAGO spent a full day anchored north of Vashon Island, only docking on Monday afternoon. As a result, the longshore work shift to unload the ship began a full 24 hours later, on Monday at 6 PM.

There was plenty of room for ZIM CHICAGO at its scheduled berth in Seattle, but ZIM CHICAGO waited until there were no other ships in a berth that could handle up to three other ships at once.

“We know of no other reason for the ship to wait for an open dock except to avoid spreading the impact of our blockade to other ships, who might then ask for refunds because of delays. This would not be out of simple goodwill toward other shipping lines, but rather to avoid isolation from other shipping lines that might refuse to share berths with ZIM ships in the future,”, said Ed Mast, one of the blockade organizers. “A full day’s delay costs ZIM not only the extra running time money for fuel and staff, but also potential losses in cargo diverted to other ships, as well as credibility with customers that might start to distrust the irregular schedule, and credibility with other shipping lines that might refuse to share berths with ZIM at this and other ports.”

At 5:00 PM on Monday, over 100 protestors gathered at the Port of Seattle to blockade the gates through which longshore workers would enter to unload ZIM CHICAGO. An almost equal number of police had been called, and those police used aggressive physical force to push back the blockaders and open pathways for longshore workers to enter. One arrest was made, though no physical aggression was reported from the blockaders.

“Delay was always our victory condition, since delay costs money to ZIM and sends a message to Israel that it will be increasingly isolated as long as it maintains its regime of apartheid against Palestinians, “ said Nada Elia, another organizer. “They once again delivered us this victory before they reached the port and before we even understood it. We owe this success to the previous successful blockades against ZIM ships in Oakland and Los Angeles, as well as our own blockade in Tacoma. We plan to continue resisting business-as-usual for ZIM and other Israeli companies as long as Israel’s apartheid continues.”

The blockade actions at the Port of Seattle slowed down the entrance of longshore workers to the terminal where the ZIM ship was docked, though it is not yet clear whether or not the blockade caused actual delays to the start of unloading the ZIM ship beyond the 24-hour initial delay in docking.

The West Coast blockades of Israeli ZIM ships are part of the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel for its ongoing violations of human rights and international law, including Israel’s recent assault on the captive population of Gaza, during which Israel bombed schools, several hospitals, seven UN-­designated shelters, Gaza’s only power plant, and Gaza’s water purification system. More than 2000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed by Israel’s attacks over the past month.

Local activists are also responding to the Palestinian General Federation Trade Unions’ call for international supporters to take action in support of the people of Gaza. A letter signed by 93 Gazan civil society members, including teachers, doctors, and lawyers, demands three basic rights:
1) freedom for Palestinians to move freely in and out of Gaza;
2) unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air;
3) unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport.

Statement regarding the acquisition of Elbit technology by the Philippines

Tue, 26/08/2014 - 11:08am

Do not profit from Israel’s military aggressions against the Palestinian people

With strong disappointment we have read the news about the announced delivery of 28 Israeli upgraded APCs (armored personnel carriers) to the Philippines’ army. According to news reports, the US$20 million deal was signed with the Israeli military company Elbit Systems on June 22, 2014 and the first APCs are to be handed over in 2015 .

Since July 8, Israel has been waging a brutal military aggression against 1.8 million Palestinians in the occupied and tightly besieged Gaza Strip. Over 2122 Palestinians have been killed, over ten thousand injured , and much of the civilian infrastructure destroyed. Universities, schools, UN humanitarian shelters, the sanitation system and the only electricity plant in Gaza have been bombed by Israel, aggravating an already devastated civilian infrastructure.

Palestinians thank the government of the Philippines for voting in favour the UN Human Rights Council resolution (A/HRC/S-21/L.1) on ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including East Jerusalem. But we wish to highlight the utter contradiction inherent in the decision of the Philippines government to buy Israeli weapons that are “field-tested” on Palestinian civilians in Gaza while simultaneously condemning “in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 13 June 2014 that may amount to international crimes” .

The Israeli assault on Gaza, described by leaders in France, Brazil, Turkey and elsewhere as a “massacre,” has been dubbed by the Israeli media a ‘cash cow’ for the Israeli arms industry, which is testing and displaying its weapons during the repeated Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian and other Arab people. De facto, the ties of complicity of the Israeli arms industry in the Israeli policies of human rights violations extend from war profiteering, to knowingly providing weaponry and technology that are persistently used in the Israeli commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity during its belligerent military attacks, to participation in the construction of the illegal Israeli Wall and colonial settlement enterprise.

Elbit Systems, the leading Israeli weapons manufacturer benefiting from the reported contract, provides equipment for the Israeli Merkava tanks and produces the armed drones used in the wars and attacks against civilians in Gaza and Lebanon. Elbit Systems provides the “intrusion detection systems” for the Israeli Apartheid Wall, which is crippling Palestinian communities by isolating them in walled-in ghettos. Moreover, Elbit subsidiaries supplied and incorporated LORROS surveillance cameras in the illegal Ariel settlement section as well as around Ar-Ram in the OPT. This makes Elbit directly complicit in Israel’s grave violations of international law and human rights .

For this reason, the Norwegian finance ministry has already in 2009 instructed the state pension fund, the largest sovereign fund in the world, to divest from Elbit Systems, and over a dozen private and public financial institutions in Europe and elsewhere have followed suit. The then Special Rapporteur of the UN for the human rights situation in the occupied Arab territories has called on a boycott of Elbit Systems, and the recently released legal analysis signed by 92 high level legal experts and 41 Palestinian and international legal organizations also points to the illegality of public contracts with corporations involved in serious breaches of peremptory norms of international law, such as Elbit.

We are therefore calling on the government of the Philippines to act in line with its international obligations under international law resulting from the condemnation of Israel’s aggression on the occupied Palestinian territories, the recognition of the sovereignty of the Palestinian state and the ratification of the international conventions on human rights. We ask the government to cancel this contract, and we call on the parliament not to approve the contract or allocate the necessary budget for its implementation.

We trust that the people and the government of the Philippines will stand in support of human rights, international law and a just peace in Palestine and will take the right steps not to become complicit in the ongoing Israeli crimes against our people.

BNC
Occupied Palestine

Holocaust survivors condemn Israel for ‘Gaza massacre,’ call for boycott

Sat, 23/08/2014 - 11:04am

Hundreds of Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors have signed a letter, published as an advertisement in Saturday’s New York Times, condemning “the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza” and calling for a complete boycott of Israel.

According to the letter, the condemnation was prompted by an advertisement written by Elie Wiesel and published in major news outlets worldwide, accusing Hamas of “child sacrifice” and comparing the group to the Nazis.

The letter, signed by 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors and sponsored by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, accuses Wiesel of “abuse of history” in order to justify Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip:

“…we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.”

The letter also blames the United States of aiding Israel in its Gaza operation, and the West in general of protecting Israel from condemnation.

“Genocide begins with the silence of the world,” the letter reads.

The letter ends with a call to bring the blockade of Gaza to an immediate end, and for a full boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!,” the letter concludes.

Full text of letter:

“Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

“As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

“We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

“Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

“We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”

For full list of the letter’s signatories, click here

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