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RT @jp_dutch: #BDS RT @ggreenwald: The #BlockTheBoat movement says they succeeded in forcing an #Israeli ship to re-rout to Russia http://… — 23 hours 2 min ago
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The Palestinian BDS National Committee website
Updated: 20 hours 41 min ago

Kuwait to boycott 50 companies over role in illegal Israeli settlements

Mon, 27/10/2014 - 2:10pm

Direct action by Palestinian activists in the Sha’ar Binyamin settlement, West Bank

The government of Kuwait has announced that it will not deal with 50 companies due to their role in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory in a move being welcomed by campaigners as a landmark success for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The blacklisted companies include some of the top corporate targets of the BDS movement, such as Volvo, Heidelberg Cement, Dexia, Pizzarotti, Alstom as well as Veolia. Veolia was recently excluded from a $750m contract, and “all future contracts,” by Kuwaiti authorities over its role in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project and other projects that serve illegal Israeli settlements.

The blacklisted companies are expected to be excluded from contracts worth billions of dollars, especially if other Arab countries take similar steps.

According to media reports, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Commerce and Industry is also investigating the Kuwaiti operations of G4S, the British security company that secures Israeli military checkpoints and colonies and helps Israel run prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners are tortured, with a view to cancelling its license to operate if it does not terminate its participation in Israeli violations of international law.

Zaid Shuaibi, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the largest coalition of Palestinian trade unions, parties, NGOs and popular committees that leads the global BDS movement, said:

“This landmark decision means that international companies will now pay an even heavier price for participating in Israeli violations of international law.

“As European banks and pension funds continue to divest from Israel’s occupation and companies such as Veolia and G4S lose billions of dollars as a result of sustained, effective grassroots campaigning, many firms will now be wondering whether supporting Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid is good for business,” said Shuaibi.

Many European governments have taken steps to discourage firms from having economic links to the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, but this is the first time a government has decided to boycott international companies over their role in illegal Israeli settlements.

The Kuwaiti move, which follows lobbying by the Palestinian BDS National Committee and its partners in Kuwait, implements a decision of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), taken at a summit of foreign ministers at the height of the Israeli massacre in Gaza in August, to “impose political and economic sanctions on Israel, and boycott the corporations that operate in the colonial settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory.”

The Arab Summit of 2006 in Khartoum unanimously called for punitive measures against the companies, including Veolia and Alstom, involved in Israel’s colonization of Jerusalem.

The BNC has been working closely with BDS Kuwait since 2010 on advocating for accountability measures against international corporations that are complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights.

Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement and a member of the BNC secretariat, commented on this unprecedented BDS victory saying, “We warmly welcome this important decision in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and self determination, and we urge the Kuwaiti government to implement it in full, including by cancelling any existing contracts with the blacklisted companies, as well as others that are also complicit, and ensuring that state money is not invested in any company, such as G4S, that enables Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights and international law.”

“In the wake of Israel’s massacre in Gaza, which was only made possible with the support of international governments and companies, we urge all governments, especially Arab League and OIC members, to impose sanctions on Israel and take action against the complicit corporations that profit from Israel’s occupation and crimes,” added Barghouti.

International companies that participate in Israel’s violations of international law have faced increasing pressure as a result of BDS campaigning in recent years.

Veolia recently announced that it intends to sell off large parts of its business in Israel after boycott campaigns cost the company more than $23bn – not counting Veolia’s latest losses in Kuwait — in lost potential contracts, although the French multinational will still remain involved in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail Project.

British security giant G4S has pledged to end some aspects of its involvement in torture-ridden Israel’s prison system and checkpoints after trade unions, NGOs, universities and other public bodies cancelled contracts with the company.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted in June to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard over their role in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

In January, Dutch pension giant PGGM announced it was divesting from five Israeli banks due to their support for illegal Israeli settlements. In February, it emerged that the sovereign fund of Luxembourg had taken a similar step, excluding nine Israeli banks and firms from its portfolio. In the months that followed, banks and pension funds in Norway, the Netherlands, the US and Denmark made similar announcements.


  1. French multinational Veolia helps to operate the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail that facilitates the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and owns a landfill site in an illegal Israeli settlement
  2. Swedish multinational Volvo provides heavy machinery used for the demolition of Palestinian houses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, construction of Israeli settlements and construction of the illegal apartheid Wall
  3. German firm Heidelberg Cement operates quarries in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank
  4. Belgian bank Dexia Israel has been giving long-term loans and other financial services to municipalities of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories
  5. Italian firm Pizzarotti is assisting with the construction of an illegal Israeli railway that passes through illegally occupied Palestinian territory
  6. For more information on European banks divesting from Israeli or international companies that participate in Israeli violations of international law, see

More than 500 anthropologists back academic boycott of Israel

Sat, 25/10/2014 - 9:19am

Palestinian children play near houses destroyed during Israel’s summer offensive, in the Shujaiya neighborhood east of Gaza City, 5 October, on the second day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha.  (Mohammed Asad / APA images)

More than 500 anthropologists from around the world have signed a new call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

According to a statement issued on 1 October, the scholars call upon Israel to:

End its siege of Gaza, its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, and dismantle the settlements and the walls;

Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the stateless Negev Bedouins to full equality; and

Respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The initial list of signatories featured more than 250 names, including academics from Australia, Canada, China, Holland, India, Lebanon, Palestine, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the United States. Colleagues from Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Chile, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Kuwait, Portugal, Qatar, Mexico, the Philippines and South Africa, among others, have added their support.

“The recent military assault on the Gaza Strip by Israel is only the latest reminder that the world’s governments and mainstream media do not hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law,” the statement notes, offering a rationale for civil society action.

Amongst the signatories are major names in the anthropology field, including Professors Jean and John Comaroff of Harvard University, Professors Lila Abu-Lughod and Michael Taussig of Columbia University, Talal Asad of CUNY and Sherry Ortner and Susan Slymovics of UCLA.

The list also includes a number of specialists on Palestine itself, including Nadia Abu El Haj of Barnard College, Glenn Bowman of the University of Kent, Julie Peteet of the University of Louisville and Rosemary Sayigh, probably one of the best-known writers and scholars on Palestine since the 1970s.

Organizers also noted, however, that “In addition, 46 scholars have elected to sign this statement anonymously” and that at least forty of these were untenured academics, post-doctoral fellows or graduate students. This seems to suggest that academic staff without the protection of tenure still feel that they may face harassment or discrimination if they speak up for Palestinian rights.

The group of anthropologists joins a number of US academic associations, including the American Studies Association, the African Literature Association, the Association for Asian American Studies and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association in supporting the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

In doing so, the anthropologists pledge “not to collaborate on projects and events hosted or funded by Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or attend conferences or other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel.” However, as with other boycott supporters, “They remain open to collaboration with individual scholars based in the Israeli academy.”

From colonialism to solidarity

In addition to their generic support for the call for an academic boycott, the announcement notes that anthropology as a discipline “specialize[s] in how power, oppression, and structural violence affect social life, and as witnesses to the State of Israel’s multiple and egregious violations of international law that constitute an assault on Palestinian culture and society, they pledge to abide by their discipline’s stated commitment to ‘the promotion and protection of the right of people and people’s everywhere to the full realization of their humanity.’”

The statement also notes anthropology’s history as a discipline which, having started out with close links to colonialism, has endeavored to become a means of supporting the self-determination and liberation of the peoples with whom it works.

“In responding to the Palestinian call,” the statement continues, “we seek to practice what the [American Anthropological Association] calls an ‘engaged anthropology’ that is “committed to supporting social change efforts that arise from the interaction between community goals and anthropological research.” Anthropological research has illuminated the destructive effects of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian society.”

In addition to acknowledging the wide-ranging impacts of Israeli occupation and militarism on Palestinian people, the statement also notes the particular effects on higher education – including recent raids on a number of Palestinian universities, among them Birzeit University, the Arab American University in Jenin and Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, and the destruction of large parts of the Islamic University of Gaza.

This is explicitly contrasted with the “unconditional support” pledged for the Israeli military by universities including Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, Haifa Univerity, Ben-Gurion University and Technion.

The anthropologists’ statement, while singling out the “intimate” connection between Israeli academia and militarism, also notes that anthropologists have taken strong ethical stances on other countries and organizations complicit in human rights abuses, including the South African apartheid regime, abusers of indigenous and minority rights in Chile, Brazil and Bulgaria, the brutal Pinochet regime in Chile and commercial boycotts including those of the Hilton Hotel chain and Coca-Cola.

The full statement and signatory list are at, as are contact details for those wishing to add their names to the list.

Israel excluded from Italy military exercises after protests

Mon, 20/10/2014 - 8:29am

The Israeli air force has been removed from the list of armed forces now taking part in multinational military training exercises on the Italian island of Sardinia following a campaign by anti-war activists.

During Israel’s deadly 51-day bombing campaign on Gaza in July and August, anti-militarization and Palestine solidarity groups mobilized against the military drills in general, and Israel’s participation in particular.

Palestinians in Gaza, standing in the rubble of destroyed homes, posted photographs appealing directly to Italy not to “train the pilots who bombs us.”

The prospect of Israeli F-16s using the island to train for bombing missions, combined with the ill-timed delivery to Israel of two Italian trainer jets just after the attacks on Gaza began, created public outrage in Italy, with multiple calls for an embargo on weapons cooperation with Israel.

On 31 July, the Italian defense ministry published a note in an attempt to calm the waters. Without mentioning Israel, the ministry note stated that the planning stages for the drills had not yet been completed and only upon completion would the participating countries be confirmed.

The drills started last month and are scheduled to run until December.

As speculation on the possible exclusion of Israel continued, so did the mobilizations. A demonstration on 13 September at the Capo Frasca firing range, where Israel was to train, saw large-scale participation.

More than 350 people broke into the military area in an act of civil disobedience.


On 25 September, Gioacchino Alfano, Italy’s deputy defense minister, responded to a parliamentary question by claiming that military drills with the Israeli air force were never in the plans and therefore could not have been suspended.

That statement contradicted a March 2014 document from the Capo Frasca firing range, which clearly indicated that Israel was to take part in drills during the second half of 2014.

Furthermore, Israel has participated in similar drills undertaken in Sardinia in recent years, as photographs posted by the Israeli military prove.

Israeli air force jets take part in a 2010 military exercise on the Italian island of Sardinia. (Israel Defense Forces/Flickr)

A source at the Italian defense ministry told The Electronic Intifada that “no Israeli military personnel will be involved in the exercises.”

“We can consider this a small victory. It demonstrates that grassroots pressure can affect government decision-making,” commented Fawzi Ismail, president of the Sardinia-Palestine Friendship Association. “Public opinion had its say and apparently the Italian government and NATO felt it inopportune to have Israel participate after the attacks on Gaza.”

Ismail noted that the mobilizations against the training exercises will continue. The Italian, German and US militaries are all participating in the drills.

During the exercises, bombs, missiles and artillery rounds are being fired across the island from tanks, helicopters, combat jets and warships.

Power of action

Further demonstrations are planned over the next few weeks.

Sardinians have made it clear that they intend to continue campaigning against the takeover of their land by military forces.

A number of private firms are also involved in the exercises. Among them are Alenia Aermacchi, part of the Finmeccanica group, Italy’s top weapons manufacturer. Alenia will be testing its M-346 trainer jet.

Two of those jets were delivered to Israel in July. They were part of a consignment of thirty jets that Israel has ordered from the company as part of a $1 billion deal, which gives Italy the dubious honor of being Europe’s top weapons provider to Israel.

It would be naive to see the exclusion of Israel as a change in direction for the Italian government, considering the strong ties between the two countries. But it is a testament to the power of grassroots action.

Stephanie Westbrook is a US citizen based in Rome, Italy. Her articles have been published by Common Dreams, Counterpunch, The Electronic Intifada, In These Times and Z Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @stephinrome.

Los Angeles activists block unloading of Israeli cargo ship for two days

Sun, 19/10/2014 - 8:56am

The Block the Boat coalition of Los Angeles claimed another victory this weekend after an Israeli cargo ship, the Zim Savannah, delayed docking at the port of Long Beach for at least 34 hours.

Cookie Partansky, an organizer with the LA Block the Boat coalition, told The Electronic Intifada that approximately 150 activists gathered at the Los Angeles port at 6am on Saturday, 18 October. The morning’s action followed weeks of communication with the longshoremen’s union and educating workers about Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine, as well as the group’s reasons for targeting Zim, an Israeli shipping line.

The coalition — representing nineteen different activism groups — showed up at the port Saturday morning despite being informed at 5am by a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 13 that the ship was still at sea and no workers had been called in to unload it.

“The fact that the boat is delayed for 24 hours is already costing Zim shipping a significant amount of money because their entire schedule will be delayed. This is already a victory for us,” Partansky said Saturday afternoon.

Another protest planned

The Block the Boat activists had planned to return to the port Sunday morning, in hopes to again stop the unloading of the ship after the 24 hour delay ended, but were informed by the union on Saturday at 4pm that the morning shift had been canceled.

Now the group plans to return to the Long Beach port Sunday afternoon, at 4pm, when the ship has been rescheduled to unload.

Partansky said that while the rank and file members of LA’s ILWU Local 13 have been more “reserved” in their support for the Block the Boat actions than those in the Bay Area union chapter, the LA coalition has continued to reach out to the union and the port truck workers in order to secure their support, and increase their understanding of why the anti-Zim picket lines have been organized.

Block the Boat LA, which delayed a Zim ship from unloading on 23 August, was formed in the image of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Block the Boat coalition. That group aimed to prevent the offloading of Zim ships at the Oakland port in response to the brutal, 51-day military assault by Israel on Gaza this summer.

The Bay Area Block the Boat campaign was launched in August and delayed the Zim line for four straight days — widely considered a historically successful action in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. Other Bay Area activists also delayed the ship from unloading in Oakland on 27 September, and the Bay Area Block the Boat coalition is readying for yet another port shutdown on 25 October.


The Zim Savannah has again delayed its arrival at the port of Long Beach until Monday, 5pm local time. In a statement to the press, the Block the Boat coalition writes, “Each reschedule has an economic consequence, every twelve hours the Zim vessel is not unloaded the cost is in the thousands of dollars; a victory for Block The Boat Los Angeles.”


Cairo donor conference: Palestinian civil society calls for public scrutiny of aid and zero complicity with Israeli violations of international law

Sun, 12/10/2014 - 6:02pm

Occupied Palestine, 12 October 2014 – As governments, aid agencies and the Palestinian Authority meet in Cairo to discuss Gaza reconstruction after Israel’s latest 51-day military assault last summer, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society unions, political parties and organisations, condemns in the strongest terms the UN-brokered reconstruction mechanism, which further entrenches Israel’s illegal blockade of 1.8 million Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip, allows Israel to reap financial benefits from its war crimes and, therefore, encourages their continuation.

Donor money pledges are no substitute for holding Israel accountable for its grave violations of international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, and achieving justice for the Palestinian victims. The BNC calls on donors, international agencies and NGOs to adopt a clear and ethically responsible policy of transparency and zero complicity in aid delivery. The BNC also reiterates its call for a comprehensive and legally-binding military embargo on Israel and has delivered a petition with this demand to the UN.[1]

In addition, we call on states to support the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent Investigation Commission into all violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed in Gaza and elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory since June, with the aim of bringing those responsible to justice.

Israel’s blockade and repeated military assaults against the occupied Gaza Strip are part and parcel of systematic Israeli efforts to permanently separate the tiny Gaza Strip from the West Bank and “get rid” of its large Palestinian population, most of them refugees of the 1948 Nakba with unresolved rights and claims in Israel. Under the pretense of its redeployment out of Gaza in 2005, Israel treats the occupied Gaza Strip as a “separate” and “hostile” entity, violates the territorial integrity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), and murders and imposes inhumane living conditions and collective punishment on Gaza’s Palestinian population. All of these are acts characteristic of a regime of colonialism and apartheid.

The BNC calls on UN agencies, the ICRC and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), which will once more deliver a large chunk of reconstruction aid to Gaza, to end their active and ongoing complicity with Israel’s blockade. For over seven years, the UN, the ICRC and INGOs have operated within the confines of Israel’s policy of separation and collective punishment, while issuing only token calls for the blockade to be lifted. With the recently brokered reconstruction mechanism for Gaza, the UN has even gone a step further, by willingly taking on the management of aspects of the blockade on behalf of Israel in complete disregard for its international law obligations.[2]

No effort was made in all these years to physically break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, as the ICRC sought to do, for instance, with the sea blockade of Misrata (Libya) in 2011. Aid actors have also failed to adopt a collective position of refusal to cooperate with Israeli illegal demands, although they are required to do so and have done so in other contexts in order to put pressure on governments engaged in limiting humanitarian space. Why is a double standard used when dealing with Israel’s grave violations of international law and the dire humanitarian situation that result from them, particularly in Gaza?

One example of the complicity of aid agencies is a recent multi-million dollar contract awarded by UNDP to Mifram LTD[3], an Israeli company that develops mobile steel military watchtowers and checkpoints used in the occupied West Bank by the Israeli military to limit Palestinian freedom of movement and enable the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land.

Another example is the recent agreement of aid actors to source cement for the reconstruction of Gaza from Nesher, an Israeli company that illegally quarries in the occupied West Bank[4] and supplies cement for the construction of settlements, the Wall and other associated illegal infrastructure, all in blatant violation of international law. Millions of dollars are expected to flow to Nesher for the reconstruction of the 18,000 homes Israel wantonly destroyed in Gaza, helping Israel profit from its war crimes.

The BNC calls for public scrutiny of aid. Like governments and private business, agencies delivering aid to Palestinians must be held accountable for their routine disregard of the principle of “do no harm” and the promotion of political agendas through their operations. Previous attempts by Palestinian civil society to raise these issues have largely fallen on deaf ears. Promises of “follow up” by senior UN officials were quietly brushed aside, with no serious effort for transparency or accountability.

The BNC urges the UN, ICRC and INGOs operating in the OPT to present in writing steps for non-recognition, aid or assistance to the maintenance of the illegal situation created by Israel. In particular, we call for rules of procurement, which exclude companies, Israeli or other, that are complicit in Israel’s serious violations of international law and abuses of Palestinian human rights in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza and which prevent Israeli profit or benefit from the humanitarian assistance process. We also call for a periodic mechanism of full disclosure of procurement contracts to the public, including Palestinian civil society.



[3] (last accessed 12 October 2014)

[4] Israel is prohibited from exploiting the natural resources belonging to the OPT in a way that undermines their capital and results in economic benefits for Israeli citizens, including settlers, or for its national economy:

Nobel laureates and 60,000 others call for military embargo on Israel

Sun, 12/10/2014 - 8:15am

More Than 60,000 Signatories, Including Nobel Prize Laureates, Celebrities and Religious Organizations, Call For Military Embargo on Israel Ahead of Gaza Donors Conference

New York, NY – As international donors prepare to gather in Cairo on October 12 for a conference to rebuild Gaza after the devastation inflicted by Israel in its 51-day assault last summer, the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) delivered apetition signed by over 60,000 people including Nobel Laureates, artists and public intellectuals, to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling on the UN and governments around the world to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel, similar to that imposed on South Africa during the apartheid era.

The petition highlights the complicity of the United States, the European Union, and other countries, through their entrenched military trade agreements with Israel, in the crimes Israel is committing against the Palestinian people. It states: “By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.”

Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), said: “The recent brutal Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, including 501 children, could only be carried out because of the impunity and military aid Israel is provided by the international community.”

“During the donor reconstruction conference on October 12, we want to remind governments of their complicity in Israel’s violations of international law, and their legal and moral responsibility for ending it,” Nawajaa added. “The governments of the world cannot provide Israel the military hardware it uses to destroy Palestinian lives and at the same time claim that they support Palestinian rights. It’s time for world leaders to put their money where their mouths are and to support nonviolent Palestinian-led efforts such as this to defend themselves and secure their rights.”

Signatories to the petition include Nobel Peace Laureates Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu,Adolfo Peres EsquivelJody WilliamsMairead MaguireRigoberta Menchú and Betty Williams; intellectuals and academics such as Noam ChomskyRashid KhalidiJudith Butler,Ilan Pappé, and David Palumbo-Liu; artists such as authors Alice Walker and Michael Ondaatje, musicians Roger WatersBrian Eno, and Boots Riley, and filmmakers Mira NairMike Leigh,Ken Loach, and John Pilger; and faith groups such as American Jews for a Just Peace, theBaptist Peace Fellowship of North America, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, the Quaker Palestine Israel Network, and the United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network. The call for an arms embargo against Israel is also supported by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.

The Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) is the coordinating body for the growing global boycott and divestment initiatives being carried out by unions, faith-based organizations, civil society groups and academics and cultural workers against Israel until it ends its occupation and colonization of Palestine.

The petition was submitted on behalf of the BNC by three U.S.-based human rights organizations:Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of IsraelJewish Voice for Peace, andCODEPINK Women for Peace.

For more on the petition, visit:


Palestinian Civil Society Salutes California Dockworkers and Endorses their “Block-the-Boat” BDS Action

Sat, 11/10/2014 - 3:53pm

Occupied Palestine, 7 October 2014 – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian society that leads the global BDS movement for Palestinian rights, warmly salutes the Oakland, California dockworkers and community activists for their inspiring new victory against the Israeli container ship Zim on 27 September 2014.

As widely reported, community and trade union activists demonstrating against the recent Israeli massacre in Gaza have launched a 200-strong fresh picket at the Port of Oakland in California, preventing the Zim Shanghai from unloading its cargo.

Heeding Palestinian civil society’s call from Gaza for intensifying BDS actions against Israel and its complicit companies and institutions, the “Block the Boat” campaign activists gathered at the port to prevent the Zim from offloading. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU-Local 10) refused to unload the ship, citing “safety fears.”

The 5 September Call from Gaza, issued by the BNC and the main trade and professional unions, women’s associations and mass movements in Gaza, called for:

“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 … .”

Abdulrahman Abu Nahel, BNC coordinator in Gaza, commented on this fresh victory saying, “This success will further boost the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s ability to hold Israel to account for its siege of Gaza and other crimes committed against the Palestinian people.”

“The dockworkers of ILWU-Local 10 and Oakland community activists are showing what effective, principled solidarity looks like. We deeply appreciate their ongoing support for our struggle for freedom, justice and equality,” added Abu Nahel.

BDS National Committee (BNC)

SodaStream: is BDS hitting where it hurts?

Sat, 11/10/2014 - 3:50pm

This morning, the Israeli-based fizz merchant SodaStream announced miserable preliminary financial results for the quarter ending September 30. Its stock promptly fell by over 20%, compounding losses over the last year. It’s now more than 70% off its all-time high set in July 2011, and the company may well put itself up for sale.

The company’s explanation of the glum performance was not much of an explanation at all. From their official release:

“We are very disappointed in our recent performance,” said Daniel Birnbaum, Chief Executive Officer of SodaStream. “Our U.S. business underperformed due to lower than expected demand for our soda makers and flavors which was the primary driver of the overall shortfall in the third quarter. While we were successful over the last few years in establishing a solid base of repeat users in the U.S., we have not succeeded in attracting new consumers to our home carbonation system at the rate we believe should be achieved. The third quarter results are a clear indication that we must alter our course and improve our execution across the board. We have already begun a strategic shift of the SodaStream brand towards health & wellness, primarily in the U.S., where we believe this message will resonate more strongly with consumers….”

In other words, sales were off because not enough people are buying the product.

Media reports (like this one) glossed the company’s explanation with the commonplace that Americans are losing their taste for soda. But SodaStream’s fizz-inducing system’s could be used to make bubbly water (0 calories) or effervescent fruit juices. You could probably even gas up your kale juice if you wanted to, which is beyond my imagining. According to the company’s nutrition information page, its flavors have about a third the calories of comparable sodas like Coke and Sprite. So if Americans are really losing their taste for the really sweet stuff, SodaStream should already be well-positioned as a possible alternative, not a victim of these changing preferences.

Not mentioned in either the company’s release or any news report I’ve seen: the global boycott of Israeli products. SodaStream is especially vulnerable, compared to a company based in Israel itself, because its major factory is in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. SodaStream has factories in Israel proper and elsewhere in the world, but its presence in the Occupied Territories make it particularly vulnerable to a boycott, a risk the company acknowledged in its most recent annual report.

Earlier in the year, Scarlett Johansson was relieved of her role as her role as an “ambassador” for Oxfam, because the charity believed “that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.” That move attracted global attention. It may be that Johansson’s star power did more to publicize the boycott than it did the company’s products.

So is the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel costing a real-world company real money? SodaStream isn’t talking; a query to the firm’s publicist has gone unanswered, which is unusual behavior for a publicist who wants to talk. But it’s looking like the answer may well be yes.

G4S loses out on Irish government contract

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 8:19am

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) today hailed the Irish government’s decision to award the lucrative JobPath state contract to tender applicants other than the Anglo-Danish G4S security firm. The IPSC had run a campaign calling on the government not to grant this to G4S which it says both enables and profiteers from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The IPSC, along with several other human rights organisations and concerned individuals, sent a letter to the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, under whose auspices the JobPath scheme is being operated, outlining our opposition to the inclusion of G4S in the scheme due to their occupation activities in Palestine, most notoriously their presence in the Israeli prison system[1].

Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer and human rights organisation Al-Haq both also sent letters, while the IPSC ran an online campaign asking members and supporters to also write directly to the Department making their opposition to G4S known. The IPSC also organised several protests and information stalls highlighting the role of G4S in the Israeli prison system, including a symbolic blockade of a G4S van on Grafton Street.

Martin O’Quigley, IPSC Chairperson, today said “We are celebrating the fact that G4S, which for many years has facilitated the imprisonment and torture of Palestinians in Israel’s illegal prison system, has lost yet another contract. We are glad that the Irish state has chosen not to give taxpayers’ money to this notorious corporation. This is a small victory for Palestinians, and we hope it will encourage G4S to remove itself from all operations that help enforce the brutal, decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

In June, G4S announced at its AGM that it “will end all its Israeli prison contracts within the next three year”, along with its services at Israeli checkpoints. However, as Randa Wahbe of Addameer noted, ” This has no immediate effect on those facing human rights violations inside Israel’s prisons today [and] G4S has a long track record of saying one thing but doing another”. Therefore the IPSC believes that pressure on G4s to divest from Israel must be kept up until such time as it has ceased providing such service.

Michael Deas, European Coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Nation Committee says that “Since the campaign against G4S was launched in 2012 by Addameer and other prisoner organizations, G4S has lost contracts with universities, banks, charities and public bodies around the world. Furthermore, the OECD is currently preparing an investigation into G4S following a complaint by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights that the company is breaching OECD guidelines on business and human rights.”


As noted in the joint letter to the Dept. Social Protection: “G4S provides security systems for major Israeli prisons, including the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons that hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory, inside Israel in contravention of international law. The company has also provided equipment for Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, and for Kishon and Moskobiyyeh detention facilities, at which human rights organisations have documented systematic torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners. In February 2013, Jaradat Arafat died following interrogation in a G4S-secured facility.

“In addition to these unlawful activities, G4S provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank that form part of the route of Israel’s illegal wall, and to the terminals isolating the occupied territory of Gaza. G4S holds contracts for the provision of equipment and services for the West Bank Israeli Police headquarters and to private businesses based in illegal Israeli settlements. The EU has recently issued a directive excluding trade with settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. A panel of legal experts have concluded that G4S may be criminally liable for its activities in support of Israel’s illegal wall and other violations of international law.”


[1] This letter was signed by Academics for Palestine, AfrI, Donal O’Kelly, Elaine Bradley, Gaza Action Ireland, Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Irish Anti-War Movement, Mairead Maguire, Palestinian Community in Ireland, Peace and Neutrality Alliance, Ruairi McKiernan, Sadaka – the Ireland Palestine Alliance, Shannonwatch and Trade Union Friends of Palestine.

The letter in full reads:

21 March 2014

Dear Minister Burton,

It has come to our attention that G4S is leading a consortium to tender for the JobPath contract being offered by your department. As a group of organisations and individuals working for human rights in Palestine, we strongly urge you not to award this contract to G4S on the grounds of their complicity with Israel’s occupation and breaches of international law.

Ireland has taken a strong position on human rights in Palestine, funding the work of organisations such as the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Further, Ireland’s commitment to upholding the Geneva Conventions is clearly stated on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website:

Ireland is firmly committed to the effective application and further development of international humanitarian law. Ireland played an active role in the negotiation of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, recognising it as an essential means for bringing to justice those responsible for the most serious international crimes, including grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other serious violations of the laws and customs of law (‘war crimes’).

G4S provides security systems for major Israeli prisons including the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons that hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel in contravention of international law. The company has also provided equipment for Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, and for Kishon and Moskobiyyeh detention facilities, at which human rights organisations have documented systematic torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners[i], including child prisoners (see the UNICEF Report Children in Israeli Military Detention, 2013)[ii]. In February 2013, Jaradat Arafat died following interrogation in a G4S – secured facility[iii].

In addition to these unlawful activities, G4S provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank that form part of the route of Israel’s illegal wall, and to the terminals isolating the occupied territory of Gaza. G4S holds contracts for the provision of equipment and services for the West Bank Israeli Police headquarters and to private businesses based in illegal Israeli settlements. The EU has recently issued a directive excluding trade with settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. A panel of legal experts have concluded that G4S may be criminally liable for its activities in support of Israel’s illegal wall and other violations of international law[iv].

Labour MEP for Dublin, Emer Costello, Is currently leading a cross-party European Parliament delegation to Israel to examine the situation of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

According to Emer Costello, MEP “The visit takes place on foot of a European Parliament resolution adopted in March 2013, following the death of a Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat. More than 200 Palestinians lost their lives in Israeli prisons and detention centres since 1967 and the resolution highlighted the plight of prisoners being held in Israel.

“Israel continues to extensively use administrative detention, without formal charge or trial, against Palestinians as a substitute to fair judicial process. Palestinian prisoners are held in prisons and detention centres that are, all but one, located inside Israel, which creates major obstacles to family visits. Women remain a particularly vulnerable group among Palestinian prisoners while hundreds of Palestinian children under the age of 18 are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army and prosecuted through Israeli military courts every year.”

The EU delegation has been denied access to Israel’s prisons by Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. This is the system, lacking in transparency and accountability, that G4S is party to.

Awareness of G4S’s role in Israel/Palestine and its infringements of international law and the Geneva Convention are increasing[v]. In April 2012, the European Union decided not to renew a security contract with G4S after MEPs and campaign groups raised concerns over the company’s role in “equipping Israeli prisons in which Palestinian political prisoners are held in violation of international law”. The contract was a significant loss for G4S, which had provided security services to the European Parliament buildings since 2008[vi]. The OECD is due to investigate G4S’s supplying of equipment for checkpoints “in contravention of its guidelines for multinational enterprises – a set of Government-backed recommendations for “responsible business conduct” overseas.”[vii] In addition, G4S is being actively opposed by civil society groups around the world for its role in controversial deportation and imprisonment regimes, abuse of workers rights, and violations of universal human rights standards, which have led to the deaths of prisoners in its custody[viii] [ix]

To award a contract to G4S, would be incongruent with the principled position that Ireland has taken in relation to human rights in Israel/Palestine and would serve to seriously undermine the integrity of that position.










Palestinian students call for Barclays boycott over Elbit investment

Thu, 09/10/2014 - 2:50pm

The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI), a group of Palestinian students in Gaza dedicated to the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign of Israel and the global justice movement for Palestinian justice and liberty, respectfully call on students around the world to stop banking with Barclays until Barclays divests from and ceases trading in shares in Elbit Systems, the major Israeli military company and drone manufacturer.

As Palestinians we suffer immeasurably from drone attacks. In 2012 and 2013, drones have killed more of us in Gaza than any other aircraft. As Palestinian Human Rights organisation Al-Mezan point out, drones are so deadly because “they are in the sky all the time, and they (the Israeli air force) don’t have to plan the attack properly beforehand.” Al Mezan found that, “When Israeli forces started to use drones, the number of people killed increased.”

Ayah Bashir, a Gaza-based BDS activist, said: “during the latest Israeli massacre in Gaza, we knew of the ground invasion even before the formal announcement. We heard the sounds of the drones getting louder in a crazy way, as if they were on steroids. In fact, their sound and volume became an indicator for us as to what is coming. Their buzzing sounds were piercing our ears creating cancers in our heads. They were hovering day and night without stopping and we wished they would cease for minutes so that we could sleep. It was funny that my sister and I tried helplessly using earplugs that never helped. At night and when Gaza sank into darkness without electricity, they were both the source of light illuminating the sky and death. They were in such incredibly large numbers that we used to joke saying that Israel is ordering one drone for each person in Gaza.”

“I used to contemplate these drones during the days of the attack. Sometimes, when I can’t stand being trapped inside the house, I would go to the roof and watch them while my father would demand that I come down because they always target us recalling the story of the three children from the Shuhaibar family in the Sabra neighbourhood of Gaza City who were killed while they were just playing on their roof.”

“I often dwell on the persisting and disturbing memories of the drones and think of what an airplane represents in any other place. There, they are a means of transport that facilitate people’s lives. Here, in Gaza, they are a constant source of danger as they may kill you if they identify you as a threat, so much easier and quicker than you could ever imagine.”

Despite Elbit drones being used to commit war crimes in Gaza, Barclays bank is currently the listed as the owner of 50,217 shares in Elbit worth more than $3m.

Barclays has tried to absolve itself of any responsibility by saying its shares in Elbit are held on behalf of clients and to “hedge exposure”. Yet Barclays is profiting from holding shares in Elbit on behalf of its clients and the practise of “hedging” is a form of financial investment. By trading and holding shares in Elbit Systems, Barclays is deeply complicit in the war crimes carried out in Gaza using Elbit’s equipment.

Since Barclays refuse to end this unethical practice investing and dealing in shares in Elbit despite the fact that their drones kill us, our children, our parents, our brothers, sisters and friends, we ask for students to close their student Barclays account and tell Barclays why.

We know that boycotts by students are very effective. During the South African apartheid era, Barclays owned a South African subsidiary bank that made loans to the apartheid government and purchased millions in South African defence bonds. In solidarity with those being oppressed, British students closed their Barclays student accounts and encouraged others to do so. This caused Barclays share of the student market to drop from 27% to 15%. Encouraged by the students’ action, local councils, teachers associations and charities followed suit until Barclays permanently closed its South African subsidiary, having lost millions of pounds in closed bank accounts.

We welcome the decision by the UK National Union of Students to adopt BDS and the wave of divestment campaigns that has swept across North America in the past year.

We are certain that a similar campaign by student activists to switch bank accounts away from Barclays will pressure Barclays to stop investing and trading in Elbit Systems.

Signed by:

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
Gaza BDS Working Group
One Democratic State Group
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine

Why is the United Nations doing business with G4S, notorious prison supplier?

Sun, 05/10/2014 - 3:39pm

An Open Letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:

In early September, I accompanied an Iraqi friend to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Amman, Jordan to help register him officially as a refugee. It was a bittersweet day: my friend had reached safety, but he was now registering as a stateless person. I trusted in the United Nations, particularly because of its solid stance against the occupation of Palestine and other human rights abuses, to protect the basic rights of my friend, a journalist, and his family: his young wife and their two delightful children.

Then I noticed something strange: there was a G4S logo on the gate attendant’s shirt. Because of my research on G4S for Friends of Sabeel—North America, I went on alert. I counted still more of the logos on the security cameras. With amazement, I began to realize that G4S was not only offering security for the United Nations office– G4S was also offering an usher-like service, moving people through lines, asking them to show IDs, and operating the entire interface between the UNHCR and the outside world.

G4S guards in Amman, Jordan at UNHCR location

Later, when I was walking to my home in another neighborhood of Amman, I saw two G4S security guards chatting in front of a nondescript building.

“What is this building?” I asked the guards. “UNDP” was the reply–the United Nations Development Program.

I soon asked a friend working in the United Nations what was going on, and was told that G4S does security at the Syrian refugee camps in Zaatari and Asraq, in Jordan, as well.

I’m shocked that the United Nations has contracts(pdf)with G4S services.

For those who don’t know, G4S is a British-based multinational security company notorious for supplying Israeli prisons with services and equipment, most notably prisons like Ofer that hold Palestinian children under military detention, often without charge and for lengthy periods.

It is a major contradiction– and frankly and embarrassment– that the United Nations, with its solid stance against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the generally commendable work the UN does, would contract with a company participating in violating the very protections the UN offers all people.

The terror and abuse suffered by Palestinian children in Israeli prisons has been well documented (pdf) by numerous organizations working for their protection. They do not receive the same rights as Israeli children. They may be held in solitary confinement, kicked, punched, stripped naked and forced to sign “confessions” for throwing stones at armored vehicles that are invading the children’s own land. They may be held without charge for long periods. They are political prisoners trained at a young age to fear the occupying power and to remain cowed by it.

Recently, G4S itself announced that it will end its Israeli prison contracts, mainly due to pressure from human rights groups.

But promises by multinational corporations are often empty ones. More importantly, the United Nations has a major contract with G4S now, this very moment. And now, this very moment, G4S also has a contract with Israel that makes it complicit in human rights violations against Palestinian children and their parents.

In order to sustain its reputation and moral authority, it is urgent that the United Nations cooperate with the international human rights movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestine by agreeing not to renew any contracts with G4S.  Now, this very moment.

European investors continue to divest from Israeli apartheid

Fri, 03/10/2014 - 3:42pm

First the good news: the Palestinian-led campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel has made considerable progress.

Earlier this year, the Dutch pension fund PGGM announced that it had excluded five Israeli banks from its investment portfolio because they were financing Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank. Soon afterwards, it was reported that the Copenhagen-based Danske Bank had taken similar action against Hapoalim, a leading Israeli bank.

Other victories have received less publicity.

The Swedish fund KPA Pension, for example, has published an exclusion list on its website featuring a number of Israeli banks and telecommunications firms, the weapons manufacturer Elbit and Alstom, a French corporation that has been involved in building a light rail system linking up Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.

KPA manages the pensions of more than a million people working in local government.

Sweden’s state pension fund AP7, meanwhile, has excluded the technology giant Hewlett-Packard because of its provision of surveillance technology to Israel, as well as Cemex, a Mexican company which has been quarrying in the West Bank in violation of international law.

Enabling war crimes

AP7 is not as clean as it would have us believe, however.

In August, the Stockholm daily Svenska Dagbladet complained that AP7 is continuing to invest in three Israeli banks. According to the paper, this was not compatible with the views of most Swedes, who wanted pension funds to respect ethical principles.

Similarly, the third largest Dutch pension fund ABP has a €51 million ($64 million) stake in three Israel banks: Leumi, Hapoalim and Mizrahi-Tefahot. All three of these banks finance settlements in the West Bank.

The construction of Israeli settlements breaches the Fourth Geneva Convention and amounts to war crimes.

ABP is under pressure to ditch these enablers of war crimes. Around 1.8 million people have signed a petition calling on it to do so.

Desmond Tutu, the South African archbishop, has written to ABP’s board contending that investing in Israeli institutions that lend to repressive and illegal projects “helps perpetuate the cycle of violence.”

“Respect the UN”

ABP could follow the example set by another Dutch pension fund, BPL. A listpublished by BPL for 2013 states that it has excluded the three aforementioned Israeli banks, along with Alstom and Veolia (the major player in the East Jerusalem tramway).

Gerard Roest, BPL’s chairman, told me that the decisions to exclude these firms were taken because the fund is guided by international standards on human rights. “The UN is a kind of world government and we should respect its decisions,” he said.

A UN fact finding mission on the Israeli occupation stated last year: “A number of banks provide mortgage loans for home buyers and special loans for building projects in settlements. They also provide financial services to businesses in settlements and, in some cases, are physically present there.”

Richard Falk, a former UN special rapporteur for the West Bank and Gaza, has warnedthat “financial institutions and real estate companies may be held criminally accountable for their involvement with illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.”

Pension funds that keep on investing in Israel can be sure that they will come under pressure from people of conscience throughout the world. Support for war crimes will result in damage to their reputations.

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