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The Palestinian BDS National Committee website
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Tell the UN: Don’t reward Israel for Gaza massacre

Tue, 25/11/2014 - 10:07am

One moment please, redirecting you now to http://www.bdsmovement.net/dont-reward-israel

Saturday November 29th – UK Stop Arming Israel day of action

Fri, 21/11/2014 - 4:25pm

#StopArmingIsrael

Find out details of an action near you here.

We are calling for action on Saturday November 29, the UN day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, to pressure the UK government and British companies to end all relationships with Israeli arms companies and to end all forms of military cooperation with Israel.

During July and August 2014, 2,150 Palestinians were killed as Israel carried out another massacre in the besieged Gaza strip. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed and mosques, market places, UN relief compounds and schools were deliberately targeted. There was no safe place for the 1.7 million people in Gaza to take shelter from the Israeli bombardment.

This massacre was carried out with the support of weapons exported from the UK and by companies in which UK companies are invested.

In 2011 a group of grassroots Palestinian groups called for a two-way military embargo on Israel.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee wrote at the time: “A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It would form a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region and would constitute an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law.”

During the summer, hundreds of thousands of people marched to demand a military embargo on Israel and occupations were held at the the offices of UK government departments and companies with links to the arms trade. These grassroots actions contributed to the UK government announcing that it was considering suspending 12 licenses for arms exports to Israel.

Yet the UK government has so far failed to take any action to curb the arms trade with Israel, and many UK companies continue to support and profit from Israeli militarism.

Join us in a UK wide day of action to keep the pressure on the UK government and to expose the complicity of the companies that help Israel to commit its massacres.

Call to Action

We are calling on people to take action on the 29th November, including in the following ways:

– The UK approves military export licenses to Israel and has purchased military equipment from Israeli companies. Take action to pressure the government to impose a two-way arms embargo on Israel. Lobby your MP, take action to pressure a government department or minister or send a template letter to your MP by clicking here.

– Take action against branches of arms companies which supply military equipment to Israel. A list of companies in the UK which have made applications to export military equipment to Israel can be found here. To find out whether any of these companies are operating in your area enter your postcode into Campaign
Against the Arms Trade’s interactive map here.

– Take action against Barclays Bank, shareholder in Elbit Systems. Elbit are Israel’s largest arms company and the manufacturer of the Hermes drone, used by the Israeli military to attack Palestinians in Gaza. Israeli unpiloted planes, known as drones, carried out over 800 major strikes during Israel’s attacks this Summer. Barclays is the named shareholder of $3m worth of shares in Elbit.

Campaign Against the Arms Trade
Corporate Watch
Liverpool Friends of Palestine
Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign
London Palestine Action
Leeds BDS
Manchester Palestine Action
Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods
IJAN UK
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Boycott Israel Network
Smash EDO
Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity
Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Add the endorsement of your group or ask for more info by mailing StopArmingIsraelUK@gmail.com

EU must cease “material support” for Israel’s crimes, say leading trade unions

Thu, 20/11/2014 - 12:25pm

More than 300 political parties, trade unions and campaign groups have called for the suspension of a key agreement between Israel and the European Union.

The appeal urges the EU to freeze the “association agreement” with Israel. That deal, which entered into force in 2000, facilitates largely unrestricted trade between the EU and Israel and allows Israel to participate in a wide range of the Union’s programs.

The appeal, delivered to the new EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, is one of the most widely endorsed statements by European organizations on Palestine to date.

Signatories to the statement come from 19 different European countries. They include Podemos, the leftist party currently leading the polls in Spain, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and other major trade union bodies from Spain, Denmark, France and Belgium.

Major anti-poverty groups, including the CNCD/11.11.11. coalition and Broederlijk Delen in Belgium, Trócaire in Ireland and War on Want in the UK endorsed the statement.

Other signatories include Parti de Gauche and Parti Communiste from France, Attac (a group critical of capitalist economics) in France and Germany and the anti-war organization Pax Christi Germany.

A simple website has been set up at freepalestine.eu, through which people can contact members of the European parliament (MEPs), urging them to read the statement and support its demands.

“Through the continued existence of the EU-Israel association agreement and the strengthening of the bilateral relations, the European Union and its member states are sending Israel the message that it does not have to abide by international law,” the statement explains.

Condemning Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians during its recent attack on Gaza, the statement says that the failure of the EU to hold Israel accountable for its recent war crimes “contributes to the climate of impunity and lack of accountability” and sends Israel “the message that it does not have to abide by international law.”

The statement also condemns the “material support” that the EU affords to Israel’s crimes.

The EU has been repeatedly criticized for failing to take tougher action against economic links with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and for allowing Israeli military companies to receive EU research funding.

Growing frustration

In a press release, Aneta Jerska from the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) argues that the breadth of support for the appeal showed that the mood in Europe was changing.

“The huge number of mainstream organizations that are calling for the suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement reflects the growing frustration across Europe with the failure of European governments to respond to Israel’s repeated massacres and violations of international law.”

“The EU has long argued that its close relations with Israel put it in strong position to engage in dialogue with Israel regarding its oppression of Palestinians, but Israel’s brutal massacre of Gaza shows that this dialogue has failed. It is time for the EU to take action that will pressure Israel to comply with international law,” she adds.

Double standard

As well as launching an e-platform for contacting MEPs, the ECCP has also published a fact sheet setting out how the EU-Israel association agreement facilitates Israel’s crimes.

The fact sheet contrasts the EU’s swift action against Russia and other countries it believes to have acted illegally with its active support for Israel:

Article 2 of the association agreement states that: “Relations between the parties… shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this agreement.”

The continued application of the EU-Israel association agreement despite Israel’s clear violation of the Article 2 clause sends a message to Israel that its massacres of Palestinians will be tolerated and will not result in any meaningful impact on its close relations with the EU. This creates a climate of impunity.

The EU suspended its association agreement with Sri Lanka in 2010 and has applied restrictive measures on Russia with regards to its annexation of Ukrainian territory and a host of other states judged to have violated human rights and international law in recent years.

The failure to apply similar measures to Israel is a double standard that amounts to support for Israel’s continued violations of international law.

Palestinian civil society organizations recently wrote to the EU External Action Service to explain that this double standard “sends a clear message to Israel that its massacres of Palestinians will be tolerated and will not result in any meaningful impact on its intimate relations with the EU.”

The fact sheet also sets out how EU policy supports the continued expansion of illegal Israeil settlements and helps Israeli military companies to further develop drone technology for use against Palestinian civilians.

Time for action

EU governments and institutions made some of their strongest criticisms yet of Israel in the wake of its recent massacre of Gaza, and much has been made of declarations of support for Palestinian statehood by the Swedish government and the UK parliament.

The French parliament will vote on a resolution on Palestinian statehood later this month.

Yet for all their bluster, the EU and its governments are failing to hold Israel to account, or even ending their active support for Israeli violations of international law.

Palestinian organizations recently wrote to the European External Action Service — effectively the Union’s foreign ministry — to demand the suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement, arguing that “Israel’s war crimes and its sabotage of every effort to reach a just peace based on UN resolutions must lead to effective and substantial, not just cosmetic, consequences.”

Bold action by MEPs in support of the demand to suspend the association agreement would be a useful start.

Costly pro-Israel PR campaign fails to stop UC Los Angles divestment

Wed, 19/11/2014 - 11:45am

On Tuesday night, the University of California at Los Angeles became the sixth of nine undergraduate campuses in the UC system within the last two years to pass a resolution calling for divestment from firms that profit from the Israeli occupation.

UCLA’s Students for Justice in Palestine were joined by dozens of allied student groups calling for divestment. (Image courtesy of SJP at UCLA)

The resolution was passed despite expensive efforts by anti-Palestinian groups to thwart such a victory.

In a landslide victory — with eight student senators voting in favor, two voting against and two abstaining — UCLA’s resolutionformally calls on the University of California to “withdraw investments in securities, endowments, mutual funds, and other monetary instruments with holdings” in eleven US-based companies linked to the occupation.

More than thirty student groups representing a wide spectrum of causes supported the divestment resolution.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UCLA stated in a press release following the vote that members of the UCLA student council “from a variety of political affiliations voted in favor of the resolution.”

SJP at UCLA adds that “Before the vote, council members expressed their admiration and respect for the coalition building, education, and outreach by SJP-UCLA during our campaign.”

In October 2013, UCLA’s undergraduate student body voted down a resolution that would have threatened the ability of students to pursue divestment from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation.

Failure of PR firm

As support for Palestinian rights and the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel becomes more mainstream across US campuses, anti-Palestinian groups are scrambling to develop expensive strategies to combat divestment initiatives and shut down educational events on Palestine.

Last month, Alex Kane reported in Mondoweiss that UCLA’s Hillel chapter hired an outside public relations firm to fight BDS campaigns on the UCLA campus.

Working from a series of leaked emails, Kane reported that PR firm 30 Point — which has close ties to right-wing Israel advocacy organizations in Washington — advised Hillel to “minimize coverage” of BDS campaigns.

UCLA Hillel’s Rabbi Aaron Lerner told a 30 Point staffer that Hillel would work to “isolate” SJP on campus, and attempt to paint the group as “unrepresentative, a groups [sic] of isolated graduate students, part of Nationwide Agenda [sic] that has nothing to do with Student Life at UCLA and is an issue which our student government shouldn’t even be considering.”

In addition, it was revealed over the summer that a wealthy anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic real estate agent in the Los Angeles area, Adam Milstein, donated to a UCLA political party ostensibly to cultivate pro-Israel interests in the student government. The donations were reportedly funneled through UCLA’s Hillel chapter and sparked a UC system-wide investigation by a student government committee.

An Israel-aligned UCLA student who received Milstein’s donations, Avi Oved, was confirmed in July as a UC student regent representative over the objections of students.

Intimidation and threats

Student Palestine solidarity organizers at UCLA have been under attack not only by on-campus Israel-aligned organizations such as Hillel, but from the University of California and even the Los Angeles political legislature as well.

Earlier this year, UCLA students passed a non-binding ethics pledge — which asks candidates of the student government not to participate in all-expense-paid trips from outside political organizations with histories of discrimination and promotion of bigotry, such as the Israel lobby group AIPAC — and were immediately condemned by the Los Angeles City Council which accused the statement of being “a tactic of intimidation and harassment.” The city council recommended that students who sign the ethics pledge be turned over to law enforcement and threatened with other legal consequences.

The ethics pledge followed revelations that a UCLA student government representative, Sunny Singh, went on an all-expense-paid junket to Israel in 2013, sponsored and organized by the anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic group the Anti-Defamation League(ADL).

Singh became an outspoken opponent of campus divestment efforts, and in February of this year, helped vote down an initial divestment resolution introduced by SJP and a myriad of other student groups.

Gene Block, UCLA’s chancellor, condemned the ethics pledge and stated that students behind it were embracing “hostility” and had “sought to delegitimize educational trips.”

In September, The Electronic Intifada reported that the ADL is urging a renewed crackdown on Palestine solidarity activism on US campuses, in line with other anti-Palestinian groups who regularly threaten university administrations with legal actionand encourage administrative punishment of SJP groups.

“Overcoming the chilling effect”

Liz Jackson of Palestine Solidarity Legal Support told The Electronic Intifada by email today that UCLA’s divestment victory is a testament to the determination and focus of the student activists themselves — especially as university administrations and outside pressure groups expand their efforts to chill political debate and shut down Palestine activism.

“Look at how they campaigned for divestment and challenged the role of the Israel lobby on campus, and in return they were threatened with law enforcement, called harassers and bullies, targeted by the Islamophobia industry and investigated and condemned by the highest level of the UC,” Jackson said.

“And how did they handle all of that? They kept their focus on Palestinian freedom and honest solidarity, and they brought the student body along with them to understand how the campus is complicit in Palestinian suffering,” she added. “And then they passed divestment — in addition to fighting off an LA City Council resolution to have them publicly declared bullies and referred to law enforcement. This is is how you overcome the chilling effect.”

The list of companies targeted for divestment in the UCLA resolution include Boeing, Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, Cemex, General Dynamics, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and United Technologies. The entire resolution can be read here.

University of Exeter students vote to boycott Israeli settlement products in a landslide

Sat, 01/11/2014 - 11:56am

Students at the University of Exeter have voted overwhelmingly in support of a boycott of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements. The referendum, which garnered 86% approval, generated the largest voter turnout in the history of the university.

Following Israel’s most recent attack on Gaza, a 50-day assault in which over 2,000 Palestinians were killed, Exeter Friends of Palestine, a student-led society, proposed a boycott of settlement goods to the Students’ Guild, whose purpose is to “represent the voice of the student body to the University.” The Guild turned the issue over to a student referendum after receiving hundreds of votes in favor of a democratic process for students to voice their position.

“The unprecedented turnout and high percentage of affirmative votes is a clear indication of the student opinion on this issue,” said May Muhtadi, co-President of Exeter Friends of Palestine. “Students are increasingly horrified by the actions of the Israeli government and are demanding accountability.” The campaign also received widespread support from the university’s faculty, including world-renowned historian Ilan Pappe. “I congratulate the group of students that ran the campaign,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”

This referendum follows on the heels of a vote in August by the UK National Union of Students (NUS) to ensure that “[the] NUS does not employ or work with companies identified as facilitating Israel’s military capacity, human rights abuses or illegal settlement activity.”

In increasingly desperate fashion, a vocal minority in opposition to the referendum actively campaigned against the motion, garnering only 13% of the vote. It is the opposition’s messaging, however, that is drawing increased ire from much of the campus community.

“They appropriated the Palestinian flag and purported to know what is best for Palestinians,” said Francesco Amoruso, a postgraduate student at the university. “This colonial mindset must be stopped in its tracks. They need to move aside so that Palestinians can speak for themselves.”

Indeed, campaign material produced by the opposition group featured the Palestinian flag as a background image while insisting their opposition is fueled only by concern for Palestinian workers. Their official statement claimed that the boycott “will do more harm than good for the Palestinian cause, and we should look into other ways to promote the human rights and statehood of the Palestinian people.” In response, Exeter Friends of Palestine have published an open letter to opponents of the boycott, demanding a public apology and issuing a challenge to a public debate on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“In regards to the opposition, they know what is right and what is wrong. They should apologize immediately for the tactics they employed during this campaign and agree to a public debate on the issue,” said Charles Phillips, co-President of Exeter Friends of Palestine. “In the meantime, we will continue with our work to contribute what we can to the quest for justice, equality and self-determination for Palestinians.

 

SodaStream to close illegal settlement factory in response growing boycott campaign

Thu, 30/10/2014 - 5:37pm

- SodaStream to benefit from Israel’s displacement of Palestinians in Naqab
– Retailers and investors dropped SodaStream over BDS pressure

Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists have welcomed the news that SodaStream has announced it is to close its factory in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Adumim following a high profile boycott campaign against the company.

“SodaStream’s announcement today shows that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is increasingly capable of holding corporate criminals to account for their participation in Israeli apartheid and colonialism,” said Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement.

“BDS campaign pressure has forced retailers across Europe and North America to drop SodaStream, and the company’s share price has tumbled in recent months as our movement has caused increasing reputational damage to the SodaStream brand,” she added.

The news of this major success against a company famed for its role in illegal Israeli settlements broke amidst intensifying demonstrations against Israel’s policies of colonisation in Jerusalem.

Grassroots boycott activism saw SodaStream dropped by major retailers across North America and Europe including Macy’s in the US and John Lewis in the UK.

SodaStream was forced to close its flagship store in Brighton in the UK as a result of regular pickets of the store.

Soros Fund Management, the family office of the billionaire investor George Soros, sold its stake in SodaStream following BDS pressure.

SodaStream’s share price fell dramatically in recent months as sales dried up, particularly in North America.

After reaching a high of $64 per share in October 2013, the stock fell to around $20 per share this month. SodaStream has estimated its third quarter revenue will be $125 million, down almost 14 percent from the same period last year.

But Ziadah warned that SodaStream will still remain actively complicit in the displacement of Palestinians in the Naqab and will remain a focus of boycott campaigning.

“Even if this announced closure goes ahead, SodaStream will remain implicated in the displacement of Palestinians. Its new Lehavim factory is close to Rahat, a planned township in the Naqab (Negev) desert, where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcefully transferred against their will. Sodastream, as a beneficiary of this plan, is complicit with this violation of human rights,” she said.

SodaStream’s participation in Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians gained international notoriety when A-list celebrity Scarlett Johansson signed up to be a brand ambassador for the company. Following an international campaign urging Oxfam end its relationship with Johansson for endorsing SodaStream, the actor decided to quit Oxfam.

SodaStream has also come under fire for its treatment of Palestinian workers in its West Bank factory, as Ziadah explains:

“Any suggestion that SodaStream is employing Palestinians in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land out of the kindness of its heart is ludicrous.”

“Palestinian workers are paid far less than their Israeli counterparts and SodaStream recently fired 60 Palestinians following a dispute over food for the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Workers have previously said they are treated ‘like slaves’”.

“Palestinians are forced to work inside settlements in sub-standard conditions because of Israel’s deliberate destruction of the Palestinian economy. There’s an urgent need for the creation of decent and dignified jobs within the Palestinian economy.”

SodaStream have said all workers will be offered jobs at its new plant, although Israel’s apartheid wall and severe restrictions on movement will make the commute to the new plant difficult for its Palestinian workers.

All of the main Palestinian trade unions have called for boycott and are members of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement and helped to initiate the campaign against SodaStream.

The BNC quotes included in this release can be found in the following coverage of this story:

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/world/middleeast/sodastream-to-close-factory-in-west-bank.html?_r=0

Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/29/sodastream-move-factory-west-bank-israel-slash-forecast

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2813830/SodaStream-factory-West-Bank-Scarlett-Johansson-hot-water-close-operations-Israel-company-says.html

Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2014-10-29/sodastream-to-close-factory-at-center-of-israelpalestinian-spat

International Business Times: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/israel-bds-movement-scores-victory-sodastream-close-controversial-factory-west-bank-settlement-1472320

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