Showing posts with label solidarity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label solidarity. Show all posts

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mahmoud Sarsak to be Freed After Months of Hunger Strike and Global Solidarity

According to his attorney, Palestinian soccer star Mahmoud Sarsak will be released from Israeli detention on July 10th after a three month hunger strike. Mahmoud, 25, has been held by Israel without charge or trial since his abduction by Israeli forces in 2009. He began his hunger strike on March 19th in protest of his imprisonment, refusing any nourishment until last week when, near death, he accepted milk while Israeli authorities reconsidered his demands.

Despite a dearth of mainstream media attention, Sarsak's cause had begun to gain support around the globe. Frederic Kenoute, Eric Cantona, and two dozen other European sports figures expressed support for Sarsak. FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFpro, the international association of football players, also expressed solidarity. Meanwhile, soccer fans at the Scotland-Israel Euro 2013 women’s qualifier chanted "Free Mahmoud Sarsak" and "Free Palestine" while French activists protested at a supermarket selling Israeli goods in Bordeaux.  Recently, according to Haaretz, an Israeli reservist imprisoned for refusing to partake in the occupation of Palestine began his own hunger strike "in solidarity [with the Palestinians], and in order to raise awareness on the issue of administrative detention."

Scottish soccer fans stand in solidarity with Mahmoud Sarsak


Despite the news of Sarsak's release, Ali Abuminah of the Electronic Intifada urges caution in the face of this victory.  Israel has been slow to implement the terms which ended a similar hunger strike among Palestinian prisoners in May.  Further, there is no word on Akram Rikhawi, now 68 days into his own hunger strike in Israeli detention. 


Israel to free footballer Mahmoud Sarsak after epic 3-month hunger strike, lawyer says
Read more here

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Palestinian Academics Condemn Cornell University's Collaboration with Technion

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI) of Israel has issued a statement condemning Cornell University's collaboration with Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Cornell and Technion are building a multi-billion dollar science and technology campus together on Roosevelt Island in New York. Technion, like other Israeli academic institutions, is complicit in Israel's continuing occupation and violations of Palestinian human rights and international law. Joining US Campaign member groups US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) and Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), PACBI is urging residents of New York, US civil society, and people of conscience to mobilize against the Cornell-Technion partnership. Sign and share Cornell SJP's petition opposing Cornell's shameful collaboration with Technion and check out USACBI's resources page on the Cornell-Technion partnership! 


PACBI | March 4, 2012
An Appeal for Action: End Cornell University Collaboration with Technion

The Palestinian academic community was deeply disturbed by the recently revealed plan of collaboration between Cornell University and Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.  The two institutions have won a multi-billion-dollar competition held by the City of New York to establish “a 2 million square foot engineering and applied sciences university campus” on Roosevelt Island, NY [1].  Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Cornell University have petitioned the City of New York and Cornell University to end this collaboration with an Israeli institution that is "directly implicated in war crimes [2]."  Similarly, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) has launched an appeal calling on students and faculty to put pressure on their university to withdraw from this troubling partnership [3].
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) would like to join these groups in deploring the collaboration between US higher institutions of learning and Israeli Academic institutions complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and the rights of Palestinians.  In view of our focus this year on academic boycott, we call on US civil society to bring the injustices of this venture to light.  In the first instance, all New York City residents should, rightfully, be outraged that their tax dollars are being apportioned in the service of such an endeavor, and we appeal to them to pressure the City of New York administration to end this collaboration.  Moreover, we ask students, staff, and faculty at institutions around the country, including student groups such as SJP, as well as workers, labor unions, and other civil society organizations in New York City, to mobilize against the administration of Cornell University to end its partnership with Technion.  More importantly, we call on people of conscience to mobilize on the issue of the Cornell-Technion partnership, and academic boycott more broadly, through street protests, educational venues, media presence and other such mobilizations.
Technion Complicity
Technion's record of complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights is too long to reproduce here, but here are some highlights:
-    It has a partnership with Elbit Systems, which is one of Israel’s largest private weapons manufacturers.  Elbit manufactured the drones that Israel used in its crimes against civilians in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008-09. This partnership has played a leading role not only in the construction and surveillance of the apartheid wall in Palestine, but also along the U.S.-Mexico border through its subsidiary, Kollsman.

-    Technion trains its engineering students to work with companies dealing “directly in the development of complex weapons in the process of researching their academic theses” [4].  In one example with Elbit Systems, the reward has been the funding of research grants in upwards of half a million dollars to Technion’s students conducting research [5].

-    One of the institute’s most notorious projects resulted in the development of a remote-control function on the Caterpillar’s 'D9’ bulldozer “used by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian houses and farms and the development of a method for detecting underground tunnels, specifically developed in order to assist the Israeli army in its continued siege on the Gaza Strip” [6]

-    Technion has deep relations with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, one of Israel’s largest government-sponsored weapons manufacturers famous for its “advanced hybrid armor protection system” used in Israel’s Merkava tanks [7]. The institute has developed an “MBA program tailored specifically for Rafael managers” which further solidifies its relationship between academia and Israel’s military-industrial complex [8].

-    Technion rewards its students who perform their compulsory military service.  It also granted Israeli army reservists who participated in the Israeli massacre of Gaza in 2008-2009 “academic benefits in addition to the usual benefits for reservists” [9].
Why Academic Boycott?
In 2004, Palestinian civil society called for an academic boycott in the spirit of the South African anti-apartheid movement.  In our statement, we have maintained that a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is necessary due to the complicity of these institutions in the system of oppression that has denied Palestinians their basic rights guaranteed by international law.


In our 2004 call we stated that the academic boycott
is in line with the authoritative call by the Palestinian Council for Higher Education (CHE) for "non-cooperation in the scientific and technical fields between Palestinian and Israeli universities." Academic institutions in particular are part of the ideological and institutional scaffolding of the Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine, and as such are deeply implicated in maintaining the structures of domination and oppression over the Palestinian people. Since its founding, the Israeli academy has cast its lot with the hegemonic political-military establishment in Israel, and notwithstanding the efforts of a handful of principled academics, is deeply implicated in supporting and perpetuating the status quo. [10]
While it is common to think of universities as ivory towers separate from society, this view ignores the deep roots of the academy in society, and in shaping our knowledge of the world.  Universities influence political power, shape future generations, and structure the moral and ideological underpinnings of our societies.  In the case of Israel, the academy gives the state a veneer of being liberal, tolerant, and just.  This is an image that serves to combat and whitewash the state’s ongoing occupation, colonialism and apartheid.
Why Israeli Institutions?
In response to a call for academic boycott of Israel, one might respond that US academic institutions collaborate with other academic institutions around the world, as well as with their own government that is involved in human rights abuses, war and occupation.  This argument is often used as a red herring to distract activists, and as an attempt to delegitimize the movement.  However, it is critical for us to recognize this as a legitimate concern when it comes from truly conscientious activists and observers, and from people who are invested in advancing ethical forms of resistance against all kinds of oppression.
The above argument can be broken into three parts.  First, we must recognize the voice of Palestinians who suffer under Israel’s intricate multi-tiered system of oppression.  In this sense, an important element is the call by an overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society for an international boycott of Israel that is embodied in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  In the 70s and 80s, no ethically minded person would have screamed that the anti-apartheid movement was hypocritical for asking for the boycott of South Africa and not, say, Israel, the U.S. or the Soviet Union.  Thus, it rings hollow and suspicious when people question Palestinians and international solidarity activists for applying the boycott to Israel but not other places.  The BDS movement is explicit in its solidarity with oppressed people around the world fighting against all forms of oppression.  It similarly calls on others to stand with Palestinians in their time of resistance.
Second, we are keenly aware that US academic institutions partner with other foreign academic institutions.  To the extent that these foreign institutions are complicit in their governments’ abuses of international law and human rights, in ways similar to the complicity of Israeli academic institutions, then we also condemn such partnerships.  We doubt, however, that there are, as of yet, any joint ventures within US borders between Saudi Arabian academic institutions, for example, and a US institution.  It is no coincidence that Israeli institutions enjoy greater access to US academic networks, including the funding that these networks enable.  This is what makes the tactic of boycott crucial, effective, and urgent when applied to Israel.  We also stress again that Israel’s atrocious violations of international law remain violations even if there are other countries that commit the same.
This leads to our third argument, where it should not be denied that academic institutions in the US collaborate with their own government, arguably the world's leading and most violent violator of human rights, if we take Iraq and Afghanistan as case studies.  We believe these partnerships should end, and a campaign against Cornell-Technion should strive to raise awareness on US academic complicity, inviting various sectors of local communities to share their experiences and build mutual solidarities.  However, this should not prevent a serious and legitimate call to boycott collaborations with Israeli institutions.  The herculean task of disengaging US academia from the US military industrial complex should not deter or demobilize activists from a call to boycott Israel and its complicit institutions.  Did any morally conscientious person call on US academia to boycott its government before boycotting the apartheid South African regime?  Could American university administrations, morally speaking, argue against the boycott of apartheid South Africa, simply because their own institutions were developing technology for the US government?  We hardly think so.  We cannot defer the rights of people around the world as we wait for the US superpower to clean its house.  However, we must also not hold back from our collective struggles against the abuses of the US government.
In this way, we, at PACBI, along with our coalition partners in Palestinian civil society wish to express our solidarity with oppressed segments of US civil society, and ask that you hear our call and put pressure on your academic institutions and city councils to boycott apartheid Israel.  This is what we ask for in our struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Notes:
[1] http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/new-york-host-israels-top-drone-lab
[2] http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/in-opposition-to-cornell-universitys/
[3] http://www.usacbi.org/2011/12/open-letter-to-cornell-university-dont-collaborate-with-apartheid/
[4] Uri Yacobi Keller, The Economy of the Occupation: A Socioeconomic Bulletin. (Jerusalem: Alternative Information Center, 2009), 10. http://usacbi.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/economy_of_the_occupation_23-24.pdf.
[5] ibid, 10-11
[6] ibid, 9
[7] “Structures of Oppression: Why McGill and Concordia Universities Must Sever their Links with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology,” 4. http://www.tadamon.ca/wp-content/uploads/Technion-English.pdf
[8] Ibid., 3-4
[9] Keller, 12-13 (see link above)
[10] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1108

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

US Campaign Thanks Cassandra Wilson for Supporting Cultural Boycott

In late February, US jazz singer Cassandra Wilson canceled a schedule performance at the Holon International Women's Festival in Israel. Wilson, a world-renowned vocalist, canceled her performance after appeals from boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists encouraging her to respect the Palestinian call for BDS. According to an article at Electronic Intifada citing the Hebrew Israeli daily Ynet, the Grammy award winning Wilson announced, "as a human rights activist, I identify with the cultural boycott of Israel." The article also reports that concert promoters are considering legal action her. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation released the following letter of thanks and appreciation to Wilson.


Dear Cassandra Wilson,

We are a diverse coalition of more than 380 organizations across the United States working to change U.S. policy and end U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid. We are writing to applaud you for your courageous decision not to play for the Holon International Women's Festival. Thank you for your statement in support of the cultural boycott of Israel as called for by Palestinian civil society. 

Although the government-funded Holon festival claimed to empower women, since Palestinian women were excluded, this was selective empowerment. Your brave decision to refrain from performing in Israel showed respect and deep compassion for Palestinian women and your action is an inspiration for other women to stand up against injustice. We thank you for enduring the intense pressure to perform for the Holon festival. You showed great strength by seeking information about the BDS campaign and deciding to cancel so close to your scheduled performance. 

It is not uncommon for an artist who takes such a stand to be on the receiving end of false accusations, threats, and unfounded criticism by apologists for the Israeli crimes. In solidarity, we hope that you remain strong in the face of such pressure and recognise there is enormous support for you and respect for your decision among those who embrace justice, human rights and freedom. You have joined a growing list of artists of conscience who have refused to play in today’s Sun City and we all express our gratitude to you.

Sincerely, 

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rally Tomorrow to Support Olympia Food Co-op!


Responding to the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, the Olympia Food Co-op voted in July 2010 to boycott Israeli products until Israel ends the occupation, respects Palestinian human rights, and complies with international law. Pro-Israel forces responded by filing a lawsuit against the Co-op in September of last year. The lawsuit alleges the Co-op's board acted beyond the scope of its authority and committed procedural violations in enacting the boycott.


In November, working with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Co-op fought back by filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that is a form of legal and financial intimidation designed explicitly to silence free speech and penalize political participation. In legal terms, this kind of lawsuit is referred to as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) and Washington state has an anti-SLAPP statute to deter such lawsuits.


A hearing on the Co-op's motion to dismiss the SLAPP suit will take place this Thursday, February 23 at 9:00am at Thurston County Superior Court in Washington State. US Campaign member group the Rachel Corrie Foundation, along with Olympia Food Co-op members, Olympia BDS and others are rallying people to the hearing and will be gathering outside the courthouse before and after to demonstrate support. If you are in the area, please join them in defending for your constitutionally guaranteed right to political participation and fight against those who wish to silence and intimidate the voices of justice.

For those of you unable to join the rally tomorrow, you can sign the statement of solidarity to show your support for the Olympia Food Co-opCCR will be doing live updates and media coverage via its Twitter feed, @theCCR, and will be using the hashtag #RighttoBoycott. Follow them on Twitter and help spread the word!

For more information about the lawsuit, please visit the CCR case page. The CCR has also prepared a very informative fact sheet about the lawsuit and the right to boycott that can be downloaded here.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Two US Delegations Endorse BDS and Call for Action in the US

The Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel has been endorsed by two US delegations recently returned from fact finding missions to occupied Palestine and Israel.

US Campaign member group US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) organized a delegation of five distinguished scholars for a trip to Palestine and Israel in January. The delegation, composed of professors working at US universities, witnessed firsthand how Israel routinely denies the academic freedom of Palestinian scholars and students. According to a press release issued by USACBI, the delegation noted:

… Israel has consistently closed Palestinian universities under security pretexts and restrictions on freedom of movement mean that it is often very difficult for students to attend universities; international and Palestinian scholars living abroad are denied visas for faculty appointments in the occupied territories.  Furthermore, some 80 students from Birzeit University are held in Israeli prisons and detention centers, 10 of whom are currently being held without charge or trial. The delegation also reported that Israel thwarts Palestinian research capacities by restricting imports of equipment necessary for teaching basic science and engineering. It is all but impossible for Gaza students to attend West Bank universities, or for scholars from Ramallah, Gaza City, and East Jerusalem to meet in the same room.

While the primary focus of the trip was on educational discrimination, the delegation also had the opportunity to visit the 5,000 person Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem, as well as hear testimony from Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah who were forcibly evicted from their homes in East Jerusalem by the Israeli military. After witnessing how the "subordination, humiliation, and suspicion" of the occupation regulates the daily lives of Palestinians, as well as numerous violations of Palestinian civil and legal rights, the delegates urged their academic colleagues to support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. In a brief statement included in USACBI's press release, the delegates stated:

We believe that the perpetuation of the international travesty of colonial occupation in a post-colonial world must be brought to an end.  For it ultimately threatens the rights, dignity and security of everyone who believes in self-determination, equal justice and human rights.
Read USACBI's full press release here. 

LGBTIQ Activists Call for an End to US Aid to Israel and Endorse BDS

A diverse group of academics, artists, and cultural workers from the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, interest, and queer) community also traveled to Palestine/Israel in January. Upon their return to the US, the delegation released an open letter and petition emphatically endorsing BDS and calling on the queer community and its allies to "stand in solidarity with queer and other Palestinians and progressive Israelis who are working to end the occupation; oppose the state of Israel's practice of pinkwashing; and support efforts on the part of Palestinians to achieve full self-determination including building an international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement."

In their open letter, the delegates strongly reject Israel's practice of pinkwashing -- using the issue of gay rights to deflect attention away from the daily violations of Palestinian human rights:

Key to Israel's pinkwashing campaign is the manipulative and false labeling of Israeli culture as gay-friendly and Palestinian culture as homophobic. It is our view that comparisons of this sort are both inaccurate - homophobia and transphobia are to be found throughout Palestinian and Israeli society - and that this is beside the point: Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine cannot be somehow justified or excused by its purportedly tolerant treatment of some sectors of its own population. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian queer organizations like Al Qaws and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (PQBDS) whose work continues to impact queer Palestinians and all Palestinians.

… We urge LGBTIQ individuals and communities to resist replicating the practice of pinkwashing that insists on elevating the sexual freedom of Palestinian people over their economic, environmental, social, and psychological freedom. Like the Palestinian activists we met, we view heterosexism and sexism as colonial projects and, therefore, see both as interrelated and interconnected regimes that must end.

As queer activists in the US, they condemn US complicity in maintaining the occupation and call for an end to US aid to Israel and support for the BDS movement in the US:

We name the complicity of the United States in this human rights catastrophe and call on our government to end its participation in an unjust regime that places it and us on the wrong side of peace and justice.

We support efforts on the part of Palestinians to achieve full self-determination, such as building an international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement which calls for the fulfillment of three fundamental demands:

The end of the Occupation and the dismantling of the Wall
  (jidar).
The right of return for displaced Palestinians.
The recognition and restoration of the equal rights of citizenship for Israeli     citizens of Palestinian descent.

We call upon all of our academic and activist colleagues in the US and elsewhere to join us by supporting all Palestinian efforts that center these three demands and by working to end US financial support, at $8.2 million daily, for the Israeli state and its occupation.
Read the open letter in full and sign the petition here 


 Testimonials from the Delegates Published on The Feminist Wire


Darnell L. Moore, who traveled to Palestine as part of the LGBTIQ delegation and is an editorial collective member of The Feminist Wire (TFW), solicited reflections and commentaries from US-based scholars, activists and cultural workers about their experiences in Palestine. Those writings have been collected and published online at TFW Forum on Palestine. Several participants from the USACBI and LGBTIQ delegations contributed moving and thoughtful pieces to the forum, including powerful commentaries from Neferti X.M. Tadiar and Jasbir K. Puar. Tadiar calls upon us to "forge new relations beyond the province of interests and inherited forms of social belonging to which we might have become tethered and, for those of us not already called, to feel the suffering and aspirations of Palestinians as also our own," in  "Why the Question of Palestine is a Feminist Concern." Puar's piece, "The Golden Handcuffs of Gay Rights: How Pinkwashing Distorts Both LGBTIQ and Anti-Occupation Activism," offers insightful analysis of Israel's pinkwashing agenda, homonationalism and the radical impact of Palestinian Queers for BDS (PQBDS) on Palestinian society. She argues that by "foregrounding the Occupation as its primary site of struggle, PQBDS is slowly, strategically and carefully insisting upon and creating systemic and thorough changes in the terms of Palestinian society itself. "










Monday, January 30, 2012

Call for World Social Forum Free Palestine, Nov. 2012 in Brazil

Last week, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) issued an international call for the World Social Forum Free Palestine, scheduled to take place in November 2012 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. In an email message to solidarity groups publicizing the call, the BNC wrote:


This is a unique opportunity, challenge and responsibility for all of us. This potentially game changing forum will bring together the entirety of the international solidarity movement and allow us to show our strength, celebrate our successes and plan for more. We're very excited about the opportunities it presents for the solidarity movement in general and for the BDS movement in particular.

The BNC's call can be read in full below. Please share widely!!!



Call for the World Social Forum Free Palestine, Nov. 2012 in Brazil

Posted on January 19, 2012 by StopTheWall Campaign

Occupied Palestine is part of every free heartbeat in this world and her cause continues to inspire solidarity across the globe.  The World Social Forum Free Palestine is an expression of the human instinct to unite for justice and freedom and an echo of the World Social Forum’s opposition to neo-liberal hegemony, colonialism, and racism through struggles for social, political and economic alternatives to promote justice, equality, and the sovereignty of peoples.
The WSF Free Palestine will be a global encounter of broad-based popular and civil society mobilizations from around the world. It aims to:
1. Show the strength of solidarity with the calls of the Palestinian people and the diversity of initiatives and actions aimed at promoting justice and peace in the region.
2. Create effective actions to ensure Palestinian self-determination, the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the fulfillment of human rights and international law, by:
a)      Ending Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
b)     Ensuring the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
c)      Implementing, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
3. Be a space for discussion, exchange of ideas, strategizing, and planning in order to improve the structure of solidarity.
Exactly sixty-five years after Brazil presided over the UN General Assembly session that agreed upon the partition of Palestine, Brazil will host a different type of global forum: an historic opportunity for people from all over the world to stand up where governments have failed. The world’s people will come together to discuss new visions and effective actions to contribute to justice and peace in the region.
We call on all organizations, movements, networks, and unions across the globe to join the WSF Free Palestine in November 2012 in Porto Alegre. We ask you to join the International Committee for the WSF Free Palestine, we will establish as soon as possible. Participation in this forum will structurally strengthen solidarity with Palestine, promote action to implement Palestinian’s legitimate rights, and hold Israel and its allies accountable to international law.
Together we can raise global solidarity with Palestine to a new level.
Palestinian Preparatory Committee for the WSF Free Palestine 2012
Secretariat members:
· PNGO - Palestinian NGO Network
· Stop the Wall - Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign,
· OPGAI - Occupied Palestinian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative
· Alternatives represented by:
     Alternative Information Center,
     Teacher Creativity Center
· Ittijah
· General Union of Palestinian women
Coordination office:
PNGO - Palestinian NGO Network
Tel: +970 2 2975320/1
Fax: +970 2 2950704
E mail: samahd@pngo.net

SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE... 

Friday, January 20, 2012

London's Natural History Museum Blasted for Collaborating with Ahava


In the summer of 2009, US Campaign coalition member group CODEPINK launched the Stolen Beauty Campaign against Israeli cosmetics manufacturer Ahava Dead Sea Labaratories. Since then, the boycott campaign against Ahava has grown into an international campaign that continues to raise awareness about Ahava's deceitful business practices, which include labeling products manufactured in the occupied West Bank as 'Made in Israel', in violation of international law.

This past Tuesday, prominent intellectuals in Great Britain demanded that the Natural History Museum in London pull out of a research project which involves Ahava. In an open letter to the British newspaper, The Independent, top British filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, along with other leading cultural and academic figures in Great Britain, condemned the museum for "coordinating an activity that breaks international law."

The museum is coordinating a European Union-funded project studying the environmental and health risks of nanoparticles. Avaha is one of several companies and institutions collaborating on the project, however, it is the only one operating in an illegal settlement in occupied territory. In their letter, the 21 signatories conveyed their outrage over the museum's collaboration with Ahava:

Ahava/DSL is based on occupied territory. It extracts, processes and exports Palestinian resources to generate profits that fund an illegal settlement. Israel's settlement project has been held by the International Court of Justice to break international law. Organisations which aid and abet this process may well themselves be found to be in violation. We find it almost inconceivable that a national institution of the status of the Natural History Museum should have put itself in this position.

We call on the museum to take immediate steps to terminate its involvement in Nanoretox and to establish safeguards that protect against any comparable entanglement.

The letter has generated a fair amount of negative publicity for Ahava, including a separate article in The Independent, and featured articles in the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Rueters, YNet News and leading science websites like Nature and Science.

Check out CODEPINK's Stolen Beauty website for more information on how you can get involved in the boycott campaign against Ahava!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Non-Violent Way to Justice

Cindy & Craig Corrie
Cindy Corrie is president of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, which is a member of the US Campaign's nationwide coalition of more than 380 groups.

Emel, a monthly print publication with 100,000 subscribers in more than 60 countries, describes itself as: "The Muslim lifestyle magazine. Emel is for the reader who wishes to combine an ethical outlook to life with evolving ideas and modern lifestyle."

The mother of a U.S. citizen crushed by an Israeli bulldozer recollects her daughter’s passion for justice. 

By Cindy Corrie
Emel Magazine, December 2011 issue

My daughter Rachel Corrie brought me to the Palestinian/Israeli issue. Ours was a family and community that generally thought about the world and its inhabitants in a loving, curious way. We connected, as comfortable Americans do, through following and discussing the news, attending events, and making donations to support those in third world countries—but there was never any intention of sacrifice. In 2003, Rachel travelled to Gaza to join the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a group of Palestinian and international activists who use non-violent, direct-action methods to confront the Israeli occupation. Why did she go? Rachel was motivated by her family and community experiences, by her questions about US foreign policy that arose after 9/11 shattering our nation’s sense of security and self-satisfaction, and simply by whom she was as a human being.

Once in Gaza, Rachel documented when the Israeli military destroyed Palestinian olive orchards, gardens, and greenhouses and harassed Palestinians at checkpoints. She worked with women and children and planned for a sister-city project to connect people in Rafah with those in Olympia, her hometown. Through phone calls and e-mails, she introduced family and friends to life in Occupied Palestine: “I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank shell holes in their walls, and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me —Ali—or point at the posters of him on the walls.”

Rachel stayed with civilian Gazan families whose homes were threatened by widespread military clearing demolitions. On 16th March 2003, while working with seven international activists, she was crushed by a military Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer as she stood to protect a threatened Palestinian home.  The family who owned it watched from inside their garden wall, as the bulldozer approached.

The horror of learning what happened that day is etched in my memory—a searing pain like nothing I had experienced before, and hope never to experience again. The loss is encompassing and forever—and from a parent’s perspective, the price too dear. But there is another cost too much to bear—that of discouraging a child from being all they can be. We are sometimes asked why we did not stop Rachel from going to Gaza. Her father’s response is, “Why weren’t we all there?”

I have connected with families of others lost to the non-violent struggle in Palestine, and to those injured—Palestinians, Israelis and others. Despite the pain, I am struck by their continued conviction about the rightness of the cause, and the methods of resisting. In 2005, Gene Sharp, an expert on non-violent resistance, stated at a Bethlehem conference, “None of this is safe. None of this is easy. But these are the tools for those struggling for liberation and for those of us who work with them.”

With her writings from Gaza, Rachel charted our path: “This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benetar, and have boyfriends and make comics for my co-workers. But I also want this to stop.” In the eight years since Rachel was killed, I have witnessed the injustice in the West Bank and Gaza but, also, the imagination and determination of Palestinian activists—and the resilience of all Palestinians who, despite occupation, act with dignity, and with determination not to be silenced. They continue to ask us to visit, and to stand in solidarity with them in Palestine and back home. Israeli Jewish and Palestinian activists challenge their country’s policies and actions, but tell me they cannot succeed alone. They need the rest of us.

International solidarity can take many forms. We can make the journey to Israel/Palestine in person, through the internet, or by connecting to efforts in our own communities. Whatever the path, we must follow the news, share the stories, be visible, and strategically challenge policies that allow the injustice to continue. Rachel was compelled to live meaningfully. She made the journey to Palestine because (as an American) she felt implicated in Israel’s actions and felt a responsibility to challenge them.

Books of Mahatma Gandhi were on Rachel’s shelves. She knew that suffering and sacrifice in some form is one element of non-violent resistance. She also knew from Gandhi that “a small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” Our actions are cumulative; our numbers are increasing; and our struggle is for our own universal human rights. To achieve and maintain those for everyone, we must continue to stand with the Palestinians.


Cindy Corrie, guest comment writer, is the President of the Rachel Corrie Foundation.

SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Palestinians Hold Third National BDS Conference

Last month, the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank hosted the Third National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Conference. The Conference centered on BDS as a means of nonviolent popular resistance and addressed some key issues currently confronting the movement, both locally and internationally. Below is the Conference Report, published by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.



Report: Third National BDS Conference, Hebron, December 17

Posted January 9th, 2012 by Conference team



On 17 December 2011, Palestinians gathered in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank for the Third National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  (BDS) Conference. The event took place against the backdrop of continuous Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, and a growing resistance against injustice worldwide as demonstrated by the Arab revolutions and the occupy movements.  Just minutes away from the conference venue, 500 Jewish settlers live under escort of the Israeli military in a colonial enclave in the middle of old Hebron, terrorizing local Palestinian residents on a daily basis, with the stated intent of driving them from their homes. Hebron is also an important commercial center in Palestine, and thus was a fitting venue to hold the national BDS conference, after it was held in Nablus and Ramallah in previous years.
The day started early with about 500 Palestinians from all corners of the West Bank, as well as 48 Palestinians representing a diverse sector of civil society including trade unions, student and women groups, academics, cultural workers and NGOs, all uniting under the banner of BDS.
There was also a visible international presence as well as that of Israeli partners who have responded to the 2005 BDS call.  Notable was the absence of representation from Gaza, under an Israeli imposed siege, and refugees outside historic Palestinian, although their contribution to the movement was acknowledged.
The conference was an opportunity to take stock of the movement’s achievements worldwide, and to develop strategies to face the challenges ahead. The BDS movement witnessed impressive growth in 2011. Achievements include the withdrawal of German company Deutsche Bahn from construction of the A1 train line connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv; the forced closure of settlement company Ahava’s London flagship store and the loss of a $10 bn contract by French company Alstom in Saudi Arabia as a result of its role in the construction of the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail in occupied Jerusalem. 2011 was also the year when Israel’s foremost agricultural export company and a major BDS target - Agrexco - went bankrupt thanks in part to a sustained Europe-wide campaign.
The movement has now visibly spread beyond its traditional base of Palestine solidarity groups. The call for a military embargo of Israel received an enthusiastic response in Brazil and South Korea while in Australia, a nationwide debate involving government politicians and national media outlets ensued following the adoption of the movement’s principles by Marrickville Council in Sydney. A number of well-known artists have cancelled their scheduled performances in Israeli venues following appeals from BDS activists. Over a hundred Swiss artists vowed to boycott performances in Israel. Similarly, over 200 Swedish academics pledged to implement an academic boycott of Israel. The campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel (ACBI) has undoubtedly been one of the most visible, and successful campaigns this past year.
Governments and corporations are yet to end complicity with Israel’s policies of occupation, colonization and apartheid, as is clear from Israel’s continued violations of international law. Nevertheless, the costs for Israel are now undeniable, as BDS is proving to be the most effective tool to challenge Israel’s impunity. Governments and corporations can now expect strong and principled opposition from a truly global movement. Israel and its supporters in turn have recognized BDS as a “strategic threat” that could become an “existential threat”, yet unable to mount effective opposition to the movement.
The opening session of the conference covered these exciting developments. Dr. Wael Abu Yousef, representing the Coalition of National and Islamic forces, said that despite internal political divisions between the political parties, BDS is an unshakable point of consensus among them. Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the BDS movement, emphasized that while the movement is inspired by  the South African anti-apartheid struggle and other struggles for national liberation around the world, it is foremost a Palestinian movement, rooted in decades of nonviolent popular resistance to Zionism.
Michael Deas, the BNC coordinator in Europe, and Adam Horowitz, co-editor of popular blog Mondoweiss, spoke in the first panel about developments of the campaign in Europe and the US. There was much interest in the numerous successes the BDS movement has achieved, in addition to an element of surprise about the movement’s wide reach and successes. Questions asked by the audience reflected these sentiments. There was consensus amongst participants that these victories should be widely publicized as to promote awareness amongst Palestinian civil society about the strength and victories of the BDS movement.
The second panel addressed the possibilities for implementing a boycott of Israel locally and in the Arab world. Rania Elias, member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), said Israeli and international actors have been major players promoting Palestinian normalization with Israel, which runs counter to Palestinian aspirations and universal opposition to normalization within Palestinian civil society. The audience voiced their opposition to normalization, and demanded that the Palestinian Authority takes a strong stance to end all forms of normalization, and to hold those involved accountable.
Palestinian economist Ibrahim Shikaki provided a detailed critique of the current state of the Palestinian economy, dangerously developing to become subjugated to Israel in the long-term. He warned against attempts to replace a national resistance discourse with that of economic development.
In his analysis of Israeli dominance of the Palestinian consumer market, Salah Haniyyeh of the Economic Monitor noted that the Palestinian Authority lacks procurement legislation within its own government institutions to favor Palestinian and Arab products over Israeli ones. He also lamented the perception of Israeli products as being superior to Palestinian ones, calling on organized efforts to promote local produce.  Hanniyeh considered shortsighted the idea that the economic boycott of Israel should be halted for the risk it could pose to livelihoods of some families and instead emphasized the need for proactive strategies to protect workers while forwarding the national cause. Omar Assaf, representative of the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS), in turn condemned the existing Oslo framework as a major obstacle for social justice as it served to legitimize Israel’s security aspirations and economic dominance. The establishment in 2011 of PTUC-BDS represents a positive development in the consolidation of the workers’ efforts to isolate Israel, Assaf stated.
The hall awakened during the Q & A session with loud cheers in support of a number of enthusiastic interventions. There were suggestions for the development of a united front against normalization. Some expressed unhappiness about the role of foreign donors in turning Palestinians into consumers instead of promoting true economic independence. The loudest cheers however were reserved for the urgent need to bring the struggle back to the people, BDS being one such avenue, contrasting it to the role of the peace process in removing Palestinian popular agency.
Following lunch, participants split into groups for workshops on aspects of BDS relevant to the local context (students and youth, women’s organizations, civil society institutions, formal labor, and popular committees against the wall and settlements and international work). Each session agreed recommendations that were then presented to the conference at the end. Recommendations varied from strengthening the culture of boycott through awareness raising campaigns to developing mechanisms to actively oppose all levels of normalization.
It was evident throughout the day that there is huge enthusiasm and energy among all those attending to contribute more actively to the global BDS movement, and activate the boycott within their respective organizations and institutions.



SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE...