Showing posts with label victory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label victory. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

UC-Irvine Students Pass Divestment Resolution

On Tuesday, November 13, the Associated Students of University of California-Irvine voted 16-0 to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including from companies that contribute to illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories. The effort was led by the Students for Justice in Palestine at UC-Irvine and targets several companies, including Caterpillar, Cemex, and SodaStream. 

This historic victory is even more impressive considering the case of the Irvine 11 involving students who were arrested back in February 2010 for speaking out in opposition to Israeli policies during a speech delivered by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren on campus. 

The press release and video of the vote are below. Interestingly, the Israeli website Ynet published an article just 9 days ago touting how pro-Israel activity is flourishing on California campuses. "Irvine University in California has become a hotbed of pro-Israel activity, only two years after an anti-Israeli attack on former envoy Michael Oren during a speech on campus," claimed the reporter. (h/t @grinhoyz)

UC Irvine students pass historic legislation urging divestment from human rights abuses in Palestine

(IRVINE, CALIF., 11/13/2012)- In an historic move that could initiate a domino effect across America’s campuses, the Associated Students of UC Irvine voted unanimously to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including from companies that contribute to illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

With 16 votes in favor, 0 abstentions, and 0 opposed, the elected undergraduate student representatives of the University of California Irvine unanimously passed a resolution urging the University to withdraw its investment funds from Caterpillar, General Electric Company, Hewlett Packard, Raytheon, and other companies profiting from human rights violations in the occupied territories. The students also pledged to further examine UC assets for investments in companies that profit from human rights abuses anywhere in the world. 

The resolution was drafted in response to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a means to force it to comply with international law and end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; allow Palestinian refugees their internationally guaranteed right to return to their homes and villages; and grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel. Other divestment successes have occurred at Hampshire College and Evergreen State College, as well as the WeDivest campaign which focuses on pension fund giant TIAA CREF and has resulted in, among other things, the removal of Caterpillar from its Social Choice Funds. 

Sabreen Shalabi, the student representative on the legislative council for the school of social science and co-author of the legislation said, “I am very proud of my fellow council members and of the students at our University. Our work today stands tall in the noble tradition of students advocating for justice, joining the ranks of those brave and visionary students who demanded that our Universities divest from the terrible crimes of South African apartheid.” 

Traci Ishigo, President of the Associated Student of UCI and a member of the UC Irvine Foundation, said “The decision made by ASUCI’s legislative Council tonight clearly shows the strength and integrity of students utilizing their collective power to protect human rights on a global scale and I stand firmly by the students who believe it is their responsibility to have a voice on matters that urge the UC to be an institution that treasures human dignity.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thank Disney for Denouncing Ahava!

Our member group CODEPINK is asking supporters to sign their e-card to thank Abigail Disney for disowning her share of her family's investment in Ahava cosmetics. Shamrock Holdings, owned by the Disney family, is believed to have an investment worth around $12 million in the company. 

“I cannot in good conscience profit from what is technically the ‘plunder’ or ‘pillage’ of occupied natural resources and the company’s situating its factory in an Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank," she said. Make sure to send her a thank you!

This is just the latest victory for the
Stolen Beauty Campaign and BDS. Earlier this month the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church-USA passed a resolution to boycott all Israeli settlement products, specifically naming Ahava products. 

The campaign's next target is Nordstrom, and you can send a letter demanding the department store stop selling Ahava products

And make sure to
register to join us at our National Organizers' Conference September 21-23 at St. Louis University to celebrate this and many other recent BDS victories. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

BDS Win! Disney Renounces Investments in Ahava

The Stolen Beauty Campaign, a project of our member group CODEPINK to boycott Israel's Ahava cosmetics, announced today that Abigail Disney, a principal investor of Shamrock Holdings Incorporated, the Roy E. Disney family fund, is disclaiming her share of Shamrock's investment in Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories. Ahava, an Israeli cosmetics firm with its factory and visitors center in an illegal West Bank settlement, is a privately held corporation. Shamrock owns about 18.5% of the company. 

In a press release, Disney states:

“Recent evidence from the Israeli Civil Administration documents that Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories sources mud used in its products from the Occupied shores of the Dead Sea, which is in direct contravention to provisions in The Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions forbidding the exploitation of occupied natural resources. While I will always hold my colleagues and coworkers in the highest regard, I cannot in good conscience profit from what is technically the ‘plunder’ or ‘pillage’ of occupied natural resources and the company’s situating its factory in an Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank. Because of complicated legal and financial constraints I am unable to withdraw my investment at this time, but will donate the corpus of the investment as well as the profits accrued to me during the term of my involvement to organizations working to end this illegal exploitation.”

Just last month the Stolen Beauty Campaign celebrated its three-year anniversaryAccording to Haaretz: "Stolen Beauty’s activity in the United States and elsewhere has helped make Ahava cosmetics one of the first mentioned in any discussion of products that are produced in settlements or in industrial zones operated in settlements but are marked 'Made in Israel.'" 

We congratulate CODEPINK on this victory and hope you will join us at our
National Organizers' Conference September 21-23 at St. Louis University to celebrate! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anti-BDS Propaganda Fail

The anti-BDS crowd has been dealt a major blow to their propaganda attempts this week after MSCI made it clear that Israel was a major factor in its decision to remove Caterpillar from three of its popular indexes that track socially responsible investments.

Last week several pro-Israel groups claimed that, once again, the "BDS Movement Tells Lies and Creates Pretend 'Victories'" and that TIAA-CREF's decision to remove $72 million in Caterpillar shares from its Social Choice Fund had nothing to do with Israel.  

But from an MSCI statement issued June 25: 
“The key factors determining the rating include a January 2012 labor dispute and subsequent plant closing in Canada, an on-going controversy associated with use of the company’s equipment in the occupied Palestinian territories, management of environmental issues, and employee safety."
This doesn't mean that Caterpillar is willing to get the message just yet. Caterpillar spokesman Jim Dugan said in a statement: "We hope and wish for a peaceful resolution to the unrest in the Middle East, but that solution is a political matter to be worked out by the appropriate parties. Caterpillar does not and should not have a role in that political process." But apparently Caterpillar has no problem having a role in destroying Palestinian homes and being complicit in Israeli human rights abuses

The Israeli government is in even greater denial. "Mixing politics and the economy in such a desperate and biased manner makes for very poor economic results and even poorer politics," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
"As long as they [Palestinians] spend their time on negative hate campaigns instead of building their own society and economy, they will be on the losing side at the end of the day."

The desperate attempts to spin this clear
BDS victory for human rights into something else is just another sign of the increasing success of BDS activism both in the United States and across the world. We have to use this win to push harder to end corporate complicity in Israeli occupation and apartheid. 

Sign our letter
to the Presbyterian Church-USA urging them to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solution and HP. Register for our National Organizers' Conference at St. Louis University September 21-23 to strengthen BDS efforts. And check out our website for more ideas on how you can get involved.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

BDS WIN: TIAA-CREF Removes Caterpillar from Social Choice Funds

Press Release from We Divest Campaign 

Caterpillar Removed from TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds

Victory for Pro-divestment Advocates

June 21, 2012- Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF has removed Caterpillar, Inc. from its Social Choice Funds portfolio. As of May 1, 2012, financial data posted on TIAA-CREF’s website valued Social Choice Funds shares in Caterpillar at $72,943,861. Today it is zero.

“We applaud this decision,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and National Coordinator of the We Divest Campaign ( “It’s long past time that TIAA-CREF began living up to its motto of ‘Financial Services for the Greater Good’ when it comes to the people of Israel and Palestine.” 

Since 2010, We Divest has been urging TIAA-CREF to drop Caterpillar and other companies profiting from and facilitating Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

“By selling weaponized bulldozers to Israel, Caterpillar is complicit in Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights,” said Rabbi Wise. “We’re glad to see that the socially responsible investment community appears to be recognizing this and is starting to take appropriate action.”

Caterpillar has come under increasing criticism from human rights organizations in recent years for continuing to supply bulldozers to Israel, which uses them to demolish Palestinian civilian homes and destroy crops and agricultural land in the occupied territories, and to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.

In the coming weeks, many will be watching the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly taking place in Pittsburgh, where church commissioners will vote on a motion to divest from Caterpillar and two other companies, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard, that remain in TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds.

Last month, Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker institution, divested $900,000 worth of shares in Caterpillar stating: “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.”

What Others are Saying

Omar Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and founding member of the BDS movement said, “CAT is out of the bag of TIAA-CREF’s socially responsible companies thanks to the inspiring campaign waged by JVP and its partners, with vision, persistence and tactical skillfulness. Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee (BNC), deeply appreciates these efforts and believes that more pressure will ultimately convince TIAA-CREF to fulfill its basic moral obligation to finally divest from CAT and all other corporations that are complicit in Israel’s grave and escalating violations of international law and human rights.”

Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel Corrie’s parents said, “For nearly a decade, we have witnessed human rights abuses committed with Caterpillar equipment in the West Bank and Gaza and have joined thousands who have asked the company to stop supporting these actions.  We are hugely gratified that TIAA-CREF has taken this step.  When governments and corporations avoid responsibility, we must refuse to profit from their abuses. Our family salutes and thanks TIAA-CREF for this decision that moves all of us closer to accountability.”

Jennifer Bing, Middle East Program Director of the Chicago office of the American Friends Service Committee, a member organization of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, said, “As a TIAA-CREF client institution which has divested from Caterpillar ourselves, we are encouraged to see this first, great step toward creating a complete occupation-free portfolio that my colleagues and I are eager to have as an investment option.”

Samia Shafi of Adalah-NY, a member organization of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, said,  “This small, positive first step shows that TIAA-CREF is not immune to pressure for human rights for Palestinians. Our We Divest Campaign will continue pressuring TIAA-CREF until we win full divestment from all companies in TIAA-CREF’s portfolio that profit from violations of Palestinian human rights.”

Anna Baltzer, National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation — a coalition of more than 380 organizations around the country — and a member group of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, stated: “After years of Caterpillar refusing to change its practices, we are gratified that the U.S. corporation and others like it are seeing that support for Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies comes at a dear cost. There can be no more business as usual with such institutions. The tide is turning.”

Continue Reading

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

Thursday, June 7, 2012

BDS WIN! ASU Votes to Divest from Israel

The undergraduate student government at Arizona State University on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill demanding that ASU divest from and blacklist corporations that are complicit in human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian Territories and Sudan. 

This announcement is yet another victory in the global BDS movement to pressure Israel to end its human rights violations against Palestinians and comply with international law. 

From the ASU SJP chapter: "Arizona State University, a university with an endowment of over $735 million, aspires to be the 'New American University' with globally engaged students. We, students, at ASU want our university to make socially responsible investment decisions; we also want ASU’s investments to reflect its values as an institution. The bill calls for ASU to divest from and blacklist companies such as Alliant Tech Systems, Boeing, Caterpillar, Motorola, United Technologies, Petrochina, China National Petroleum Company, Sinopec, Oil and Natural Gas Company and Alstom."

As the BDS movement continues to grow, there are many ways you can help. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Failing Boycott Campaign?

The claim that BDS efforts are failing is a favorite of pro-Israel opponents of BDS. Just this past weekend, in reaction to Madonna performing her "peace concert" Israel, the Board of Deputies of British Jews claimed that comparisons with apartheid-era South Africa were "a specious and desperate effort by a failing boycott campaign." 

Let's list some of these "failures" in the past few months:
  • Arizona State University student government votes to divest from Israel
  • Student-Run Cafe at The Evergreen State College Announces Boycott of Israeli Products
  • South Africa and Denmark to correctly label Israeli settlement products
  • World United Methodist Church Recommends Boycotts & Sanctions
  • UK Co-op boycotts exports from Israel's West Bank settlements
  • UMASS- Boston Student Senate Passes Resolution Calling for Divestment from Boeing
  • M.E.Ch.A., the largest association of Latin@ youth in the United States, voted to endorse BDS call
  • Two US Delegations Endorse BDS and Call for Action in the United States
  • Madonna may have played in Israel and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have yet to cancel their planned performance (more than 6,000 people have signed a petition asking them to respect the BDS call) but the list of artists who have cancelled concerts and events in Israel include the late Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Mike Leigh, Klaxons and Gorillaz Sound System. Coldplay, U2 and Bruce Springsteen have declined invitations to play in Israel without supporting the boycott publicly.
If BDS were such a failure, why then waste time filing lawsuits, urging people to buy Israeli products or spending millions of dollars to fight against BDS efforts? 

The Presbyterian Church (USA) will vote on divestment from Caterpillar, HP and Motorola Solutions next month. Sign this letter of support and check out other ways you can get involved in BDS work

Thursday, October 27, 2011

BDS Victory: Alstom loses Saudi Haramain Railway contract worth $10B

The BDS National Committee (BNC) has declared a long sought-after victory as Alstom lost the bid for the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project, worth $10 billion US dollars, after pressure from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, including effective campaigning from the newly launched KARAMA, a European campaign to Keep Alstom Rail And Metro Away. 

In 2008 the BNC, the largest Palestinian civil society coalition, with partners in Europe and Israel, launched the Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, due to the two companies’ involvement in Israel’s illegal Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR) project, which explicitly aims to “Judaize Jerusalem,” according to official Israeli statements, by cementing Israel’s hold on the illegal colonial settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in and around Jerusalem. Since then, Veolia has lost more than $12B worth of contracts following boycott activism in Sweden, the UK, Ireland and elsewhere. Alstom, too, suffered substantial blows when the Swedish national pension fund AP7 excluded it from its investment portfolio, after having been excluded from the Dutch ASN Bank due to the company’s involvement in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, and has recently announced its intention to withdraw from the project.

The decision is in line with a decision adopted by consensus at the Arab Summit held in Khartoum in 2006 which condemned in the JLR project and called on “the two French companies [Alstom and Veolia] to immediately withdraw from the project,” and demanding that punitive measures be taken against them “if they don’t comply.” The Arab Summit also urged the French government to take the necessary measure in this respect to honor its obligations under international law. In March 2010, the UN’s Human Rights Council denounced Israel’s JLR project for being “in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.”


Thursday, September 29, 2011

CU-Divest! delivers 2000+ signature to CU Regents!

US Campaign member group CU-Divest! presented a petition with over two thousand signatures asking the university to divest.  Read more about the group's efforts here, or visit the group's website: CU-Divest!

by Michael Rabb

A week ago on September 12th, CU-Divest! at the Regents’ meeting at UC Denver, delivered our petition asking the University of Colorado to divest from Israeli Apartheid.  I count this action as one of our major successes.  Thanks to Beth Daud and her determined group of campus activists and the folks who drove down from Boulder, we had “good” showing with signs and flyers and this time I think we had the Regents’ attention.  We handed out our flyer requesting the Regents to support our campaign and sign our petition.  The flyer highlights a campaign that was successful in the 1980s in compelling CU to divest from South African apartheid. 

In public comment segment of the meeting we made our appeal to the Regents to divest from Israeli apartheid. In addition, we delivered our petition with over 2000 signatures, making the argument that CU should not remain complicit in Israel’s oppression by profiting from the illegal an immoral occupation and apartheid.

After we spoke, the opposition, from the ADL and CU’s Hillel student made a few comments:  mostly about how complicated the Israel-Palestine conflict is, and that human rights and social justice are not the purview of CU, and it’s none of CU’s business what Israel does to the Palestinian people.

Then a marvelous thing happened: Regent Jim Geddes turned to the Treasurer of the University of Colorado, Donald Eldhart, and asked the Treasurer to explain the process for divestment and to provide some history of other divestment actions.  This was significant because for the first time in the six months that CU-Divest! has been communicating with and petitioning the University, the Regents have indicated an interest in our campaign.

A short discussion with the Treasurer and other Regents including Regent Michael Carrigan ensued regarding divestment process and history, specifically when CU divested from Sudan’s genocide in 2006.  So I count this as a success and important milestone in our effort to engage the University on the issue of Palestinian rights and our campaign to ask the University to divest from Israeli apartheid.

Protest Video and Petitions Delivered! Thousands tell National Building Museum: No Award to Caterpillar Inc.!

US Campaign member group, the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, along with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Jewish Voice for Peace, CODEPINK, and the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace, celebrated a victory earlier this month when the National Building Museum announced its cancellation of the ceremony to award Caterpillar, Inc. with an award for "innovation in building technology" and "exceptional leadership," following a campaign which gathered more than 7,000 signatures. However, the National Building Museum did not rescind the award itself, prompting protesters to demonstrate outside the museum when Cindy and Craig Corrie delivered the petition, as described below in an account from the Rachel Corrie Foundation... Make sure to check out the video!

Earlier this month we convinced the National Building Museum (NBM) in Washington DC to cancel its September 14th public ceremony to award its prestigious Henry C. Turner Prize to Caterpillar Inc. Then last week, acting on behalf of the Rachel Corrie Foundation, we and representatives of Jewish Voice for Peace, Code Pink, the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (a coalition of more than 350 organizations) held a protest outside the F Street museum entrance. We sang, chanted, flyered, and chatted with the public. We then entered the Museum's lofty Great Hall to deliver the call from 150 regional, national, and international organizations and more than 7000 individuals to rescind the prize to Caterpillar Inc. completely. 
Petition Delivery and Action at the National Building Museum
Petition Delivery and Action at the National Building Museum
Video courtesy of Bill Simonds, JVP - DC Metro Chapter  
We met with Museum Development Events Manager Jessie Cochran. She promised to deliver our petitions to the Museum's Executive Director, Chase Rynd, along with our requests to consider the human rights records of future award candidates and to use the museum's public forums to discuss the built environment during conflict and occupation.

...This small but public victory is just one indicator of how together we are bringing Palestinian human rights front and center and making a difference. Once again, we have exposed the complicity of Caterpillar Inc. in the ongoing violations of these rights by the Israeli military and government in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel. 

Continue reading here...

Click here to find out more about the BDS Campaign against Caterpillar.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

BDS campaigners force London Ahava shop to move

The BDS movement celebrates another victory this week as the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava is forced to move its London location.  Read more about the boycott of Ahava here.

The central London flagship store of Ahava, an Israeli cosmetics company whose products come from stolen Palestinian natural resources in the occupied West Bank, and are produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, has been forced to move following a sustained campaign from BDS activists.
A spokeswoman for Shaftesbury PLC, which owns the property that the shop is currently located in, told the Jewish Chronicle: “When Ahava’s lease expires in September, we will not offer them a new one.”
Demonstrations have been taking place outside the shop every fortnight since March 13 2010, following a call to action from the Bil’in’s Popular Committee. The first action against Ahava took place in January 2009.
The news first came to light last week during a court case resulting from the fifth successful blockade of the shop in November.
Ahava has vowed to open a new shop elsewhere in London. Campaigners have vowed to continue the campaign.
Visit for more information. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Palestinian civil society welcomes Agrexco liquidation, calls for celebration of this BDS victory

The BDS movement celebrates a victory this week as Agrexo, a partially state-owIsraeli produce export company, is forced to liquidate.  Much of their produce is grown in illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

For Immediate Release - September 12, 2011

Campaigners for Palestinian rights are celebrating after the primary Israeli agricultural produce export company Agrexco, which has been a key target of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in support of Palestinian rights, has been ordered into liquidation after being unable to pay its creditors.
Agrexco is a partially state-owned Israeli exporter responsible for the export of a large proportion of fresh Israeli produce, including 60-70% of the agricultural produce grown in Israel’s illegal settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).  In a translation of the court documents on the liquidation process that the BNC obtained, it is clearly stated that Agrexco acted as an arm of the Israeli state, effectively providing state subsidies to the agricultural sector. The documents indicate criticism of the government for allowing the company to default on its debts and also warn that Agrexco is a primary Israeli symbol and that its downfall is likely to have great implications.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thank Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for Slam-Dunking Israeli Apartheid!

Two months ago, YNet News reported that legendary basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was planning to visit Israel in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Consulate of New York. NBA Sporting News reported that Abdul-Jabbar would be competing for the "Spirit of Freedom Award" at the Jerusalem Film Festival.

In private correspondence, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has confirmed that the former Los Angeles Lakers star has decided not to visit Israel, due to concerns arising "after the Nakba Day violence." This year's commemoration of the Nakba left 12 unarmed Palestinians dead after Israeli forces opened fire on refugees attempting to exercise their internationally recognized right of return.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, thank you for calling Israel's foul! Israeli cultural institutions like the Jerusalem Film Festival are used cynically to brand Israel as a beacon of cultural and technological progress, diverting attention away from its occupation and apartheid policies. For this reason, cultural boycott of Israel is a key component of the growing Palestinian-led movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law. You can read the Palestinian guidelines for cultural boycott here.

101 organizations have signed a thank-you letter to Abdul-Jabbar, urging him to hold fast to his decision not to let his good name lend an air of legitimacy to Israeli human rights violations. In addition to the US Campaign, signatories include the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Israel), the Organization for Black Struggle, six Islamic-American organizations, four Jewish organizations, 14 campus groups, and dozens of other US Campaign member organizations.

The letter points out to Abdul-Jabbar:
Your film, "On the Shoulders of Giants," documents the policies of segregation and racism that characterized the world of basketball in the 1930s. Ironically, the majority of Muslim and Christian Palestinians could not even have attended such a screening because they are excluded from entering Jerusalem on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.

Join 101 organizations in showing support for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's decision and urging him to consider the Palestinian call for BDS!

Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman similarly declined an invitation to the Jerusalem Film Festival last year following the deadly attacks on the first Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The second Freedom Flotilla is set to sail to Gaza this month.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Washington University Hip-Hop Program Revokes Invitation to Israeli Cultural Ambassador

St. Louis PSC, one of our member groups, has achieved a remarkable success in the struggle to expose "cultural ambassadors" to the U.S., funded and commissioned by the Israeli government and/or Zionist establishment institutions.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (STL-PSC) welcomes the decision by program organizers to disinvite Israeli hip-hop artist Marvin Casey from Universal Beatz, a week of performances at Washington University in St. Louis by Middle Eastern rappers and dancers, due to begin on Monday, April 11, 2011. Casey’s dance troupe, Tribe 13, is sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel, a Zionist organization that facilitates the immigration of Jews from around the world to Israel while denying the right of Palestinian refugees exiled from their homes and lands from returning. Today, the Jewish Agency for Israel continues to deny Palestinians the use of land in Israel and is connected to the initiative, “Brand Israel,” which seeks to divert worldwide focus away from Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies and towards its scientific and cultural institutions.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Around the world, surge of BDS in response to Gaza Flotilla massacre (and how you can get involved)

Just a few weeks back, we reported on a renewed wave of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) activity against Israeli apartheid and occupation. That was before the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre. Now, as calls for governments around the globe to hold the Israeli military accountable for the killing of 8 Turkish citizens and one U.S.-Turkish citizen continue, and as Turkey, Nicaragua, and others have withdrawn ambassadors or suspended diplomatic ties, civil society groups are sending a clear message that accountability is the job of global citizens, not just states. American Jewish peace activist Anna Balzer writes at her blog:
"Far more significant than protests is the fact that worldwide disapproval has been transforming into concrete rejection of normalization with Israel, including major victories for the Palestinian movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) on Israel until it complies with international law. This past week, the student body at Evergreen College voted to divest from "Israel's illegal occupation." Before she was run over by Israeli soldiers in a US-made Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza, Rachel Corrie had attended Evergreen. Along with divesting, students have voted for a "Caterpillar free" campus. You can support the students by clicking here. A week before the flotilla, Italy's largest supermarkets COOP and Nordiconad announced a boycott of the Israeli produce company, Carmel Agrexco. Four days later, Deutsche Bank (Germany's largest bank, worth more than $1 trillion) announced divestment from Elbit Systems, an Israeli firm that supplies technology for Israel's military, settlements, and Wall (as well as the Wall between the US and Mexico). Deutsche Bank was one of the company's largest share-holders. The next day, it was announced that Sweden's largest national pension funds were also divesting from Elbit. (Norway did the same more than one year ago.) Going a step further, the Swedish Port Workers Union announced last Wednesday that it would temporarily stop handling Israeli cargo in response to the attacks on the flotilla. On the same day, Britain's largest union, Unite, passed a unanimous motion "to vigorously promote a policy of divestment from Israeli companies" and to boycott Israeli goods and services as in "the boycott of South African goods during the era of apartheid." Then yesterday, the Pixies canceled their upcoming concert in Israel in response to Israel's attack on the flotilla. Musical artists Klaxons and Gorillaz canceled as well. This on the heels of cancelations by Santana, Gil Scott-Heron, Snoop Dog, Sting, and Elvis Costello. These are but a few of the BDS victories that have happened just in the last month. The movement that officially began in 2005 crossed its first threshold in 2009 (having gained in four years the same momentum it took the BDS movement against South Africa 20 years to achieve), but 2010 has brought it to a new level."
There's more. In Norway, Kristin Halvorsen, Norway's health minister and head of the Socialist Left party, called on Tuesday for the international community to boycott arms trade with Israel, in line with Norway's existing policy, while 40% of Norwegians were polled in favor of boycotting Israeli products. In Sweden, there was talk of canceling an under-21 soccer game against Israel in response to the massacre, something that Turkey's under-19 soccer team had already decided. In South Africa, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) agreed to an "escalation of the boycott of Israeli goods and call[ed] upon our fellow trade unionists not to handle them," as well as declaring that they would "not...allow any Israeli ship to dock or unload in any South African port." The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) decided "to 'immediately work towards' making every municipality in South Africa "an Apartheid Israel free zone' by ensuring 'that there are no commercial, academic, cultural, sporting or other linkages whatsoever with the Israeli regime.'" Poet and 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner Alice Walker has a pro-BDS piece in the Huffington Post. Former US Campaign National Organizer Noura Erakat has a piece in MERIP on BDS in the United States from 2001-2010. And the Nation is running an article on BDS by US Campaign Steering Committee member Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss of the Mondoweiss blog. Many of these BDS victories are related to campaigns that the US Campaign's membership has voted to focus on, such as the Caterpillar vote at Evergreen and the Pixie's decision not to play Tel Aviv. So how can you get involved in this global movement for accountability and justice? Here are five quick ways! 1) Support Evergreen College's divestment and Caterpillar Free Zone votes by clicking here. Caterpillar bulldozers are responsible for much of the devastation of civilian and agriculture infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. The Goldstone Report found numerous instances of the Israeli military using these bulldozers as weapons during Operation Cast Lead. Many of the rebuilding supplies carried by the Gaza Freedom Flotilla could have been used to rebuild this damage. Click here to read more about the Caterpillar campaign. Recently US Campaign member groups organized an action at the Caterpillar shareholder meeting in Chicago. Click here to read more, and here to see a video of the protest including an interview with US Campaign Steering Committee member Jennifer Bing-Canar. 2) Sign a "Hang Up on Motorola" boycott pledge by clicking here. Motorola has the exclusive contract to provide the Israeli military with encrypted mobile phone technology. That means that the Israeli commandos who boarded the Gaza Freedom boats were likely communicating with each other using Motorola technology. Motorola also has close ties with Aeronautics Defense Systems (ADS), which makes drone aircraft that the Israeli military used during Operation Cast Lead. Click here to read more about the Motorola campaign. 3) Sign a "Stolen Beauty" Ahava boycott pledge by clicking here. Ahava is a cosmetics company with factories in illegal settlements in the West Bank. These settlements are part of the infrastructure of Israeli occupation and apartheid. Find out more about the Ahava campaign by clicking here. 4) Start a divestment campaign on your campus by clicking here. Evergreen College's divestment vote--and the incredible gains made at UC Berkeley and Hampshire college, among others--didn't come out of the blue. Divestment campaigns take organizing, coalition building, and a lot of hard work! Find our how you can start a divestment campaign when you return to your campus in the fall and download our Campus Divestment handbook by clicking here. 5) Sign up as a local BDS organizer by clicking here. Already signed a boycott pledge? Want to do more? Get materials and resources to be a local organizer for our BDS campaigns by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Media Coverage and Major Victories

Hi folks, We know that you all have been busy responding to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre. Thank you for all that you do for justice, human rights, and peace. We just wanted to share with you that we've been compiling media coverage of the US Campaign and member groups during this crisis. Check it out, and let us know if your organization has received media coverage that we can include. In the midst of emergency responses to the attack on the flotilla, there have been major developments and victories related to the ongoing priorities of the US Campaign. Here's three examples: 1) Former UN Assistant Secretary General Dr. Peter Bourne has asked the US State Department to rule on Israel's use of U.S. weapons in attack on Gaza Flotilla, and he credits the US Campaign with the research; check it out by clicking here. 2) Evergreen College students voted by 79.5% to divest, and by 71.8% to establish a Caterpillar free campus Please send emails to the school encouraging them to carry out what the students have vote for. 3) The Pixies canceled their upcoming conference in Israel--the direct catalyst being the flotilla, but the groundwork for which was laid by the US Campaign and member groups in response to a call from Boycott Within. Great work everyone--may these victories give us new energy and motivation for the ongoing struggle! Thanks, peace, David

Friday, April 9, 2010

BDS Victory: Swedish Pension Funds Exclude Elbit

In another example of the growth of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli occupation and apartheid worldwide, the Swedish pension fund has divested from Israeli apartheid wall-builder Elbit, a divestment decision that follows earlier divestment targeting Elbit by Norwegian and Danish funds:
"The First, Second, Third and Fourth National Pension Fund (AP1, AP2, AP3 and AP4) have decided to exclude the Israeli defense company Elbit Systems from their investments. The dialogue of the AP funds joint Ethical Council with Elbit Systems has not produced the desired results, according to a press release. The reason that Elbit Systems, are rejected is that the company delivered a monitoring system to parts of the barrier built on West Bank. In this way the company, "is connected to the violation of fundamental norms and conventions", according to Ethics Council." Despite repeated requests, Elbit Systems has refused to comment on the matter, said Ethics Council."
Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel comments:
"This fresh victory comes after the Norwegian pension fund had decided last year to divest from Elbit Systems as well. The largest Danish Bank, Danske Bank, has also done the same. Holding Israeli and international companies accountable for profiting from Israel's violations of international law and Palestinian rights has clearly become less taboo and may soon spread from the Nordic countries to others in the West."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Major BDS Victory in Europe: "EU court: West Bank goods not Israeli"

Ha'aretz and YNet are both carrying an Associated Press report on a major victory for BDS in Europe:
In a ruling touching on the status of the West Bank, the European Union high court said Thursday the disputed area is not part of Israel and Israeli goods made there are subject to EU import duties. The ruling has no immediate bearing on the Mideast peace process. But for trade purposes, it argues Israel has no standing in the area where it has built settlements and where its companies make such products as cookies, pretzels, wines, cosmetics and computer equipment. The ruling opens the door to EU import duties on Israeli goods from the West Bank rendering those products less competitive.
The Ha'aretz article also the connection between the settlement enterprise and exploitative labor practices toward Palestinian workers--practices, we might add, that echo those of apartheid South Africa--and highlighted the work of European civil society in targeting settlement goods based on international law:
Many of the settlements there use Palestinian workers, who earn less than their counterparts in Israel. But since Palestinians are largely barred from working in Israel and have few job opportunities in the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, jobs in settlement factories are sought after. Pro-Palestinian groups in Europe are likely to be pleased by Thursday's ruling because they regularly protest in European supermarkets to complain about Israeli labels on farm products from the West Bank. Israel continues to build settlements there that are widely seen as illegal under international law and a hindrance to the search for peace with the Palestinians.
Congratulations to our compatriots in the European BDS movement for this victory! Get involved with BDS in your community--click here to learn more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another Danish fund divests from Elbit systems!

Yesterday we reported that Dankse Bank has decided to exclude Elbit Systems and Africa Israel from its investment portfolio due to the companies' involvement in the Israeli occupation. Now there's more good news--one of the largest Danish pension funds has divested from Elbit as well as two U.S. companies that are involved with Israel's Apartheid Wall. Note that Elbit also has half of the contract on the Wall being built by the United States government on the Mexico border. Here's an excerpt from a press release issued by our allies at Stop the Wall:
"Danish Bank (Danske Bank), the biggest financial group in Denmark, has excluded Elbit Systems and Africa Israel from its investment portfolio because of their involvement in providing equipment for the Wall and in settlement construction. The Danish Bank is normally not quick to divest as its list of excluded companies has now risen to only 24 companies around the globe. However, Thomas H. Kjaergaard, responsible for socially responsible investment in the Danish Bank Group commented: "We handle clients 'interests, and we do not want to put customers' money in companies that violate international standards." PKA Ltd. (in Danish: Pensionskassernes Administration A/S), one of the largest funds administrating workers’ pension funds in Denmark, announced it would no longer consider investments in Elbit Systems, and US companies Megal Security Systems and Detection Systems. All three are supplying equipment for the Wall. PKA has sold shares in Elbit worth almost one million dollars. "The ICJ stated that the barrier only serves military purposes and violates Palestinian human rights. We cannot rule out the inclusion of other companies in our blacklist for their role in this area,” said Michael Nellemann, investment director of PKA. These decisions come in the wake of media pressure in Berlingske Tidende exposing the investments in companies investing in the settlements and aiding and supplying the construction of the Wall. The Norwegian government initiated the recent surge in divestments from the illegal wall announcing last September their decision to cut ties with Elbit systems."
Boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns are really taking off in Europe--and the movement is gaining strength here in the United States, too. Click here to get involved!