Aug 30, 2010

Postal union backs end to Gaza blockade - #BDS

TORONTO — The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is urging Canadians to send postcards to Palestinians on a ship that will attempt to run the blockade of Gaza.

CUPW, which supports boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) efforts to isolate Israel, said Israel’s suspension of mail delivery to Gaza “is for us a more global issue. Gaza is for us like a prison for 1.5 million people. They cannot receive day-to-day necessities,” CUPW president Denis Lemelin said.

CUPW is backing an effort by a coalition of Canadian organizations, many of them Arab or Muslim, to run the blockade some time in October. An organization called Canadian Boat to Gaza states on its website that it is attempting to raise $300,000 to finance a boat and crew that will bring aid and supporters to Gaza. The website says the ship will also “carry exports out of Gaza. Thus asserting their right to export, trade and provide for themselves rather than be at the mercy of international aid.” CUPW hopes to include the postcards on the ship.

PA ministry clamps down on substandard produce - #BDS

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority Ministry of National Economy consumer protection officers carried out 290 inspections across the West Bank last week, officials said Sunday.

Officers, in cooperation with the PA Ministries of Agriculture and Health, inspected 2,498 stores, of which 210 were found to be in violation of laws and regulations, officials explained. Customs agents assisted in the inspections.

Twenty-two samples were taken for testing and 18,596 kg of different varieties of goods were disposed of for falling below Palestinian standards and specifications. Additionally, 33 merchants were referred to prosecution for violating the Consumer Protection Law, the Settlement Boycott Law, or for failing to display prices appropriately.

Irish groups to buy ship for new Gaza aid flotilla - #BDS

DUBLIN, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Pro-Palestinian groups in Ireland launched a fundraising drive on Monday to buy a ship for a second attempt to breach Israel's sea blockade of Gaza.

The Irish Ship to Gaza campaign aims to send between 30 and 50 Irish people, including public figures, journalists and activists, to join a flotilla taking aid to people in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

"Preparations are well under way internationally for the Second Freedom Flotilla, which is being assembled by the same groups that organised the Freedom Flotilla in late May," organisers said in a statement.

Between 10 and 15 ships are expected to take part, cargo ships as well as passenger vessels.
Israeli commandos killed nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists in a melee after they boarded a vessel in the previous flotilla, which also included Irish activists. Israel and the United Nations are holding separate investigations into the incident.

In response to Western criticism, including from its biggest ally the United States, Israel has since eased a land blockade of Gaza where 1.5 million Palestinians live, allowing some civilian goods through, while continuing to enforce its naval embargo of the coastal territory.

Israeli leaders have said their troops, on boarding the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, opened fire in self-defence after being set upon by activists wielding cudgels and knives.

Turkey, once Israel's close strategic ally, called the bloodshed Israeli "state terrorism", withdrew its ambassador from Israel and cancelled joint military exercises. (Reporting by Carmel Crimmins, editing by Tim Pearce)

Art as resistance: "Against the Wall" reviewed - #BDS

The relationship between art and politics has always been ambiguous and contested. For many people, "art is above politics," overlooking that art is embedded in the social world and at the mercy of those (publishers, promoters, galleries, etc.) whose mediation between artist and public is in the fullest sense political.

Artists may trust to the innate power of their work to transcend its exploitation as propaganda. Or they may offer it precisely for such purposes (agit-prop). Or they may seek to withhold it by participation in a campaign of cultural boycott, a tactic being increasingly deployed against the Israeli state.

A seemingly exceptional situation arises when the political context from which art emerges is simultaneously the surface on which it is inscribed. The Berlin Wall has been described as "the world's longest canvas" and was used as such by artists like Thierry Noir, Keith Haring and a host of unknowns.

‘Blues Brother’ helps UJA campaign kick-off - #BDS

TORONTO — UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s 2011 campaign has raised a total of $15.5 million so far, campaign co-chair Jeff Rosenthal announced at last week’s official campaign launch.

The tally was more than he expected: donors had come forward earlier that night to pledge a total of $2.5 million. The event, held Aug. 24 at the Carlu in downtown Toronto, featured actor/comedian Dan Aykroyd.
This year, organizers want to raise an additional $2.5 million beyond what was raised last year, to help young Jews counter negative messages about Israel.
If previous donors can increase their gifts by five per cent, and if those who haven’t given to UJA in the past contribute now, that goal can be achieved “easily,” said Rosenthal.
Last year, UJA raised $64 million. More than $9 million of that amount was raised by UJA Women’s Philanthropy, said women’s philanthropy chair Sarena Koschitzky.
New UJA initiatives this year include reducing the Birthright Israel waiting list from its current number, 1,200, to 600; providing Israel advocacy training for high school and university students; enhancing the quality of Jewish education in day and supplementary schools; and increasing funding to strengthen Jewish summer camps and increase the number of children attending, Rosenthal said.

IBM and EU Partner to Enable the Digitization of Historic European Texts on a Massive Scale - #BDS

HAIFAAug. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the EU have expanded their research collaboration, which now includes more than two-dozen national libraries, research institutes, universities, and companies across Europe to provide new technology that will enable highly-accurate digitization of rare and culturally significant historical texts on a massive scale.  Unlike past digitization projects where the result has been static, online libraries of texts, this unique widescale effort, called IMPACT (IMProving ACcess to Text), will offer new tools and best practices to institutions across Europe that will enable them to efficiently and accurately continue to produce quality digital replicas of historically significant texts and make them widely available, editable and searchable online.  

Funded by the EU, IMPACT's research combines the power of new innovative Web-enabled adaptive optical character recognition (OCR) software with "crowd computing" technology -- a fast growing concept designed around individuals, or 'crowds,' enhancing a process or product by sharing their knowledge and expertise to dramatically improve its quality and efficiency.  Combined, these technologies will allow institutions for the first time to adapt digitization to the idiosyncrasies of old fonts, anomalies and even vocabularies–while reducing error rates by 35% and substitution rates by 75%.

Topman to open stores in Israel - #BDS

Topshop's male subsidiary slated to open first Israel stores in Herzliya's Arena mall, Beersheba. Over next three years, both chains to open 25 branches in Jewish state

Israeli men are in for a nice surprise: British men's clothing chain Topman is scheduled to open stores in Herzliya's Arena Mall and Beersheba's Seventh Avenue shopping center. Topman is the subsidiary of women's fashion retailer Topshop.

Topman's Arena Mall store will stretch over roughly 8,612 square feet and will be adjacent to the mall's Topshop store. It will share its Beersheba branch with Topshop and Miss Selfridge.

The brand's Israel franchiser Sakal Sport said that some 25 Topshop and Topman branches will open in Israel over the next three years. Topshop's prices in Israel are relatively high and Topman's rates are slated to be no different.

The Topshop brand was created in Sheffield, England in 1964. It now operates stores in more than 20 countries around the world.

Read | Edit | View history - #BDS

The next Wikimania conference is set to take place in Haifa, Israel on August 4 – 7, 2011. The location was chosen based on a city bid to host the conference.
We are a group of young women and men, from around the world, who are deeply concerned with this problematic choice of venue. We, therefore, respectfully call on the Wikimedia Foundation to:
  • Read our plea;
  • Edit the location of Wikimania 2011; and,
  • View history of apartheid in Israel.
This campaign is open source in that everyone is invited to contribute their own messages to further our cause. We invite you to comment here or email us on free[at] to send us your supportive arguments so that we can post them on this website.

An Open Letter to All Who Support Shalit’s Family - #BDS

If the price for the release of one thousand Palestinian political prisoners is an Israeli soldier who was part of the criminal siege of Gaza, then so be it.
You understand that the Israeli government is responsible for the fact that Shalit is still a prisoner because Netanyahu’s government refuses to release the Palestinian prisoners that Hamas demands. You are willing to exchange Shalit because in your eyes the life of one Israeli is more valuable than the lives of one thousand Palestinians. As long as you hold to this racist outlook, you remain prisoners of the Israeli state. All 11,000 political Palestinian prisoners should be released, because they belong to a nation struggling against the oppression that you are part of.
What you do not understand is that the Israeli state is responsible for the criminal siege of Gaza, where 1.5 million people are living in a huge open-air prison, most of them refugees expelled by the Israeli state in 1947-8 and their descendants. You have not demanded an end to the siege, or the return of the Palestinian refugees, or the release of all Palestinian political prisoners – because you still believe that the enemy is the Palestinian nation and in particular those who have dared to struggle against their oppression.
You believe that the Hagana, Etzel and Palmach, organizations which used terror against the Palestinians, were freedom fighters, but that the Palestinians who are struggling for their freedom are terrorists.
You do not understand that it is not the Palestinian people who are your enemy but the racist imperialist state, Israel. A state that is not only oppressing the Palestinians but is a death trap for you as long as you support and identify yourselves with this state.

London Ahava Shop Vandalized...Again - #BDS


An Israeli skin care shop has had red paint thrown across its windows in a suspected targeted attack.
The Ahava store – famous for its Dead Sea products – was covered in the paint during the incident in Covent Garden, central London, on Wednesday night.
Staff discovered the damage when they arrived for work on Thursday morning.
Shop assistant Rita Trindad said: “We don’t know exactly what happened. I came in this morning and there was red paint all over the windows. We cleaned the windows this afternoon and we are still open – it’s business as usual.”
She said the attack had been reported to police who are now investigating.

Campaign to buy Israeli goods is launched - #BDS

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- A pro-Israel group has launched an online campaign to buy Israeli goods.
StandWithUs announced the Buy Israeli Goods campaign to counter the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which calls for boycotting and divesting from companies that do business with Israel and sanctioning Israel for actions in Gaza and the West Bank.
“This is a movement to counter BDS with positive energy,” said StandWithUs executive director Roz Rothstein.
In its online flyer, the group lists six reasons to oppose boycotts against Israel.
Boycotting Israel hurts the peace process by encouraging hard-liners and “does nothing to help the Palestinians improve their lives,” the flyer states, adding that shoppers should buy both Israeli and Palestinian products as “an investment in peaceful coexistence.”
StandWithUs has released an online button promoting the campaign for supporters to post to their Facebook walls.
The campaign website, which will be live in about a month, will include a list of products made in Israel that are available in North America. Supporters are asked to speak with local merchants and request that they carry the listed products.

مقاطعة المنتجات الإسرائيلية في اسكتلندا

قالت صحيفة أسكتلندية الأحد إن تجارا مسلمين في غلاسغو بدؤوا حملة مقاطعة للمنتجات الإسرائيلية احتجاجا على الاستيطان وممارسات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي ضد الفلسطينيين.
وأوضحت أسبوعية صنداي هيرالد في خبر خاص بها أن أولئك التجار يرفضون تخزين المنتجات الإسرائيلية في مخازنهم, قائلة إن هذه الخطوة أثارت قلق الجماعات اليهودية.
ووفقا للصحيفة, فإن نحو ثلاثين محلا تجاريا لعائلات مسلمة من أصول آسيوية في الجزء الجنوبي من المدينة –وهي أكبر مدينة في أسكتلندا, وثالث أكبر مدينة في المملكة المتحدة- تشارك في الحملة.
وقالت إن مؤيدين للحملة خرجوا السبت إلى الشارع تأييدا للتجار الذين يرفضون تخزين تلك المنتجات, وأعلنوا أنه سيقع التشهير بالمتاجر التي لا تلزم بالمقاطعة.
وذكرت الأسبوعية الأسكتلندية أن عددا من المتاجر المشاركة في التحرك الذي تقوده حملة التضامن الأسكتلندية الفلسطينية, وجمعية أصدقاء الأقصى في غلاسغو, وضعت ملصقات كتب عليها "لا نبيع منتجات إسرائيلية".
وأعلن منظمو حملة المقاطعة أنهم سيوسعون نطاقها لتشمل أنحاء أسكتلندا الأخرى بعد نجاحها في غلاسغو.

TEDx: Equating the Colonizer and Colonized

It has come to our knowledge that TED, a non-profit organization carrying the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading” has started a program called the “TEDxHolyLand.” This is supposed to be an experience which seeks to “bring together the people of Palestine and Israel who do not ordinarily meet to share a half day together hearing and discussing TED talks on a wide range of topics of common interest.”[i] The Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic boycott of Israel and University Teachers' Association in Palestine consider this an act of normalization that violates the boycott guidelines issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)[ii]. TED seems to be unaware of the fact that the reason why “the people of Palestine and Israel” cannot get together is because the former are colonized and the latter are settler colonists. It also ignores the fact that Israel is an apartheid state, as former American president Jimmy Carter and anti-Apartheid activist and Nobel Laureate Desmund Tutu called it; a state that discriminates against more than 1.2 million Palestinians living in it as second class citizens.

The Israeli partner in this program is Liat Aaronson who is the executive director of an entrepreneurship program at the Interdisciplinary Centre (IDC) at Herzliya University. The program describes the Palestinian and Israeli organizers as coming from a background “that defines them as enemies” and seeks to allow them to “challenge each other, understand each other, and empower each other.” Before we get carried away by the seemingly false utopian aura of the program and its poetic tinge, we ought to ask if the Israeli participant will be willing to admit to her Palestinian counterpart that the creation of the state of Israel was responsible for the (continuing) ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people since 1948? That it illegally occupies the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and racially discriminates against the 1948 Palestinians in what the United Nations Special Rapporteur John Dugard described as the only remaining case after South African Apartheid fell, “of a Western-affiliated regime that denies self-determination and human rights to a developing people and that has done so for so long.”?  A state responsible for ongoing house demolitions, illegal settlement expansions and the building of a monstrous Apartheid Wall—not to mention the collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza, who are subjugated to a brutal, medieval siege entering its fourth year?

We wonder how Aaronson will remember the 413 children killed by Israel in the last genocidal war against the Palestinians of Gaza. Will that also be squeezed into the falsely beautified and ambiguous slogan of “let’s stop the violence?” Unless this is a reference to the violence of the colonizer; the fourth largest army in the world with hundreds of nuclear heads?

 Where are the "two sides" of this "conflict?" This is an issue of injustice around continuous dispossession and subjugation of one people by another people. Do we understand from the organizers of TED that there was a "conflict" between the native Blacks of South Africa and the White supremacists of the apartheid regime?

If “challenging” the Palestinian partner in the program means that Aaronson will admit to these atrocities committed by her own state, as a group of courageous Israeli activists from Boycott From Within and BOYCOTT!! have done, then perhaps we can reconsider our position.

This initiative is one more arrogant attempt to equate between; colonizer and colonized; oppressor and oppressed ;victim and executioner. The mere fact that TED’s Palestinian partner is unable to confront Aaronson with the reality of her displaced people is proof enough of the inequality and bias this program is based upon.

Once again, we would like to call on the Israeli partner, who is in a privileged position, to consider joining hands with the conscientious Israeli Boycott from Within anti-apartheid activists. Then, perhaps the “vision” of the TED experience and the “Ideas Worth Spreading” would involve spreading the voices of the marginalized, suppressed, and silenced Palestinians in the impoverished and crowded refugee camps, in the Gaza concentration camp, and in the Bantustanized West Bank, promoting their right to self-determination and the right of return of all those displaced and forcefully removed throughout Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands in accordance with International Law.

We, therefore, consider this project a continuation of a campaign of normalization that aims at whitewashing Israel’s tarnished image and does nothing but falsely creates the facade that there are actually two equal sides to “the conflict.”

Besieged Gaza,

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)

University Teachers' Association

London Student Officers Condemn Funjoya “Festival”

We strongly condemn the Israeli government’s disgraceful attempt to
whitewash their crimes against the Palestinians with their “student
festival” Funjoya.

We are not surprised that students are considered a “target group” by
Israel; in London we were out in our thousands opposing the war crimes in
Gaza in 2009, when we marched on the streets and occupied our universities
demanding action from our Universities and Government. More and more
students across Europe are joining the international movement in
solidarity with the Palestinians, especially since we witnessed on our TV
screens the slaughter of aid activists on a humanitarian ship to Gaza.
What state uses special commando troops to attack a civilian aid boat in
international waters? How could we possibly encourage our students to
attend a festival organised by such a state? A state responsible for the
brutal siege on the people of Gaza, the continued military occupation, and
expansion of illegal settlements, in the West Bank. A state responsible
for the discrimination of Palestinians living in Israel, including the
ethnic cleansing taking place to this very day in the Negev. How many
students from these communities will be attending “Funjoya”?

We join you in your call for students to boycott this festival. Not only
will we not be attending, but will also be encouraging our fellow students
in London to join us in boycotting this attempt to hide the crimes of
apartheid and occupation.

In solidarity,

Clare Solomon, President, University of London Union
James Haywood, Campaigns and Communications Officer, Goldsmiths Students’
Arfah Farooq, Black and Ethnic Officer, Goldsmiths Students’ Union
Sean Rillo Raczka, Union Chair, Birkbeck Students’ Union
Ashok Kumar, Education Officer, LSE Students’ Union
Jasper Kain Co-President Sports and Societies, SOAS Students’ Union
Elly Badcock, Secretary, SOAS Students’ Union
Milaad Rajai, Co-President Welfare and Education, SOAS Students’ Union
Mark Bergfeld, National Union Students, National Executive Committee
Hanif Leylabi National Union Students, LGBT Committee

All signatories write in a personal capacity.

UK Unions single out Israel boycott

Britain's trade unionists will vote on a resolution next month at their annual conference, condemning Israel for stepping up its atrocities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The resolution to be adopted by Britain's six-and-a-half million trade union members at thier conference in Manchester, northwest England, condemns Israeli-imposed siege on the Gaza Strip where the living conditions are increasingly being deteriorated for more than 1.5 million impoverished people living in the impoverished territory.

It states that Israel is undermining the viability of the occupied West Bank and the East Al-Quds areas and their potentials for establishing an independent Palestinian state through the deliberate strategy of annexing massive swathes of land, destroying Palestinians' homes and erecting walls and checkpoints in defiance of international laws and UN resolutions.

The resolution also strongly condemns Israeli army's assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla last year which was seeking to take humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, calling on world leaders to hold Israel accountable for massacring international activists in international waters.

The UK's Trade Union Congress (TUC) Global Solidarity will also urge the British government and the EU leaders to take "much stronger political steps" to ensure Israel abides by UN resolutions. 

Join the 2010 Olive Harvest Campaign

Join the 2010 Olive Harvest Campaign

At a time of increasing settler violence in the West Bank, the International Solidarity Movement is issuing an urgent call for volunteers to participate in the 2010 Olive Harvest Campaign at the invitation of Palestinian communities.

Who profits from Israeli occupation?

After the Israeli attack on Gaza earlier this year, the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign (BDS Movement) escalated all around the world. Now, activists are targeting AHAVA, an Israeli cosmetics company founded by and based in an Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank. The AHAVA company, as many others in Israel that are based in the Palestinian Territories or profit from their occupation are owned by the powerful Israel family - the Livnat family. Lia Tarachansky investigates how the family's dynasty is invested in the economy of the occupation.

"كلمات بلا حدود": دعوة للحوار بين المستعمِر و المستعمَر

لقد أصدرت المجلة الأدبية الالكترونية "كلمات بلا حدود" مؤخراً مبادرة بعنوان "حوار عبر الثقافات في الشرق الأوسط" و الذي يتعارض مع نداء المجتمع المدني الفلسطيني لمقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات منها وفرض العقوبات عليها.
إن القائمتان على هذه المبادرة هما إزارين فار دير فليت علومي، والتي تقدم نفسها على انها مسلمة إيرانية، والإسرائيلية شانا موجينستيرن اللتان تقابلتا اثناء برنامج دراسات عليا في جامعة براون بالولايات المتحدة الأمريكية.
إن فان دير فليت عولومي وموجينستيرن في القدس الآن حيث تقومان بتولي مهمة السفر "عبر الحدود" وفتح باب "الحوار" مع أشخاص في مناصب ثقافية وسياسية مختلفة. و أوضحت كل منهما أن الغرض من تعاونهما في البرنامج هو " أننا نأمل في كسب وجهات نظر أوسع بشأن الطرق التي تتعامل من خلالها الثقافات الفلسطينية المعاصرة مع النسيج الاجتماعي المختلط والمعقد في المنطقة". وأضافتا: " إن هذه السلسلة, وكما نتوقع, سوف تغطى كل النشاطات الشعرية و تؤدي الى التعاون بين الكتّاب والمثقفين الفلسطينيين والاسرائيلين و مقابلات مع منتجي الأفلام المحليين والدوليين خاصة في مهرجان أفلام القدس بالإضافة إلى زيارة مختلف المؤسسات الثقافية الشعبية في الضفة الغربية" (حوار عبر َالثقافات في الشرق الأوسط, 29يوليو 2010).
على الرغم من أن غرض هذه المبادرة مبهم، فانه من المهم لأى شخص يرغب في الاشتراك في حوار جاد في هذه المنطقة أن يكون واعيا بان ما يسمى "صراعاً" هو بالأحرى إضطهاد يمارسه الاحتلال و نظام الفصل العنصري الاسرائيلي على السكان الأصليين. و كجزء من إستراتيجية المقاومة السلمية، كانت مؤسسات المجتمع المدني الفلسطيني قد اصدرت نداء دولياً لمقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات وفرض العقوبات عليها حتى تنصاع الأخيرة للقانون الدولي وتحترم حقوق الإنسان الفلسطيني.