Sep 8, 2010

#BDS: Letter: From Gaza with love; support a boycott

I am in besieged Gaza for the fifth time as I write this letter. The Israeli occupation/siege/imprisonment continues despite UN condemnation, international outcry and violation of international law.

As citizens of the world we should all be outraged by the atrocious human rights violations occurring here and in the West Bank. The cattle herding of Palestinians through the one border and the trickle of "supplies" (food, no building materials), purporting to be Israel's "relaxing" of the grasp on all borders (only due to flotilla pressure), is an obscenely small gesture in light of the slow strangulation of the people here in Gaza.

What are stocked shelves and shiny new motorcycles when the freedom of 1.5 million humans is restricted to an area the size of the Quimper Peninsula with poor water, over 50 percent unemployment, thousands of displaced/imprisoned families, education and medical care severely compromised, farms and fishing curtailed, and continual attacks by Israel? Americans must understand we are complicit in this human rights violation, as we give Israel $3 billion annually in an arms deal to buy back our F-16s, white phosphorous gas and rockets, which are then used on the Palestinian population.

#BDS: Boycott grows as Stephen Sondheim, Mira Nair and Julianne Moore join call against settlement theater; Palestinian activists say keep focus on the big picture

Jewish Voice for Peace's campaign to support 60 leading Israeli actors and playwrights who are refusing to play a new theater in Ariel continues to grow. Newnotable figures are joining by the day. Ed Asner explains his support, "It is always amazing when actors turn down jobs.To have the actors of Israel say they will not work in those venues is truly an act of courage.. I applaud them and would live to instill the actors of America with that courage." And Corey Fischer, co-founder of the Traveling Jewish Theater (now Jewish Theater San Francisco), expressed his admiration in the spirit of the season, “It seems to me that, as often happens in our times, these artists are taking on what was traditionally the task of the Hebrew Prophets: speaking truth to power. I hope someone is listening.”
But some questions are being raised in Palestine about the Israeli actors' protest. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has issued a statement in response the Israeli actors' boycott [Editor's note: Just to clarify this statement is in response to just the Israeli actors' boycott, not the letter from US artists]. While PACBI is clear they "welcome acts of protest against any manifestation of Israel’s regime of colonialism and apartheid," they do raise some important questions about the boycott, and what the protesters might be ignoring.

#BDS: UK, London: Ahava Protest, 11th September

#BDS: US artists’ support for settlement boycott spreading fast

NEW YORK – Over 150 American artists, including actresses Julianne Moore and Cynthia Nixon, playwright Tony Kushner and writer Wallace Shawn, have signed a letter in support of Israeli actors who refuse to perform in the West Bank.

Backed by the San Francisco-based Jewish Voice for Peace, the letter states that the settlement in Ariel is “clearly illegal,” and that any performance in the West Bank city’s new cultural center would have the effect, intentional or otherwise, of legitimizing Israel’s claim to what they refer to as occupied territory.

“It’s thrilling to think that these Israeli theatre artists have refused to allow their work to be used to normalize a cruel occupation which they know to be wrong, which violates international law and which is impeding the hope for a just and lasting peace for Israelis an [sic] Palestinians alike,” the letter reads.

“They’ve made a wonderful decision, and they deserve the respect of people everywhere who dream of justice. We stand with them.”

The letter’s signatories include actors Ed Asner and Mandy Patimkin, actress Vanessa Redgrave, playwright Eve Ensler and director Harold Prince.

The idea to write the letter came from Israeli artists, Jewish Voice for Peace director Rebecca Vilkomerson told
The Jerusalem Post.

#BDS: CARE Board Member Takes Leave of Absence over Employer’s Support for Israeli Settlements

A member of the board of directors of the leading international

humanitarian aid organization CARE USA has taken a voluntary

leave of absence from CARE's board due to the involvement of his

employer, Africa Israel, in Israeli settlement activities. The move

last week came after a July 12 letter to the Atlanta-based non-profit

by the rights group Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott

of Israel that outlined Africa Israel's settlement ties, followed by letters

from Jews Say No, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and CODEPINK, and

meetings and discussions between representatives from CARE and

Adalah-NY and JVP.

Riham Barghouti from Adalah-NY explained, "We thank CARE USA for

acting swiftly to appropriately address this issue once it was brought

to their attention. Representatives from CARE USA told us that they

have approved the Board member's request for an indefinite leave of

absence while he remains in any way affiliated with Africa Israel. While

on leave, we have been assured that the member in question will not

attend or vote at Board meetings, receive Board information, or play any

other role on the CARE USA Board."


VISUALS: Giant petition to be signed by speakers; Posters of campaign logo
LOS ANGELES, CA (Sept.7) --Californians committed to peace and justice for Palestine-Israel will launch the statewide campaign of California ballot Initiative 10-0020 with a signing ceremony in front of the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles on Wednesday, September 8, 2010.  Although California has adopted policies requiring divestment from SudanIran and other nations, this is the first ballot measure in the nation aimed at changing Israeli policies through divestment by State agencies. It directs California’s large public employee and teacher pension funds to be consistent with their responsible investing policies and to divest from companies that violate the human rights of Palestinians. The description provided by the office of the Attorney General when it approved the measure for circulation says that the initiative “prohibits state retirement funds from investing in companies engaged in certain business activities in Israel.”
WHEN: NOON, Wednesday, September 8, 2010
WHERE: In front of the Israeli Consulate, 6380 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
WHY:  Launch Ballot Initiative Drive to Require Public Employee Retirement Systems to Divest from Certain Business Activities in Israel
WHO: Shakeel Syed, Executive Director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California;  Rev. Dr. DarELL T. Weist retired, Senior Minister United Methodist Church of Los Angeles; Yael Korin, Israeli-American researcher; Mahmood Ibrahim, Palestinian-American Professor of History, California State Polytechnic University Pomona; Rosie Martinez, labor activist, Latino Caucus, SEIU 721; and Andy Griggs, retired teacher LAUSD, STRS members, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) activist.