Sep 16, 2010

#BDS: Inauguration of H&M apartheid store

On 26 August 2010, H&M opened its fourth store in the apartheid state of Israel. To mark the occasion, BDS activists in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 8 September protested outside the local H&M flagship store. The protest theme was a satirical inauguration of the new apartheid store, with an inaugural speech, ribbon cutting ceremony, question competition, checkpoint, and flyers.

Ribbon cutting ceremony for H&M apartheid store
Gothenburg, Sweden

Inauguration of H&M apartheid store
Gothenburg, Sweden
Text: Special Offer! Buy into Apartheid.

#BDS: Canada-Israel relationship called shining success of free trade program

TORONTO – Canada’s economic relationship with Israel was held up as a shining example of the success of our free trade program by International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan at a recent luncheon held by the Canada Israel Chamber of Commerce and co-sponsored by Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.
“Canada and Israel have been fortunate to be emerging from this global economic pretty good shape. The free trade agreement between our countries has proven the success of open trade and investment. Our two-way trade...has more than doubled now, reaching $1.3-billion last year," he said.

“As everybody knows, Israel is a leader in science and technology and innovation and, [as for] Canada, we’re pretty proud of our record, as well. And that’s why our collaboration is, in fact, so important.”

Canadian companies such as Research in Motion, Air Canada and Super-Pharm are “building a strong commercial presence” in Israel, while Israeli investors including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ormat Technologies, Amdocs and TheraVitae “have made significant inroads” in Canada.

“We're also making things together for the global marketplace, trading inputs and services back and forth, and becoming part of each other’s value chains.”

The Jewish Tribune asked Van Loan for specific examples. 

“You might find it in medical instruments [where] parts might be manufactured in Canada, some parts might be manufactured in Sweden, some parts in Israel and [they] all come together into one piece.”

When asked about the possibility that Canadian goods manufactured with Israeli parts might be targetted for boycotts by anti-Israel groups, he said, “Individual consumers can make the choices individual consumers want.  We don’t think there is a legitimate basis for any kind of economic boycott of Israel and so we would discourage that. I know there have been efforts over the years to have those kinds of boycotts take place but those have not in any way altered our policies.”

#BDS: Seven Million Back Biggest British Boycott

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At their annual conference this week the TUC, Britain’s all-encompassing trade union coalition, announced their most comprehensive boycott policy yet. It targets settlement goods as well as companies profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. The motion to boycott and disinvest from these companies passed unanimously on behalf of the TUC’s seven million members. The announcement will increase pressure on British retailers to cut ties with suspect suppliers.

#BDS: TUC: UNISON & Palestine

Full text of speech by UNISON delegate Mike Kirby in TUC 2010 Congress Palestine debate

Trade unionists across the world are at the centre of progressive alliances and movements. And in December 2008 as the world watched aghast at the Operation Cast Lead incursion into Gaza and we condemned the actions of Israel, HISTADRUT the Israeli trade union centre, did not join the international chorus of condemnation.

While we respect rights of self determination in solidarity movements across the world sometimes we have a duty to say when they get things wrong.

2009 saw a major shift in both trade union and public opinion on Palestine.

The cause was Gaza and the unprecedented and disproportionate use of force by the Israeli state.

Those events led to an historic vote by Congress, committing the TUC to support a major campaign calling for a ban on goods from illegal Israeli settlements.

And as another round of peace talks continues, the prospects for a real deal will be tested later this month, when Israel reviews its policies on settlements, which continue to colonise the Palestinian Territories, and another generation grows up under occupation.

Can there be a peace, a lasting peace

Without a right of return, Without East Jerusalem

Without an end to Occupation and Colonisation?

The Palestinian people have been suffering for too long at the hands of occupation.

While we hope for a successful outcome to current peace talks, our values as trade unionists and our commitment to solidarity, mean that we cannot stand idly by, while the people of Nablus, Hebron, Jerusalem and Gaza suffer on a daily basis, without homes, without jobs, without basic freedoms, and increasingly without hope.

It is our duty as trade unionists, to offer whatever support we can to end that suffering.

UNISON at all levels, along with others in PSC, is actively involved in developing the campaign to boycott goods from illegal settlements, and to pursue companies involved in the wall and illegal construction.

We strongly support this composite, and welcome the attitude of the General council, which sees this campaign as an ongoing process, that we need to step up.

Shimon Peres, master of the one-liner, put it this way.

He said, “The good news is there is light at the end of the tunnel; the bad news is there is no tunnel.”

We can help concentrate governments’ minds, in building that tunnel towards the light.

On BDS and the possible negative impact upon Palestinians, I was part of an STUC delegation last year, we were told by the PA Minister, “The boycott may affect 20% of those Palestinians in employment in construction and service industries.

They don't work in export industries. For the sake of the political issue of our land, we can afford the economic sacrifice.”

#BDS: 8 US universities launch study programs in Israel

Top American universities to offer students one semester study-abroad programs. Project conceived by MASA in an effort to draw more foreign students to Israeli academic institutions

Israel is trying to draw more American students: eight leading universities in the United States will launch study-abroad programs in Israel this year.

The programs will send American students from participating universities to one- semester in the Jewish state, and grant them credit points that will be recognized by American universities.

Harvard University, Columbia University, New Jersey City University, University of Florida and University of Michigan will collaborate with Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

The University of Maryland will join efforts with Haifa University; Washington University will cooperate with The Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya (IDC), and Miami University will launch a program in Carmiel.

#BDS: NBA superstars discover Judaism

Shaq asks Omri Casspi 'how are you?' in Hebrew, LeBron James seeks financial advice from rabbi, Kobe Bryant wants to visit Israel, and Amare Stoudemire spent time in Holy Land searching for his 'Jewish roots.' Sports analyst: Trend spreading throughout entire US

When Omri Casspi became the first Israeli to play in the National Basketball Association, he never imagined his Hebrew would come in handy.

Shaquille O'Neal asked Casspi, "Shalom, ma shlomcha (how are you?)" and even said in front of the TV cameras, "Baruch Hashem, Shana Tova."

The veteran superstar joined a long list of NBA players who have discovered Kabbalah, Judaism and Israel. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers recently said, "I want to visit Israel," and he is not the first to do so.

LeBron James, considered the best NBA player along with Bryant, sought the financial advice of Rabbi Yishayahu Yosef Pinto; former Knicks shooting guard Alan Houston has visited Israel twice in the past year; and Amare Stoudemire, who signed a $100 million deal with the Knicks over the summer, recently visited the Holy Land in search of his "Jewish roots."

#BDS: K’s Choice shuns boycott calls, rocks Tel Aviv again

Belgian band back in Israel for two shows despite boycott calls, says local crowd ‘best in world’

Making a statement: For the second time in four months, Belgian band K’s Choice traveled to Israel for two shows, despite boycott calls.

Back in May, the band’s bass player Eric Grossman referred to English singer Elvis Costello as a "douchebag" for calling off his concerts in Israel. Grossman wrote on his Facebook page: "Well done. You're an idiot. Ditto to Santana, Bono, and all the other self important ego-maniacs, who think the Israeli people don't deserve their presence."

Playing to a sold-out crowd in Tel Aviv Tuesday night, Singer Sarah Bettens said the band resisted calls to boycott the latest shows, and vowed to return to Israel in the future. The concert featured several unique moments highlighting the band’s great affection for its Israeli fans.

#BDS: Sign the Petition: Ban Israel from the London 2012 Olympics

To: International Olympics Committee
Dear International Olympics Committee (IOC)
We, the undersigned citizens of the world, call on the international Olympics Committee to rescind Israel’s participation in the London 2012 Olympics.
Israel’s attack on a humanitarian aid fleet on Monday 31 May 2010, its murder of 9 human rights activists in international waters, and wounding many more, demonstrate that Israel rejects the structural tenets of our shared humanity, manifested in a global moral consensus and international law.
Israel was established on the ruins of another country, Palestine. In 1948 more than half the population of Palestine were uprooted from their cities and villages, 400 of which were completely destroyed. The state of Israel has never allowed Palestinian refugees to return and today their number has reached 7 million, many of whom are still stateless, living in refugee camps in Palestine and other Arab countries
Since its establishment the state of Israel has consistently violated international law. To date, it has defied 246 UN Security Council Resolutions. As a direct consequence, seven million Palestinians are excluded from the right to live on land internationally acknowledged to be theirs; and increasingly, they are being excluded from their right to any future at all as a nation. The 4 million Palestinians in the occupied territories have endured over 40 years of brutal occupation and denied even the most basic Human rights. The 1.4 million who remain in Israel are second class citizens.
The daily brutality of the Israeli army in Gaza and the West Bank continues; Palestinian land continues to be stolen, houses demolished and crops destroyed. For years now the state of Israel has been carrying out a slow genocide in the Gaza Strip, maintaining a tight blockade over its inhabitants and repeated bombing raids all of which are contrary to International Laws which prohibit collective punishment.
The Israeli military used white phosphorus munitions in the 2008-2009 Gaza war. The IDF acknowledged it’s use after the war ended.
Several reports from human right groups during the war indicated that white phosphorus shells were being used by Israel in violation of international law. Human Rights Watch said shells exploded over populated civilian areas, including a crowded refugee camp, a UN compound where food was stored, and a United Nations school where civilians were seeking refuge.
Human Rights Watch said its experts in the region had witnessed the use of white phosphorus. Kenneth Roth, the organisation’s executive director, added: “This is a chemical compound that burns structures and burns people. It should not be used in populated areas.”
Amnesty International said a fact-finding team found “indisputable evidence of the widespread use of white phosphorus” in crowded residential areas of Gaza City and elsewhere in the territory. Donatella Rovera, the head of an Amnesty fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza, said: “Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.”
“Israel’s policy on settlements is not only unlawful, it also impacts severely on the human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the constructions taking place on occupied Palestinian land,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other prominent South Africans have likened the situation of the Palestinians to apartheid for which South Africa were banned from international sporting events including the Olympic Games.
The challenge of apartheid was fought with the non-violent international response of a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions. Today Palestinian artists, trade unionists, teachers, writers, film-makers and non-governmental organisations have called for a comparable boycott of Israel, as offering another path to a just peace, saying, ì At a time when the international movement to isolate Israel is gaining ground in response to the escalation of Israel’s violently colonial and racist policies, we respectfully urge conscientious organisations, sportsmen, academics, artists and intellectuals from around the world, including those who visit [or host Israeli's from] the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), to refrain from visiting [or hosting] Israel to participate in any event or encounter that is not explicitly dedicated to ending Israel’s illegal occupation and other forms of oppression. Regardless of intentions, such visits only contribute to the prolongation of injustice by normalizing and thereby legitimizing it, and inadvertently support Israel’s efforts to appear as a “normal” participant in the “civilized” world of sport, science, scholarship and art while at the same time practising a pernicious form of apartheid against Palestinians.î This call has been endorsed by some brave Israeli dissidents and many prominent international figures.
Boycott is a tactic which allows people, as distinct from their elected governments, to apply pressure on those wielding power in an unjust way. It is directed not against people but against oppressive and unjust policies and regimes in order to bring about change. I would also remind you that Principle 2 of the Olympic Charter declares the principles of Olympism to ìplace sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignityî. Also principle 5 which states “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion,
politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” Clearly the acts of genocide against Palestinians and the forcing out by the illegal expansion of the settlements is a violation of this principle. By your own words in Principle 6 “Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC.” As Israel are not compliant how can they then participate under the current conditions that Palestinians are faced with? Particularly considering that “The name of an NOC must reflect the territorial extent and tradition of its country…” However many Israelis are living on disputed land and therefore Israeli athletes cannot be considered to be from the legitimate territorial extent of their country.
Contrary to Olympic Charter bye-laws stating “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas” you will; by allowing Israel to participate and not taking a stand against their racist policies; be implicitly supporting war crimes, ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and continued oppression of the Palestinian people, a people seeking to end the silence of the international community and achieve a just peace. The Israeli politicians and citizens see every visit to and from Israel as an act of support for their policies. Every cancellation is a reminder to them that all is not well and that there will be a price for the ongoing oppression and the indifference for rights of Palestinians.
If you require more information about the situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories, organisations such as Amnesty International, the World Health Organisation and the Israeli human rights organisation BíTselem have published detailed reports.
We feel sure that, in the light of the information available, you would not wish to lend support ñ however indirect and implicit ñ to Israelís policies, by allowing them to attend and participate in such a high profile event that aims to be ìa force for goodî.
Click here to sign petition

#BDS: Australian call to boycott grows

More Australian unions have issued strong statements condemning the Israeli occupation and blockade of Gaza, and joining the Palestinian call for boycott.  The Victorian Trades Hall Council and RTBU Queensland Branch added their union’s strength to the BDS call.  TheMaritime Union Queensland Branch issued a strong statement calling to end the illegal blockade of Gaza.  The latest CFMEU Western Australia journal has written about the recent visit of Diana Buttu to their union.
In international union news, the British trade unions have taken their BDS campaign one step further with a resolution to boycott companies “profiteering” from the Israeli Occupation. Canadian postal workers have found an innovative way to get mail to Gaza, following the Israeli Post Office’s embargo on delivering postal services to the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian unions have pledged their support for a boycott of settlement goods.  Palestinian journalistsin Gaza call for the IFJ, currently visiting their Palestinian counterparts in the West Bank, to not forget to visit Gaza as well.
View the AUSPalestine NEWS page  for this latest September news.
The AUSPalestine EVENTS page also has photos of an Australian firefighter visiting his Palestinian colleagues recently in Nablus and Gaza.  Stuart was greatly impressed by the dedication and professionalism of his Palestinian counterparts, and also managed to pay a visit to an injured firefighter in Gaza.