Sep 17, 2010

#BDS: Chicagoan arrested calling for boycott of Israel’s Guantanamo

Protest at the Chicago Sister Cities annual International Festival

Chicago, IL - Chicago police at downtown Millennium Park arrested an activist who was participating in a protest organized by the Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago, Aug. 23. At the Chicago Sister Cities annual International Festival, more than 30 activists protested Israel’s inclusion in the program and called for the cutting of Chicago ties with Israeli apartheid.
The activist was arrested while the protest was ending outside of the International Festival tent. The protesters were on their way out when the police began shoving the activists and grabbed the young Arab male protester and placed him under arrest.
Minutes earlier, after picketing and chanting directly outside of the front entrance of the tent, activists brought the message into the actual venue. Protesters chanted in the tent for a few minutes to make the message clear: “Drop Petach Tikva!” - Chicago’s sister city in Israel. The pianist who was performing in the hall at the time stood at attention out of respect once he heard the protesters’ message.

#BDS: August 12 Olympia Center forum on the Oly Food Co-op boycott

I remember when I first learned of the conflict in Israel/Palestine. I was a child, about the age of 10, sitting in the living room of my Palestinian friend's home. They were discussing how they missed and feared for their families who were still in Palestine; about how their family's farm had been destroyed, their lands taken, and their home demolished, again. I remember wondering how anyone could do such a horrible thing to such wonderful people. I was not able to understand why nothing was being done to stop these atrocities.

Over thirteen years have gone by since that day, and since then I have been involved in Palestinian solidarity work in a number of different ways. I have lobbied the government, protested in the streets, participated in dialogues, as well as other forms of non-violent action. As the years went on, I watched as multiple peace talks failed. I watched as countless UN resolutions and international laws were broken. It slowly became very clear to me that all of these efforts seemed to make no tangible difference in the policies of the Israeli government towards the Palestinian people.

I began to seriously question the strategies that I had been using and began to search for a viable alternative, an alternative that has been proven to work in the past to bring about social change. I also knew that whatever the alternative was, it had to be a strategy that allowed me, an ordinary citizen, to take matters into my own hands. This factor was especially important to me because we are living in a country whose government has remained complacent on these issues. That is when I first learned about the Global BDS movement. The Global BDS movement has been gaining momentum since July 9, 2005 when a group of over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations issued a call for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) towards the state of Israel until the government of Israel chooses to comply with international law and end its occupation of Palestine. The movement is based upon the success of the BDS movement to end South African apartheid. Since the call was issued, thousands of individuals and organizations have endorsed the call including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and several others.

#BDS: No matzo, no peace

Matzo and bath salts are stirring up controversy over at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, where a fraction of its 12,000 owner-members is moving to boycott products that come from Israel.
The boycott is being pushed by the Sacramento Boycott, Divestments, Sanctions Working Group. The group says the boycott would end when Israel stops its Gaza blockade, exits the West Bank, grants Arab Israelis the same rights as Jewish Israelis and lets Palestinian refugees return.
More than anything, the controversy is a war of symbols, as the half-dozen Israeli brands that would be affected constitute less than 1 percent of SNFC inventory.
“If we can stop carrying products tested on animals, surely we can stop carrying products that violate human rights,” activist and Co-op member Maggie Coulter said at a meeting of the Co-op board on September 7.
That meeting drew two dozen people to the Co-op on Alhambra Boulevard, where boycott backers accused Israel of creating a system of apartheid for Palestinians. They said rather than support the nation by buying its goods, the store should do its part in pressuring Israel to make concessions to Palestine.
Opponents questioned the legality of a boycott, which would alienate Jewish customers and set a double standard for other human-rights violators, including China and countries in Africa and the Mideast. Besides, they said, the board should stick to managing SNFC finances and leave the politicking to President Barack Obama.

#BDS: Eminent Scholar Ann Stoler Endorses Boycott of Israel

Below is a statement released by Ann Stoler in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement aimed at Israel:
As someone who has worked for some thirty years as a teacher and student of colonial studies– on comparative colonial situations, colonial histories, and the violent and subtle forms of governance on which colonial regimes rely, it would be difficult not to describe the Israeli state as a colonial one. It would be difficult not to recognize Israel’s past and ongoing illegal seizure of Palestinian land, the racialization of every aspect of daily life, and the large-scale and piecemeal demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of livelihoods, and efforts to destroy the social and family fabric, as decimation by concerted and concentrated colonial design. These are the well-honed practices of regimes that define colonialisms and have flourished across the imperial globe. As with other colonial regimes, the Israeli state designates and redraws geographic borders, suspends Palestinian civil rights and arbitrarily transgresses what for Israelis are recognized and guarded as private space.