Sep 22, 2010

#BDS: Ahava Complicit in the Sins of Occupation

Walk into any Ricky's store, a beauty shop chain in New York, and you will find a shelf filled with Ahava products. For $28, you can buy mineral toning cleanser; for $22, Dead Sea liquid salt; and for $9, purifying mud soap. The products made by Ahava (which means "love" in Hebrew) seem innocent enough, perfectly enticing for anyone fond of beauty products.
But looks can be deceiving. As activists from the peace group CodePink's Stolen Beauty campaign are fond of chanting at protests, Ahava can't hide its "dirty side."
For nearly two years, an international campaign spearheaded by Palestine solidarity activists has targeted Ahava and the various stores that carry its products, including Ricky's, calling for a boycott. The boycott campaign has heated up recently, eliciting push-back from Jewish organizations around the country and a response from the CEO of Ahava.

#BDS: Port Townsend Food Co-op board rejects Israeli boycott proposal

The Port Townsend Food Co-op board Tuesday voted 4 to 2 to reject a proposed boycott of products made in Israel.
After listening to more than 50 co-op members speak passionately for and against the proposal, the board approved a motion stating that the proposal was inconsistent with the co-op’s boycott policy.
The board concluded that policy does not allow the co-op to take a stand on issues involving countries.
“We are not in the business, fundamentally, of adjudicating international issues,” said board member Rick Sepler.
“That is [just] not the business the co-op is in,” said board member Steve Moore, adding, “It is not why we were elected.”
Board President Sam Gibboney and board member Janet Welch joined Sepler and Moore in rejecting the boycott proposal while board members Dan Goldstein and Dorn Campbell voted against the motion by Sepler.
Noting that Sept. 21 is the International Day of Peace, board members briefly tried to reword Sepler’s motion to show support for peace efforts in the Middle East and elsewhere.
When they could not agree on how to amend Sepler’s motion, they left the motion as Sepler had first proposed.

#BDS: Settlement boycott to target Israeli chain store

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority Ministry of National Economy, charged with implementing the boycott of settlement-made goods, announced Tuesday it will be launching a boycott campaign against an Israeli chain of superstores, a statement read. 

The ministry said the Rami Levi Shivok Hashikma chain, which has "spread like cancer" following the opening of new stores in Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. 

Distributors and promoters of Rami Levi products will be prosecuted for adverting or selling their goods in the West Bank, and consumers are encouraged to opt for locally made produce instead, which the ministry said is often "thrown and damaged at checkpoints" instead of being sold in the Israeli market. 

The ministry further said it is working to form a "solid shield" to protect the Palestinian market and vowed to support locally-made goods. 

#BDS: Palestinians to call for boycott of Israeli goods in front of Settlement supermarket

With settlement construction freeze possibly ending soon, protesters will hold a vigil reasserting their continued objection to Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and will call on other Palestinians to not economically cooperate with these settlements.
The Rami Levy supermarket chain has several stores in settlements throughout the West Bank, and carries many settlement products. The chain is popular among some Palestinian shoppers, attracting its clientele through cheap pricing.
The protesters will call on Palestinians to avoid supporting the Occupation and settlements’ economy by boycotting Israeli goods and settlement stores. Demonstrators will also remind Palestinians that Rami Levy, the owner of the supermarket chain, is a member of the Jerusalem municipality, and as such is directly complicit in Jerusalem house demolitions and city-sponsored settler takeovers of Palestinian homes.
Mohammed Khatib, coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee and one of the protest’s organizers, said today that, “The Palestinian market is one of the main export markets for Israel. It is absurd for us to support our own repression in this way, especially when viable alternatives exist. Every Shekel to Rami Levy is a Shekel to the continuation of the Occupation. This must stop.”

#BDS: Eric Walberg On Boycotting Apartheid Israel

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign moves ahead in Washington, California, British Columbia, Harvard and Brown Universities, and the Netherlands, notes Eric Walberg

In July, in Rachel Corrie’s hometown of Olympia, Washington state, the popular Food Co-op announced that no Israeli products would be sold at its two grocery stores. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a principal endorser of this new Israel Divestment Campaign, issued a statement endorsing the boycott. “The Olympia Food Co-op has joined a growing worldwide movement on the part of citizens and the private sector to support by non-violent tangible acts the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination.”

In a surprise move in August, Harvard University divested itself of all its Israel investments, almost $40m worth of shares, including Pharmaceutical Industries, NICE Systems, Check Point Software Technologies, Cellcom Israel and Partner Communications. Initially, Harvard gave no explanation for its actions to the SEC. John Longbrake, spokesman for Harvard, maintained that Harvard has not divested from Israel, that these changes were routine and did not represent a change in policy. But was Harvard in fact caving under BDS calls and trying to do so as quietly as possible to avoid a Zionist backlash? In the past, Harvard has divested from companies for purely political reasons, but they did so publicly. For instance, five years ago, Harvard divested from PetroChina in order to protest China’s actions in Sudan.

#BDS: Boycott Israel and make a difference

The Dutch government should be strongly congratulated on standing up for international law, and stopping five ‘mayors' of illegal Israeli colonies on the West Bank from joining other Israeli mayors in taking part in a professional study tour in the Netherlands in October. All 40 mayors have since cancelled their trips. The Dutch approach is logical: these colonies are illegal and the authorities who oversee them are breaking international law and taking part in the continuing brutal occupation of Palestine. They should not be included in the accepted international network of communities.
Such checks to Israeli arrogance may seem small, but thousands of such actions will add up to a ringing international condemnation of terror. Israel has become accustomed to being the supreme military power in the region: its forces act without restraint; it arrests whoever it wants with little reference to law; and it continues programmes of collective punishment on the Palestinian civilian population with horrifying consequences. It feels that it can do what it wants without fear of retribution or consequence.
As part of this arrogance, the Netanyahu government has a policy of continuing to support the illegal colonies. As it goes through the motions of the direct talks with the Palestinians, it is not talking of withdrawing from any Palestinian land, nor is it talking of knocking down any buildings. In fact, it is talking of ending the moratorium and starting to build yet more colonies.
In response to this situation, 180 Palestinian organisations and unions have called for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Apartheid Israel. This BDS movement deserves widespread support and all people should be encouraged to join in. The Trades Union Congress in Britain passed some powerful motions in support of the BDS movement at its annual meeting this week. Around the world, people in all walks of life have the opportunity to show they reject Israel's occupation.

#BDS: Groups set boycott of Israeli troupe in N.Y.

Two New York-based human rights groups have organized a boycott of performances by Israel’s national dance company.
Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel and the New York chapter of Artists Against Apartheid announced the boycott in an open letter to the Batsheva Dance Company, which is scheduled to perform in New York from Sept. 21 to Oct. 3.
The letter said the groups were calling the boycott because of the company’s “collaboration with the Israeli state and its Brand Israel campaign.” Brand Israel is a government public relations initiative designed to reshape preconceived notions about Israel.
“Batsheva continues to affirm its relationship with the Brand Israel campaign, as evidenced by the funding you receive from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the co-sponsorship of your New York performances by the Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel in New York,” the letter contended.
The groups said that the boycott is part of the growing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement.
“We hope that one day soon Batsheva will take a strong, unequivocal stance against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and in support of justice and equality for all,” the letter said. “Until then, we will continue to urge a popular boycott of your performances in New York City and elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, renowned architect Frank Gehry and conductor Daniel Barenboim signed a letter in support of an Israeli artists’ boycott of performing in the West Bank. They join some 200 signatories, including actors Ed Asner, Cynthia Nixon, Mandy Patinkin and Theodore Bikel, and playwright Tony Kushner.
The statement was drafted earlier this month by Jewish Voices for Peace, which praised the “brave decision” by Israeli theater professionals not to perform in Ariel.

#BDS: The science ambassador

At a recent dinner with the British envoy, the emphasis was on the British-Israel Research Exchange program, which came as a partial response to the boycott calls in the UK.

Only two days after his arrival in Israel to take up his post as the British ambassador last week, Matthew Gould hosted a small dinner at his residence to honor the work of BIRAX, the British-Israel Research Exchange program which was set up just two years ago. In his opening remarks, Gould emphasized the importance of focusing on scientific links, especially in a period when voices are continuously heard supporting an academic boycott of Israel amongst a small, but radical and vociferous, group of British academics.

The BIRAX program, which is mostly funded by private donors in the UK has already been responsible for bringing small groups of highlevel scientists from the two countries together. The respective ambassadors, Ron Prosor in 
London and Tom Philips in Israel (Gould’s predecessor) were active in bringing their respective governments into the project. In terms of scientific funding, the projects are small scale, but they serve to bring scientists together to discuss ideas and share knowledge as a means of creating larger project proposals which are then submitted to the international funding agencies.

As was clear from the participants at the dinner, it also enables, as an offspin of the scientific endeavor, researchers from both countries to visit each other and get a better understanding of the complexities of the social and political situations within which each, but especially the Israeli scholars, live and work. While the projects are not intended to directly influence the political beliefs of the scholars, it is clear that the joint meetings and discussions enables a more balanced understanding of the complexities of the situation in Israel, vastly different to the one which has been disseminated by the pro-boycott faculty in the UK.

#BDS: Frank Gehry, Daniel Barenboim join Ariel boycott campaign

Boycott statement has been signed by over 200 artists, including Jennifer Tilly, James Schamus, Tony Kushner, Harold Prince and others.

World-renowned architect Frank Gehry and the legendary pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim joined Tuesday the international campaign in support of the Israeli actors' refusal to perform in the new cultural center of Ariel, according to the website of Jewish Voices for Peace.
The boycott statement has been signed by over 200 artists, including Jennifer Tilly, James Schamus, Tony Kushner, Harold Prince and others.
Gehry, the architect of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, recently pulled out of desiging the Museum of Tolerance planned to be built in Jerusalem on the site of an ancient Muslim cemetery.
Cecilie Surasky, Jewish Voice for Peace Deputy Director, commended Gehry for his support.
“It is particularly critical for architects to speak out against the ongoing construction of Jewish-only communities on Palestinian land," she said, adding that "architects and planners are the key implementers of the Israeli policy of taking and brutally occupying Palestinian land in violation of international law. For Mr. Gehry to take such a moral stand once and for all ends the mythical firewall between architecture, policy, and human rights."

#BDS: UMass Boston Faculty Call on TIAA-CREF to Divest from Israeli Occupation

September 20, 2010 – Faculty and staff at the University of Massachusetts Boston asked the non-profit investment firm TIAA-CREF to divest its holdings from companies that do business with the Israeli Occupation at the company CEO’s public address on campus last Monday.

Faculty presented TIAA-CREF CEO Roger Ferguson with a letter requesting that the firm withdraw its funds from five companies that arm and profit from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.  These five companies are:  Caterpillar, whose bulldozers Israel uses to demolish Palestinian homes; Motorola, which manufactures the surveillance equipment Israel uses in its vast network of checkpoints in the West Bank and in tandem with its Separation Wall; Elbit Systems, which manufactures drones used to kill Palestinian civilians; Veolia, a company hired to design a light rail system to connect the illegal settlements proliferating in the West Bank with one another as well as with Jerusalem, and Northrup Grumman, which manufactures weapons, missiles, and helicopter parts.  

The letter was signed by 80 UMass Boston faculty and staff.  It was presented during the question and answer period following Ferguson’s address.  A faculty member spoke on behalf of the letter’s signatories, asking Ferguson how he reconciled his company’s commitment to serving the greater good with its investment in these five companies.  He responded that he is accountable to all of his clients and is currently in the phase of “listening” to hear what investors on all sides of the issue have to say.

To see video of the letter presentation and question to Ferguson, click here:

To read the letter the faculty and staff presented to Ferguson, click here:

This action is part of the growing international movement demanding corporate accountability for complicity in Israeli human rights abuses and violations of international law.  It was undertaken in solidarity with the campaign launched by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) in June, which calls on TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation.

To find out more about the JVP campaign, see:

To add your name to the JVP petition calling on TIAA-CREF to divest from these companies, see:

To learn more about the international movement calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel, see: - site of the global BDS movement; you can read the call for BDS here - site of the Palestinian campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel