Sep 24, 2010

#BDS: Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC) holds press conference in Los Angeles

The Israel Divestment Campaign, led by US Campaign Steering Committee Member Shakeel Syed, held a press conference to announce its "Divestment of State Retirement Funds From Israel Act" in California, which is the first BDS ballot measure in the US to target Israeli occupation at the state government level.

See video below.

#BDS: Letter from Gaza Academics and Students: Eight American Universities Normalize Occupation, Colonization and Apartheid!

At a time when the Israeli ongoing crimes against us the Palestinians are at their most visible, their most documented and their most condemned by civil society around the world, we were shocked to learn of the plans by the Universities of Harvard, Columbia, Michigan, Maryland, Florida, Washington, Miami and New Jersey City to offer semester long free programs to American students in Israel at the Jerusalem Hebrew University, Haifa University, The Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center and Carmiel.[1]

Where do we Palestinian students fit into these plans? How are we supposed to believe that such reputed US academic institutions abide by their own codes of conduct when they embrace Israeli academic institutions that contribute on various fronts to the ongoing injustices committed against us each day? The very institutions that remained quiet while their government for three weeks over the New Year of 2009 dropped white phosphorous bombs over us in Gaza, killed over 1443 civilians, including 430 children, bombed our hospitals, roads and bridges and violently attacked an array of our own educational institutions?

Facts speak for themselves: more than 37 primary and secondary schools including 18 schools serving as shelters for the internally displaced were hit, the American International school was turned to rubble, and four buildings of the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) demolished.[2] Israeli claims that the IUG's science laboratories were used "to make weapons" was categorically refuted by forensic evidence. There is on the other hand no dispute about the American origin of the F15s, F16s, and Apache helicopters used to bomb and kill the 1443 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians according to the UN Goldstone report [3] and every other human rights report. No dispute on the use of white phosphorous, ‘flechette’ nail bombs and tungsten, all deemed illegal by International Human Rights law and the Geneva Conventions.  The Goldstone report listed count after count of international law contraventions, Israeli “war crimes” and “possible crimes against humanity,” not that we should need such a qualification given the horrific numbers of children and women slaughtered in the attack, or crippled thereafter. 

Moreover, the collaboration between Israel’si academy and its military and intelligence services has now reached the point of establishing strategic studies institutions, think tanks and entire security studies departments and institutes, many of which are located at or affiliated with the universities involved in this collaboration.
This might explain why Israeli academic Institutions have for so long remained silent on the crimes their state is committing. A report released by the Alternative Information Center in October 2009 titled “Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories”[4] concludes that, "Israeli academic institutions have not opted to take a neutral,apolitical position toward the Israeli occupation but to fully support the Israeli security forces and policies toward the Palestinians, despite the serious suspicions of crimes and atrocities hovering over them."

All the Israeli universities were found to be involved in supporting the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank in a myriad of ways. The report describes how 2 of the potential partner institutions to the 8 US Universities; Haifa and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have sponsored various academic programs for Israeli military reserves, granted scholarships to students who served in the Israeli attack on Gaza, and maintain ties to leading Israeli weapons manufacturers. One of the two campuses of the Hebrew University was built in occupied East Jerusalem, in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In contrast, the ongoing Israeli siege has shattered Gaza’s education system. There is a dire shortage of books and educational equipment, prevented from entering the Gaza Strip. Students awarded scholarships to universities abroad continue to be blockaded within the strip turning their deserved prospects of academic achievement into a lost dream. Within Gaza, those seeking an education are limited by increasing poverty rates and a scarcity of fuel for transportation, again direct results of Israel’s medieval siege.

Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands is the most enduring since WWII. The Israeli Occupation Forces have demolished over 24,000 Palestinian homes [5] since 1967 and continue this policy in the name of expansion of Jewish neighborhoods at the expense of the local Palestinian Arab population. Israel is in full violation of UN Security Council resolution 242[6] by occupying Palestinian lands, UNSC resolution 194[7] by denying the 7 million Palestinian refugees their right to return to their homes, the Geneva Conventions Article 49[8] by settling these occupied lands and article 33[9] through its current collective punishment of 1.5 million Gazans placed under a siege denounced by the European Union, the United Nations and all Human Rights groups, but ongoing nevertheless. Since the United Nations in 1948, dominated by the colonial powers of the era, agreed to Israel’s founding on the ruins of Palestinian refugees and the destruction of 531 Palestinian towns and villages[10], Israel has since violated more United Nations Resolutions than any other UN member state.[11]

Most recently the UN Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission on the Freedom Flotilla raid[12] has concluded that Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory was unlawful due to the humanitarian crisis there and that during and after the raid, Israeli forces committed, “a series of violations of international law, including international and human rights law,” including, “willful killing and torture”. The report concluded that, “The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel toward the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality.”

The U.S. in theory has some of the strictest arms export laws.  On arms and human rights, Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act[13]mandates that "no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights." Yet the US continues to give 6 billion $ of aid and weapons grants to Israel every year, more than is received by the entire continent of Africa.

In light of these ongoing, yet unanswered crimes and in the immediate aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, the United States Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USCABI)[14] was launched. Based on the 2004 call issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)[15], and the Palestinian Boycotts Divestment (BDS) call of 2005[16], the movement has grown relentlessly. Today, over 500 US-based academics have endorsed their call for boycotts of Israeli Academic Institutions, a show of conscience and moral duty the 8 US Universities in question are encouraged to follow. Writers such as Johan Berger, Archbishop Desmund Tutu, Arundhati Roy, Ahdaf Soueif, universities, trade unions, companies, and international artists including Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, the Pixies, Carlos Santana, Ken Loach and Massive Attack have all joined the BDS movement.

This boycott, modeled upon the global BDS movement that put an end to South African apartheid, is to continue until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

We demand boycotts of Israel until it complies with international law, and until justice and accountability are reached. Like the Blacks of South Africa and African Americans, we can never accept compromise on basic human rights.

The history of American academic institutions against apartheid is telling. During the South African divestment efforts, Columbia University disinvested from the Apartheid regime as early as 1978 after a major student mobilization. Harvard University on the other hand did not disinvest until the final year of Apartheid in 1989. The consensus since has fortunately proved that until the last the latter institution stood on the wrong side of history. There is now an opportunity to cut all ties with Israeli academia, to join the call for boycotts of what the United Nations Special Rapporteur John Dugard described as the only remaining case after South Africa, “of a Western-affiliated regime that denies self-determination and human rights to a developing people and that has done so for so long.”[17]

Given Israeli academia’s entrenched involvement in such a long-running subjugation of a people along medieval lines of race and religion, we would expect the US institutions and all those around the world to follow the call of Archbishop Desmond Tutu; to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israeli Academic Institutions. Normalizing and accepting another apartheid regime and Israel’s full spectrum of well documented crimes against humanity is a threat to justice anywhere, and another wretched endorsement of denying basic human rights from us, the expelled, imprisoned, and still grieving Palestinians. We hope that these institutions will reconsider their decision.

Besieged Gaza,

University Teachers’ Association in Palestine (UTA)
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)


Supported by: Professors Kader Asmal, Allan Boesak, Breyten Breytenbach, John
Dugard, Antjie Krog, Mahmood Mamdani, Barney Pityana and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

As members of the academic community of South Africa, a country with a history of brute
racism on the one hand and both academic acquiescence and resistance to it on the
other, we write to you with deep concern regarding the relationship between the University
of Johannesburg (UJ) and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The relationship
agreement, presented as ‘merely the continuation’ of a ‘purely scientific co-operation’ is
currently being reviewed owing to concerns raised by UJ students, academics and staff.
As academics we acknowledge that all of our scholarly work takes place within larger social
contexts – particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African
institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era
with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of ‘purely
scholarly’ or ‘scientific work’.
The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has had disastrous effects on access
to education for Palestinians. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and
schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for
maintaining the occupation. BGU is no exception, by maintaining links to both the Israeli
Defense Force (IDF) and the arms industry BGU structurally supports and facilitates the
Israeli occupation. An example of BGU’s complicity is its agreement with the IDF to provide
full university qualification to army pilots within a special BGU programme. Furthermore,
BGU is also complicit in the general discrimination at Israeli universities against
Palestinians and Palestinian citizens of Israel.
It is clear to us that any connection with an institution so heavily vested in the Israeli occupation
would amount to collaboration with an occupation that denigrates the values and
principles that form the basis of any vibrant democracy. These are not only the values
that underpin our post-apartheid South Africa, but are also values that we believe UJ has
come to respect and uphold in the democratic era.
We thus support the decision taken by UJ to reconsider the agreement between itself and
BGU. Furthermore, we call for the relationship to be suspended until such a time that, at
minimum, the state of Israel adheres to international law and BGU, (as did some South
African universities during the struggle against South African apartheid) openly declares
itself against the occupation and withdraws all privileges for the soldiers who enforce it.


#BDS: New pressure on UJ to sever Israel ties

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Unisa vice-chancellor Barney Pityana and author Breyten Breytenbach have added their voices to calls for the University of Johannesburg to sever academic ties with Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The cooperation between the two universities dates from the 1980s, when the local partner was called Rand Afrikaans University. The agreement now under fire involves scientific interaction and was signed in August last year, renewing a controversial apartheid-era collaboration, its critics say.

On Wednesday next week UJ's senate will hear recommendations on the future of the university's ties with Ben-Gurion.

Mail & Guardian reported in May that the senate had debated the matter then and had asked a senate subcommittee headed by deputy vice-chancellor Adam Habib to make recommendations within three months.

"We have concluded our deliberations and arrived at recommendations," Habib told the
M&G. "It has taken a long time because the matter is highly contested. And I can’t say what our senate will decide."

#BDS: France to indict 3 activists who called to boycott settlement goods

Three pro-Palestinians will be trialed in France over their call to boycott Israeli products from the settlements, according to a French judiciary official.

The three are expected to be indicted in the beginning of October for incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence after they organized protests in front of stores they claimed "sold products that were robbed from Palestinians in the occupied territories." Five additional activists were arrested and are expected to be indicted in the end of November. 

#BDS: Israel's settlement industry under boycott pressure

Palestinian activists in the occupied West Bank have called for the boycott of the popular Rami Levy Israeli supermarket chain which has several stores inside Israel's illegal settlements. Activists say they will call on fellow Palestinians to "avoid supporting the occupation and settlements' economy by boycotting Israeli goods and settlement stores."

A vigil was to be held today outside the Rami Levy store inside the Sha'ar Binyamin settlement south of Bethlehem, along Route 60 which connects Jerusalem to settlement blocs in the southern West Bank. Activists with the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) said in a press release that the chain is "popular among some Palestinian shoppers, attracting its clientele through cheap pricing" ("Palestinians to Call for Boycott of Israeli Goods in front of Settlement Supermarket," 22 September 2010).

In its press release, the PSCC stated that "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." 

#BDS: A French MP prosecuted

Dear Friends,
The repression against BDS activists in France is reaching a new scale with the prosecution of a French MP, Alima Boumediene-Thiery (member of the French Senate) who has participated in a BDS action in the Paris region one year ago and who is a supporter of the BDS campaign. Her trial is due to take place in Pontoise (North of Paris) on Thursday October 14. She is accused (like all the other French BDS activists prosecuted) of “incitation to racial hatred” and “discrimination against the Israeli nation”.
The same zionist lobbyist, Sammy Ghozlan is the plaintiff and he is supported by our government that has asked all French judges to condemn the BDS militants. We have exposed this man boasting that he has filed more than 80 complaints as a racist, a fanatic who writes insanities on Israeli settler websites not only against Palestinians but also against Richard Goldstone (“scum” and bastard” according to him) and even against Obama (compared to Pharaon who “transformed the Jewish people into slaves”) because he asked for Israelis to freeze the settlements. For those who can read French you will find interesting and incredible texts he wrote on our website :
This trial involving a member of parliament who can loose the right to be reelected in Parliament if she is condemned is a test, as you can understand. And many people would be happy to get rid of her because she is very active on many various “disturbing” fronts, such as immigrants, islamophobia, the situation in the prisons, and all kind of discriminations and repressive laws. She is also the one who succeeded, when she was a member of the EuroPean Parliament in 2002, in having a vote in favor of the suspension of the commercial agreement between Europe and Israel (giving enormous taxes privileges to Israel) that our governments ignored though it was voted by a majority of the European MPs. She went for missions in Gaza and the Westbank on several occasions and made alarming reports.
In spite of this clearly crucial challenge, we find it very hard right now to mobilize the rest of the BDS movement in France for a real great counter offensive. Most of them keep silent, even many of those who participated in the BDS action with her and who should say “I did it too, sue me !”. We hope this will change and we are calling for protest actions to take place in the whole country before October 14, and for a huge meeting in front of the court the day itself.
We need your help ! Would it be possible for you to organize protests in your respective countries, for example in front of the French Tourist Offices and to send us messages and pictures of support for her. We can send you pictures of Alima Boumedien-Thiery and any other details. (Article in French and photo of Alima on )
Are there any Israeli militants who could come and testify in French courts that the BDS campaign not antisemitic ?
Another trial to take place against us though involving all member organisations of the BDS France Campaign:
I have received summons to appear on 29 October before the court in Paris, for having posted on our website a video showing the BDS action carried out on 4 July 2009 in the Carrefour supermarket in Evry; this is considered as an offence “provoking discrimination, hate or violence towards a group of people belonging to the Israeli nation”.
This video, which can also be viewed on
indicates, at the end of the video, that it was a collective action organised by the BDS France Campaign, having been endorsed by several organisations: Génération Palestine, CCIPPP, NPA, IJAN, the Palestine Committee of Montreuil, CAPJPO-Europalestine, the Villeneuve Collective, and Respaix.
The statements made – which were “criminal”, according to the plaintiff (once again the famous Sammy Ghozlan of the National Bureau of Vigilance against Antisemitism) – were in fact made by persons not members of our association (it was the day after the rampage of our bookstore Resistances by the zionist thugs and we were busy elsewhere) , one of them being the mayor of the village of Al-Masaara in the West Bank, who participated in the action while on a visit in France (his identity is indicated in the video).
It seems clear that the time has come to organize a united and large-scale response to this latest attack. First of all, because the action being targeted is an emblematic action of the BDS campaign in France and is shown to be such: it is indicated in the video that the Carrefour supermarket in question was not selected by chance but because it is in Evry, the home of the headquarters of Carrefour.
And as you may know, this chain of stores :
- puts on sale products with no traceability;
- practises deceit regarding the products’ source (we have proof of that);
- encourages colonisation by selling Soda-Club machines produced in the Maale Adunim colony in the Palestinian territories;
- and files complaints against activists (as in Bordeaux and Mulhouse) who stand up for the rule of law.
Secondly, because it is high time to unite to put an end to these attacks, which:
- hijack the law on discrimination in order to favour war criminals;
- are a grave attack on the freedom of expression;
- and scandalously dare to accuse us of “discrimination” when there is no worse discrimination than that imposed for decades upon the Palestinian people!
We therefore ask all organisations taking part in the BDS campaign (to start with those who organized this action ) :
(1) post the video on their sites. Here are the necessary codes:(you will get them on youtube)
(2) write to the state prosecutor: Monsieur le Procureur de la République près du Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris : Palais de Justice 14, quai des Orfèvres. 75001 Paris, asking to be also judged for this joint action and for publishing the video on the website of each association or party involved, because we are proud of our actions and take responsibility for them.
(3) organise without delay a wide mobilisation to protest against these intolerable measures of repression aimed at those throughout the country who rise up to say NO to the strangulation of a people, NO to the denial of freedom, NO to war crimes, NO to the siege of Gaza.
Not only will this repression not silence us, it will instead generate an increased mobilisation, to bring shame on a government attempting to gag those who do not share its distorted conception of human rights and international law. If we are united, we can make our political leaders regret having chosen the camp of the occupier!
Best regards,

#BDS: !نحن و الراقصة اليهودية

في الوقت الذي تتعرض فيه اسرائيل لحملة متنامية غير مسبوقة من المقاطعة بأشكالها المختلفة ,و بالذات الأكاديمية و الثقافية منها, و بشهادة قادة اسرائيل و مؤسساستها البحثية, بدليل تقرير مؤسسة رؤيا البحثي المقدم لمؤتمر هرتسليا المنصرم, و العدد الكبير للمغنين و الفنانين الذين قرروا الغاء حفلاتهم في اسرائيل بعد مجزرتي غزة و أسطول الحرية و في استجابة واضحة لا لبس فبها لنداء المقاطعة الصادر عن مؤسسات المجتمع المدني الفلسطيني (2005) و الذي يتمتع الان باجماع و طني غير مسبوق, تبرز (ظاهرة) غاية في الغرابة. 

في عددها الصادرة قبل يومين و على صفحتها الألكترونية باللغة الأنجليزية طالعتنا صحيفة يديعوت أحرونوت الاسرائيلية بخبر عنونته كما يلي: (راقصة يهودية تهز الضفة الغربية!) >علامة التعجب من عندي<. و في تقديمها للخبر تقول الصحيفة: (قد يبدو و أن المحادثات بين الأسرائيليين و الفلسطينيين تسير بخطوات متثاقلة, و لكن الحفلات المقامة في الضفة تظهر أن السلام قد وصل!)> و علامة تعجب أخرى من عندي<. و تضيف الصحيفة أن (راقصة غامضة) قد أحدثت ضجة و أصبحت حديث المدينةبعد ظهورها في العديد من حفلات الزواج و تركت الحضور في حالة انبهار. و تتكرم الصحيفة و تضع صورة لراقصة شرقية يطلق عليها فلسطينيو الضفة الغربية لقب (الراقصة اليهودية) و التي رقصت في زفاف في مدينة بيت لحم (المحتلة) و التي تتقاضى 1600 شيكل مقابل كل 15 دقيقة من الرقص الشرقي.

لا شك أنني (مندهش) , ليس من جمال الراقصة أو عدمه, و ليس من (غموضها) حيث أن لا أحد يعرف اسمها, و لكن من التناقض الهائل ما بين ما نعانيه فى غزة, و الضفة أيضا, و (الواقع) الذي يعيشه البعض منا . لست معنيا في الخوض في طبيعة النظم الأخلاقية السائدة و من له (الحق) باطلاق الأحكام و القوانين و فرضها و تحول البعض منا الى حراس فضيلة, و لكني مع ما هو من حد أدنى من حس ليس وطنيا فقط, بل أيضا انساني. ففي الوقت الذي يتم فيه تعبئة الرأي العام العالمي ضد الممارسات الاسرائيلية الابادية ضد قطاع غزة المحاصر و المنكوب, و بعد أقل من سنتين من المجزرة التي أدت, و تبعا لتقارير منظمات حقوق الانسان, الى استشهاد 1434 من بينهم 434 طفل, و بعد أشهر قليلة من ارتكاب اسرائيل مجزرة جديدة بحق ناشطي سلام على متن أسطول الحرية و الذين جاءوا من أعالي البحار لتقديم العون و اظهار أسمى أنواع التضامن, و في نفس الوقت الذي تضاعف فيه اسرائيل مشروعها الاستيطاني في الضقة الغربية و تهود القدس و تطهر عرقيا بعض قرى النقب, يصبح (حديث المدينة) الراقصة اليهودية!

من المعروف ان الحملة الدولية المتنامية لمقاطعة اسرائيل تسترشد بما تطرحه لجنة المقاطعة الوطنية و حملة المقاطعة الأكاديمية و الثقافية لاسرائيل. و من الواضح أن المعايير التي حددتها الحملة للمقاطعة و الموجودة على صفحتها الاليكترونية و التي يسترشد بها الكثير من الفنانين و المغنين الدوليين(أمثال ألفيس كوستيلو, سنتانا, جيل سكوت هيرون , كن لوتش, جون برغر و غيرهم) ,يجب أن تطبق بحذافيرها داخل الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة الا اذا كان هناك من يعتقد أن الضفة الغربية دولة مستقلة ذات سيادة لا حاجة لها للاستجابة لنداء و معايير المقاطعة. 

ذكرتني قصة( الراقصة اليهودية) بالراقصة كوكب في رواية غسان كنفاني رجال في الشمس. و يعلم كل من قرأها أن موت الرجال الثلاثة داخل خزان المياه كان بسبب تلك الراقصة! فهل نتعلم؟

د. حيدر عيد عضو اللجنة التوجيهية لحملة المقاطعة الأكاديمية و الثقافية لاسرائيل