Oct 26, 2010

#BDS: Dear Chilean miners, please do not accept Israel's invitation

Dear Survivors of the Chilean Mine Trap,
You do not know me. I am just an American blogger/peace actvist who has followed your heroic efforts to survive your 69 day ordeal and the heroic efforts to save you. With wonder I watched as you were brought up one by one to freedom from your underground hell, where for so long you did not know if you would live or die. Indeed the whole world watched as you were rescued in thunderous joy that you would be reunited with your loved ones who had sat vigil for you for so long, insisting you were alive, insisting the rescue effort keep on, praying together for your safety. The entire world rejoices in your safe return above ground to your loved ones.

Now it is your time to recover from your ordeal, to readjust to above ground living with all the physical aspects that entails as well as the emotional ones. Yet people who wish to somehow attach themselves to your rescue and what they see as your celebrity status are now issuing public invitations for you to visit them.

Beware the Trojan horse bearing gifts. For their all-expense paid trip invitations are being issued with their own interest and image at heart.

Today I read that you have received an invitation from the Israeli Tourist Ministry to visit the Holy Land where Christianity began, where the holiest of Christian sites are located. They have offered to pay for your entire trip there, for you to visit "Israel". They are offering you this trip at Christmas time as a "gift to you"

I am asking you please to not accept this invitation. You are not just being invited to visit "Israel", you are being asked to visit holy sites which have been under the Israeli occupation of Palestine for 42 years, sites that Palestinian Christians are routinely denied access to by their occupier.

In June the Vatican issued a paper deploring the denial of access to Christians to the holy sites under occupation, calling the occupation "unjust".

You would be taken to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in occupied East Jerusalem which Israel routinely denies access to for Christian Palestinians. You would also be taken to Bethlehem, the birth place of Christ, which has been under Israeli occupation for 42 years. Nearby is the home of Daoud Nassar's Tent of Nations which is continually under threat of demolition by Israel.

Christian Palestinians suffer just as horrifically under the occupation as do their fellow Muslim Palestinians.

For this reason the Kairos Declaration was issued which calls for an end to the 42 year long occupation of Palestine which is in direct violation of international law.

#BDS: Police repress convergence on UK weapons factory

As Israeli warplanes flew over Gaza on 13 October, activists converged on Brighton, United Kingdom for the annual mass action against the local EDO/ITT factory that produces components used in weapons by the Israeli Air Force, amongst others, to devastating effect.

Faces clad, dozens of protesters attempted to break through police lines. Outnumbered by police three to one, the activists were chased down, detained and arrested. The surreal background symphony continued: photographers' flashes, stubborn traffic attempting to worm its way through police lines, the chants of "Free Palestine!" and the unmistakable sound of a police chopper circling overhead.

The campaign against EDO/ITT is now in its sixth year and this was the fifth convergence of its kind. The British police's heavy-handed crackdown on the action should perhaps be no surprise given the success of past Smash EDO convergences and the ongoing weekly protests against the factory. The repression began in the early hours of the morning as dozens of activists sleeping in an accommodation center in Stanmer Park, located twenty minutes from the planned protest site, awoke to find the building surrounded by 27 riot police vans. Those trapped inside were only permitted to leave inside a police cordon -- a mobile means of detention. Protesters who were able to reach the planned convergence space, a park close to the EDO/ITT factory, quickly met with an overwhelming force of riot police on foot and horseback.

Undeterred, protesters, numbering around 300, splintered off into smaller groups as the day quickly developed into an elaborate, and wholly unequal game of pursuit between activists and police. Sights such as a group of protesters, pursued by police, taking off into the woods carrying a largepapier-mache airplane and inflatable hammers underlined the tragicomic nature of the demonstration. Two Israeli activists taking part in the action held an impromptu talk about the realities of day-to-day life for Palestinians under Israeli occupation to those held captive alongside them in a police cordon.

#BDS: California Attorney General Issues Title and Summary for Divest from Israel Initiative

The Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC) is the first citizens’ effort in the country to appeal directly to voters to hold Israel accountable for violations of international law and human rights.
With the official assignment of a title* and summary to our Initiative by the Attorney General on September 1st, the IDC has begun the process of collecting the signatures of at least 434,000 registered California voters by January 31, 2011.

There are only 97 days left until the end of Signature Gathering!

If successful, the measure will appear on the next statewide ballot after March 2011.Then, if approved by a majority of voters, it will become California law. This means that the two public retirement systems, the Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), would be required to engage in a divestment process with corporations providing equipment and services to Israel that are used in the violation of human rights and international law, including but not limited to the building of the “Separation Wall” and settlements.
If you share our concern for a just peace, we hope that you will join the campaign and help us gather signatures in your community. Please click on Petition Resources to find out how you can participate.

#BDS: New Scandal Rocks Zionist Federation

The latest scandal to hit a self-confessed pro-Israeli organization in South Africa, the SA Zionist Federation, [SAZF] is likely to invigorate the 'Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions' [BDS] campaign against Israel and its affiliates.
This remarkable turn of events involves a Johannesburg-based bag manufacturing company, Saley’s Travel Goods, who refused to supply the SAZF with goods on the grounds that it did not want to “aid and abet” organizations responsible for “crimes against humanity”.
The SAZF, known for its links to apartheid Israel, has in the recent past been embroiled in a number of headline grabbing controversies surrounding its defense of Israeli war crimes.
Most notable has been its failed attempt to prevent a leading South African jurist, Judge Richard Goldstone from attending his grandson’s barmitzvah. This move was interpreted by many Jewish critics of Israel as a form of punishing Goldstone for his report on Operation Cast Lead that established Israel’s guilt in Gaza.
More recently a Cape Town NGO known as Open Shuhada Street, whose members comprise of prominent human rights activists accused the SAZF of supporting occupation, settlement and oppression.
According to Open Shuhada Street, in response to its call to boycott the settlement-made products of Ahava, the SAZF launched a “vicious personal attack on us”.
Ahava is manufactured in an Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank and thus a call for a boycott of its products is necessary to make the occupation unprofitable. Instead of recognising this undisputed fact, the SAZF has called for people to increase their purchases of Ahava.
Open Shuhada Street has therefore accused the SAZF of being devoted to increasing the profitability of the occupation and of defending the use of Occupied Territory “in violation of international law and to entrenching and sustaining Israeli settlements which stand in the way of peace”. This exposes the SAZF as an obstacle to peace!

#BDS: Caterpillar to delay supply of D9 bulldozers to IDF

Caterpillar, the company which supplies the IDF with bulldozers, has announced that it is delaying the supply of D9 bulldozers during the time that the trial of Rachel Corrie proceeds, Channel 2 reported on Monday.

The company does not usually manufacture a military version of the D9 but it has many features that make desirable for military applications and the IDF has used them extensively for operations.

Rachel Corrie was a US activist who was killed in Gaza seven years ago by a bulldozer driver who struck and killed her. Her family charged that the IDF and its officers had acted recklessly, using an armored Caterpillar D9R bulldozer without regard to the presence in the area of unarmed and nonviolent civilians.

#BDS: As Israel fires on activists, BDS movement claims victories

At least fifteen Palestinians were injured in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday, 22 October, when Israeli forces opened fire at a demonstration against the wall and ongoing land confiscation.

Villagers "marched alongside Israeli and international supporters towards the village lands, where Israel is building the wall," the Palestinian News Network (PNN) reported. "Soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at them, injuring 15 civilians, one critically. Troops also fired tear gas into homes, burning three houses. Soldiers took a fourth house and told the owner they would use it as a military post for 45 days" ("Fifteen injured, Three Homes Burned In Nabi Saleh Village," 22 October 2010).

That same day, in the village of al-Masara near Bethlehem, one international activist was wounded and two others were arrested by Israeli soldiers during a similar weekly protest against the planned construction of the wall. "Israeli soldiers stopped the protesters near the local school and used tear gas and sound bombs to force them back. A French activist sustained head injuries from a tear gas bomb and soldiers arrested two other internationals," according to PNN. ("One Injured, Two Arrested, During Wall Protest Near Bethlehem," 22 October 2010).

Elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, PNN reported that three Palestinian youths were injured that same day by Israeli-fired tear gas canisters during a protest in the village of Bilin. Villagers have waged regular, nonviolent demonstrations for several years against the encroaching Israeli wall and the nearby settlement colonies. Eight-year-old Lamma Abu Rahma, 17-year-old Muhammad al-Khatib and 17-year-old Ahmad Burnat were hit in the legs and feet by the tear gas grenades. ("Three Civilians Injured During Weekly Bil'in Anti Wall Protest," 22 October 2010).

In related news, EU representatives and consuls general in Jerusalem released a statement on 20 October condemning the imprisonment of Abdallah Abu Rahme, a leader of the nonviolent resistance movement in Bilinwho was recently sentenced by a military court to one year in Israeli prison. "The EU considers Abdallah Abu Rahme a human rights defender who has protested in a peaceful manner against the route of the Israeli separation barrier through his village of Bilin," said the statement. "The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal. The EU supports the key role of human rights defenders in promoting and furthering of human rights" ("EU Representatives Regret Israeli Military Court Sentence," 20 October 2010).

Meanwhile, around the globe, solidarity activists accelerated efforts to hold Israel accountable for its repressive policies, as well as corporations that profit from Israel's human rights abuses.

#BDS: رسالة إلى عمال المنجم التشيلي: ارفضوا دعوة إسرائيل لزيارة القدس

نشر موقع «غلوبال ريسرتش» مؤخراً رسالة موجهة الى العمال الناجين من منجم تشيلي تدعوهم إلى رفض «دعوة» وزارة السياحة الإسرائيلية لزيارة المواقع الدينية المسيحية في القدس المحتلة خلال عيد الميلاد.
وأكدت الرسالة أن إسرائيل تهدف من وراء دعوة العمال الناجين من المنجم الى زيارة القدس المحتلة، استغلال شهرتهم. وطلبت منهم بوضوح رفض الدعوة، قائلة «أرجوكم لا تقبلوا هذه الدعوة، فأنتم غير مدعوين لزيارة «إسرائيل» فحسب بل زيارة الأماكن المقدسة التي تقبع تحت الاحتلال الإسرائيلي منذ 42 سنة، حظر الاحتلال خلالها على الفلسطينيين المسيحيين الدخول إليها بشكل دائم، وعيد الميلاد هو يوم نحتفل فيه بولادة السيد المسيح لكن ليس على حساب من يعيش تحت الاحتلال في مكان ولادته من خلال قبول هدية من المحتل».
وأضافت «جاءت وثيقة كايروس الفلسطينية (التي أعدها بعض رجال الدين المسيحي والشخصيات الوطنية المسيحية) نتيجة لذلك، حيث طالب الفلسطينيون بإنهاء الاحتلال الذي لم تتوقف فيه إسرائيل عن انتهاك القانون الدولي، وفيه صرخة من أعماق البلد الذي يتألم، حيث دعا المسيحيون زعماء الدين والسياسة والمجتمع الفلسطيني والإسرائيلي وإخوانهم المسيحيين والمسلمين وكنائس العالم الى مساندتهم».
وتابعت «ساهمت عقيدة التحرر في أميركا اللاتينية في تقديم العزاء للمضطهدين، ويوجد لدى الفلسطينيين عقيدة مماثلة، وهي تدعو إلى تحرير المضطهدين من نير الاحتلال الإسرائيلي. هؤلاء إخوتكم وأخواتكم في المسيحية والإنسانية».