Oct 27, 2010

#BDS: Presbyterian Mission Network Joins BDS Movement

Presbyterian Mission Network Joins BDS Movement, Calls for Boycotts on goods from Illegal Israeli Settlements

CHICAGO, October 25—In response to a call to action from the Christians of the Holy Land, The Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) [PC(USA)] voted at its annual meeting to join the international boycott of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
The first targeted products for the boycott are Ahava Cosmetics, King Solomon Dates, and Jordan River Dates, imported into the United States from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The network also voted to identify companies profiting from the illegal military occupation, initiate dialogue with them and expand the boycott list if needed, at a later date. This action would include companies doing business in the OPT or contributing to the building of infrastructure of illegal settlements.
Carol Hylkema, Moderator of IPMN from Detroit Presbytery said, “Our grassroots network has reached a tipping point and we find we must respond to the call of Christians in the Middle East who through The Amman Call asked for ‘No more words without deeds.’” In addition to calling for boycott, as a mission network of the PC(USA), the IPMN will sponsor an initiative that will seek to make its position that of the entire denomination when their General Assembly meets in 2012.
In June 2008, the General Assembly of the PC(USA) voted to endorse The Amman Call and its “commitment to imperatives of ecumenical solidarity in action for Just Peace.”
Similarly, at its General Assembly in 2010, the denomination voted to receive for study, a confession from the Christians of the Holy Land known as Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth.
As this bold confession of faith, hope, and love approaches its first anniversary in December 2010, the IPMN joins in solidarity with the confession’s call to action, which asks the Churches and Christians of the world "to engage in divestment and in an economic and commercial boycott of everything produced by the [Israeli military] occupation." The object of this form of peaceful resistance, Kairos declares, "is not revenge but rather to put an end to the existing evil...bringing both [Palestinians and Israelis] to justice and reconciliation."
Co-chair of the IPMN Education Committee, David Jones of Redwoods Presbytery stated, “Our network reads the Kairos confession as a Palestinian ‘letter from a Birmingham Jail.’ Recognizing the hour is late and the call is urgent; we are joining the international BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) because it is time for action.”
The Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is a grassroots organization established in 2004 with a mandate from the denomination’s General Assembly. This mandate is to advocate by “demonstrating solidarity and changing the conditions that erode the humanity of Palestinians.” As part of its mandate, the IPMN speaks TO the church not FOR the church.

Contact: The Rev. Dr. Jeff DeYoe, IPMN Advocacy Chair - deyoejeffrey@yahoo.com

#BDS: The Palestine Buy-cott

Olives are one of Palestine's primary crops

The first official boycott of Israel was spearheaded by the Arab League immediately after Israel was established in 1948. In 2005 Palestinian Civil Society issued a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel complies with International Law, and universal principles of human rights. Since then that call has been endorsed by hundreds of organizations which aim to challenge Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people.

Consumers boycott Israeli products, such as Ahava skin-care products made from Dead Sea mud, or Israeli dateswhich are the most profitable crop of many Israeli settlements. Musicians such as Elvis Costello and Carlos Santana cancelled concerts in Israel. Organizations like US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO) and US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) compile and circulate lists of brand names and corporations that aid Israel. These include Caterpillar Inc.that produces the armored bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes, or Motorola which manufactures missile guidance systems in aerial drones, and surveillance systems used in checkpoints and along the apartheid wall.

Boycotts have been instrumental in effecting political change, such as its successful use as a tool to end South African apartheid. But many find it virtually impossible to avoid all the companies on the list. For those who can't give up that morning Starbucks, or that Coca-Cola with dinner there is another tool in the economic arsenal. In addition to boycotting Israel, you can buy Palestine. Despite the Palestinian economy being stifled by Israeli policies, Palestinians continue to farm, and produce a wide variety of products which can be purchased on a number of websites.

#BDS: An Open letter From Besieged Gaza to Cape Town Opera: Remember South African Liberation and Boycott Apartheid Israel

We are writing to you from the Bantustan of the Gaza Strip, from under a ‘medieval’ siege, our land, air and sea borders controlled and blockaded by the fourth most powerful military in the world – that of the Israeli State. We are shocked for your decision to perform the Cape Town Opera in the Sun City of the Middle East. We are Palestinian artists, students and teachers in Gaza who experienced first-hand Israel’s genocidal onslaught of Gaza for 3 weeks during the winter of 2009 that killed over 1400 people, including over 430 of our children, war crimes outlined in the United Nations Goldstone Report. We are asking you to cancel the Cape Town Opera performance in the Israeli state-sponsored Tel Aviv Opera House this November 12, joining the 2005 call by 171 Palestinian Civil Society organizations calling for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights”.

Five months before the Israeli slaughter of July 2008 which left a further 5300 injured, a South African delegation, including ANC members, visited Israel and Occupied Palestine. They unanimously concluded that the Israel 60 year long treatment of Palestinians was far worse than South African apartheid. Politician and former Deputy Minister of Health Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge said, “What I see here is worse than what we experienced – the absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw….racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa.” Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya added: “It is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid.”

Your appearance there would not only be turning your backs on us the Palestinians who have endured over 60 years of Israel’s horrific apartheid and ethnic-cleansing policies. It would also be a tragic example of the short memories of people wronged in the past by racial oppression.

We remind you of the British Musicians Union who joined the BDS campaign in 1961 and the British Screenwriters Guild that banned the distribution of British films in South Africa in 1965. In 1981 the Associated Actors and Artists of America unions banned any performance in South Africa and the Black Caucus successfully pressured the US administration to divest from and impose sanctions on the South African apartheid government. We will also never forget the impact of Artists United Against Apartheid and the song, “Sun City”.

What has happened to this spirit of resistance now? What could be a more peaceful way to fight injustice than to boycott a settler colonial state, described by United Nations Special Rapporteur John Dugard 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.” As Angelo Gobbato recounted, we have come a long way in South Africa since 1971 when the Nico Malan performing arts complex and opera house was opened as a ‘whites only’ building. This time if you perform in Tel Aviv Opera House it will be us who have no right to come and see you with the Israeli Army surrounding us, occupying us and controlling our every move.

And why?

Because we are Palestinians, the undesired ‘ethnic group’ for apartheid Israel, victims of what the Israeli Academic and Historian Ilan Pappe describes as Israel’s, “slow-motion genocide”. Those remaining in the tiny Bantustans of land from where Israel has not yet expelled us face military occupation and attacks, continuous settler harassment and racial discrimination that echoes the worst traits of apartheid. Most of the 8 million Palestinian refugees worldwide remain in squalid refugee camp ghettos, reminiscent of Black and Colored townships, deprived of the right to return to their land in complete violation of United Nations Resolution 194.

Do the Cape Town Opera members completely ignore the fact that instead of showing solidarity with us the voiceless and imprisoned, they will instead be performing to war-makers and Israeli soldiers and reservists? Those who have humiliated our Palestinian mothers in West Bank checkpoints, dropped bombs and white phosphorous on our civilian populations, bulldozed our villages, olive groves and farmland? Since its founding on the ruins of Palestinian refugees in 1948 Israel has violated more United Nations Resolutions than any other member state. As was successfully directed at the South African regime, the cultural boycott is a vital mechanism to hold Israel to account for crimes that have for so long been granted immunity by the International Community.

We call on the Cape Town Opera to join the global BDS initiative and build on the South African initiatives with COSATU and the historic first step from the University of Johannesburg to reduce ties with Ben Gurion University. We ask you to unite with the Irish, Scottish and British trade unions, Hampshire College, Sussex University, UC, Berkeley, University of Michigan, and Dearborn. To follow the example of courageous writers such as Arundhati Roy, John Berger and Henning Mankell as well as musicians Elvis Costello, Gil Scot-Heron, Carlos Santana, the Klaxons, Gorillaz Sound System, the Pixies, David Banhart, Massive Attack and Brian Eno who all refuse to perform in Israel.

As BDS advocate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said earlier this year, “I never tire of speaking about the very deep distress in my visits to the Holy Land; they remind me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like we did when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. My heart aches. I say, "Why are our memories so short?"

We the besieged Palestinians of the Gaza Strip urge the Cape Town Opera to stand on the right side of history and remember how many did for South Africa when it was not fashionable to do so. Please reconsider your decision to perform in Israel, and oppose Apartheid once again.

Besieged Gaza,

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information
Arab Cultural Forum

#BDS: Tutu urges South African opera not to tour Israel

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who earned a Nobel for his peaceful opposition to apartheid, is urging the Cape Town Opera troupe not to tour Israel until discrimination there ends.
In a statement Tuesday Tutu compared the troupe's visit next month to international artists performing in apartheid South Africa.
He says it would be "unconscionable" to perform "Porgy and Bess," which he says has a "universal message of nondiscrimination."
Tutu charges that by bringing international artists to perform, the Tel Aviv Opera House "advances Israel's fallacious claim to being a 'civilized democracy.'"
Tutu has emerged as a sharp critic of Israel. Last month, he backed calls for a South African academic boycott of Israel.