Nov 7, 2010

#BDS: Open Letter from Gaza Students to the European Students’ Union: Oppose Apartheid and War Crimes

aWe are writing to you as students from the besieged Gaza Strip whose entire educational system has been crippled as a result of Israel’s four-year long and ongoing blockade. We are deeply distressed that you held your annual conference this year in Jerusalem, a conference organized by the National Union of Israeli Students and the Israeli Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, in addition to the Prime Minister’s Office. We are saddened that you failed to empathize with us and break through the silence imposed on our voices by the state you visited, to stand against 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.” [1]

Amidst the ongoing siege and occupation, while we were massacred over the new year of 2009, the world’s governing bodies and judiciaries watched on. For 22 horror stricken days, we were left alone to face the fourth largest army in the world, a state with more than 400 nuclear heads which has frequently used all of its destructive powers on our civilian population. We faced F16s, F15s, F35s, Merkava tanks, Apache helicopters, naval gunboats and illegal, flesh burning white phosphorous which resulted in more than 1400 casualties, including 413 children. On the first day of the massacre, over 500 Israeli warplanes set about bombing the entire Gaza Strip. It was 11:23 am, the time that students left their schools and universities, after the winter term examination period. According to main-stream Human Rights Organizations, including B’tselem, the majority of casualties were children below the age of 18.

In the course of the assault 37 primary and secondary schools were hit, including 18 that were operating as shelters for those fleeing their homes. The American International School was destroyed, and four buildings of the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) demolished.[2] The United Nations Goldstone investigation reported that, “the Gaza military operations were directed by Israel at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population.”[3] Yet no action has been taken by the international community.

Since it was founded on the ruins of Palestinian refugees, Israel has violated more United Nations resolutions than any other, including article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights pertaining to education and the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Our right to education is continually denied, in breach of article 50 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the protection of civilians in times of war which demands that all institutions, “devoted to the care and education of children” have their work facilitated by the occupying power.

In Gaza, Israel’s four year long blockade has prevented even the most basic student necessities such as stationary, paper, books, school bags—students frequently don’t have the candles to study under in light of the enforced shortage of electricity. The resulting poverty has required many aspiring students to drop out early to work for their family and except for a tiny few, pursuing scholarships abroad is next to impossible.

This is not to mention Israel’s ruthless occupation of the West Bank, its expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements, the construction of the illegal Apartheid Separation Wall, the restriction of Palestinian movement and humiliations at the over 600 West Bank checkpoints and the illegal annexation of Jerusalem, the location of your annual conference.

The 1948 Palestinians, who had Israeli citizenship imposed on them, suffer greatly from discriminatory laws and policies that Jewish citizens of Israel enjoy. Our only fault is that of belonging to the ‘wrong religion’. The words of many Israeli policy makers suggest even more of our people could soon be violently expelled to accompany the ‘slow motion ethnic cleansing’ that has been taking place since 1948.

We call on you not to yield to this merciless Israeli propaganda machine that aims to whitewash Israeli crimes, and join the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, to isolate Israel until it complies with International Law, ends its illegal siege on Gaza, its 53 year military occupation of the West Bank, its racially motivated discriminatory policies against the 1.4 million indigenous arab population in Israel and the denial of the right of return to the millions of victims of Israel’s ethnic cleansing.[4]

The Palestinian call for the academic boycott of Israel has been supported by academics and students around the world. Universities and colleges such as UC, Berkeley, University of Michigan (Dearborne), Hampshire College and Sussex University and others have all launched efforts to boycott and divest from companies that support Israeli apartheid and occupation. After visiting the Holy Land, Archbishop and BDS activist Desmund Tutu said:

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?”[5]

When the European Students’ Union began life in 1982 as the ‘Western European Students Information Bureau’ Students and their Unions were leading the way in opposition to the racist Apartheid South African regime. There was no negotiating with such oppression based on race – there was only one word: BOYCOTT. People no longer believed the Afrikaner rhetoric just like many around the world are now not falling for the ‘Rebrand Israel’ campaign. Like now, the support of Western Governments for the decades-long oppression resulted in the failure to apply justice through the traditional means of holding human rights violators and war criminals to account.

Just as students throughout the 80s were banning Barclays bank from campuses for their investment in Apartheid, we had hopes of similar solidarity given the unique savagery and imprisonment we Palestinians are subjected to. You failed to remember such times when it wasn’t easy to stand on the right side of history, and take a stand as only student movements can. Instead, you decided to normalize with an Apartheid regime by attending the European Students’ Union meeting in Jerusalem. Moreover, you failed to stand up for those the tour did not show you, those whose voices are strangled, whose hopes are permanently shot down and whose loved ones are still grieving.

Besieged Gaza,
The Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)


Endorsed by:
Clare Solomon, President, University of London Union
Arfah Farooq, Black and Ethnic Officer, Goldsmiths Students’ Union
Mark Bergfeld, National Union Students, National Executive Committee
Hanif Leylabi National Union Students, LGBT Committee
James Haywood, Campaigns and Communications Officer, Goldsmiths Students’ Union
Ashok Kumar, Education Officer, LSE Students’ Union

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)

#BDS: African academics launch boycott campaign against Israeli universities

JOHANNESBURG, (PIC)-- Hundreds of African academics with the support of international influential figures announced an initiative to boycott Israeli universities until their state ends its occupation of the Palestinian territories.
More than 200 academics from 13 African universities pledged in a statement reported by different media outlets on Sunday to support the initiative made the university of Johannesburg which calls for ending academic cooperation with the Israeli occupation.
The Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper said today that a lot of international influential figures support this initiative including noted South African archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu in addition to leading figures in South Africa.
The academics' statement noted that the Israeli universities are not targeted due to their ethnic identity or religious faith, but because of their support for the apartheid regime in Israel, especially the university of Ben-Gurion which directly and indirectly support the military attacks which are carried out by the Israeli army against the Palestinians.
The academics also accused Ben Gurion university of sponsoring scientific research projects that serve the armament program of the Israeli army and contribute to the production of prohibited weapons that are used against the Palestinians.
Al-Ahram newspaper pointed out that this boycott campaign was preceded by a report issued months ago by the human sciences research council in South Africa and funded by the department of foreign affairs of South Africa under the title "Is Israel an apartheid state."
The report emphasized that the countries, which pursue the apartheid policy, follow three methods to maintain the domination of particular ethnic groups, and in the case of Israel, the regime there uses laws, courts and security apparatuses to implement its racial polices against the Palestinian and in favor of the Jews alone.

#BDS: Jewish Federations acknowledge Israel’s ‘paradigm shift,’ then circle the wagons

I like to say the fat is in the fire, and the fat is in the fire. This week the Jewish Federations, the leading civic Jewish organizations in American cities, are holdingtheir General Assembly in New Orleans and the big theme of the event looks to be fighting the boycott movement, or Israel's "delegitimizers." (Go to that link and you see Netanyahu's picture. Mr. Charm. The idea that Israel ought to reform itself to gain the support of liberal American Jews doesn't seem to be on the table.)
We've reported before on the Federations' $6 million initiative to fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Well, below is some of the literature from the conference. It feels very circle-the-wagons. Shouldn't Israel change? Shouldn't 62 years of Palestinian statelessness call on the Jewish conscience?
An email from a Federations spokesperson named Adam Muhlendorf hitting the big theme follows the break:

Important General Assembly Information re: Israel Action Network
A growing wave of individuals and groups across the United States are using radical rhetoric labeling Israel as an apartheid state, calling for boycotts, divestments and sanctions to wreck havoc and severly weaken Israel’s economy, and generally working to achieve what terrorist groups have been seeking for decades – turn Israel into a pariah.
The North American Jewish community has had enough and they are stepping up their efforts to confront Israel’s antagonist head on. And it begins at the GA… One of the major themes of this year’s General Assembly includes discussions on the North American Jewish community’s new efforts to proactively lead the conversation about the legitimacy of the State of Israel and to collectively counter those who challenge Israel’s existence.
Chief among these efforts is the Israel Action Network – a multi-million dollar project of The Jewish Federations of North America in cooperation with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs whose goal is to organize the collective ability and unique community-based infrastructure of the Jewish Federations movement to proactively promote a fair and balanced understanding of Israel and Middle East issues....
Throughout the GA, there will be numerous sessions that will discuss this new effort in detail. I have included a schedule (and additional details) of these programs below. As always we are happy to help facilitate any interviews with Israel Action Network spokespersons, Federations officials or panelists. Additionally, we expect Vice President Biden, Prime Minister Netanyahu and others to reference the Israel Action Network or the Jewish community’s efforts in their remarks.

#BDS: 'Lonely Planet' guidebook rates Tel Aviv among world's 'top ten cities' despite boycott calls

In the midst of a worldwide boycott campaign urging tourists to refuse to visit Israel until Israeli authorities adhere to international law and signed agreements, the 'Lonely Planet' travel guide company has listed Israeli city Tel Aviv as #3 in its 'top ten cities for 2011'.

The company has been the subject of a targeted campaign by the Israeli tourism ministry after boycott activists encouraged the company to support a boycott of Israel.

In its listing encouraging tourists to visit Tel Aviv, the Lonely Planet guide states, "Tel Aviv is the total flipside of Jerusalem, a modern Sin City on the sea rather than an ancient Holy City on a hill. Hedonism is the one religion that unites its inhabitants. There are more bars than synagogues, God is a DJ and everyone's body is a temple."

The entry does not mention the role of Tel Aviv in the displacement of Palestinians during the creation of Tel Aviv on the ancient city of Jaffa, nor does it go into the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and the imprisonment of Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip.

For these and other reasons, the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions Movement ( called on Lonely Planet to revoke their rating of Tel Aviv as a top tourist destination for 2011.

In one ironic twist, the entry promoting Tel Aviv praises the city's hummus - a food that is a traditional Arab staple which has been coopted by Israeli restaurants and promoted as an 'Israeli' food.

The Israeli Tourism Ministry praised the decision by 'Lonely Planet' editors to rank Tel Aviv among its top ten destinations - a spokesperson for the Ministry told Israeli daily Ha'aretz that the decision is "a vote of confidence in the city as an international tourism brand and an international city."

The spokesperson did not mention the pressure put on the company by the Tourism Ministry during the last year.

#BDS: Javier Simorra opens 1st Israel store

Spanish luxury fashion chain's franchiser in Jewish state plans to open 10 stores across country

Spanish fashion chain Javier Simorra opened its first store inIsrael recently, at Tel Aviv's Ramat Aviv Mall.

Some NIS 1.5 million (about $410,000) were invested in the flagship store, which measures 60 square meters (645 square feet) in size and was designed according to the brand's global concept.

The chain, which is named after Spanish fashion designer Javier Simorra and specializes in luxury clothing for women, generates some €100 million (about $140 million) a year and is active in
13 countries.

#BDS: Turning the tables on BDS

Don’t just react; undermine the credibility and influence of groups promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions.

The North American Jewish community has taken an important step to counter the delegitimization campaigns targeting Israel. Directed by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in partnership with the Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA), the Israel Action Network should be a vital resource to combat these assaults.

To emerge victorious in this political war, the network must be armed with detailed information about the opposition, and implement an effective counterstrategy on this basis. This involves distributing information to college students and active community members, so they can name and shame the groups that lead and fund demonization.NGO Monitor and other groups can provide the Israel Action Network with this information without reinventing this particular wheel.

The challenge is formidable. In 2001 at the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, more than 1,500 anti-Israel NGOs adopted a plan of action that highlights the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. In the decade that followed, these groups exploited human rights rhetoric and international legal claims to push this immoral objective.

#BDS: ‏13‏ جامعة جنوب إفريقية تقاطع "إسرائيل"

200 أكاديمي من جنوب أفريقيا تعهدوا بمقاطعة اسرائيل (صفا)

جوهانسبرج – صفا
تعهد أكثر من‏200‏ أكاديمي من ‏13‏ جامعة دعم مبادرة جامعة جوهانسبرج لإنهاء التعاون مع الاحتلال الإسرائيلي في بادرة هي الأولى من نوعها.

ووقع هؤلاء على عريضة أكاديمية في صورة بيان يدعو إلى وقف اتفاق للتعاون بين جامعة جوهانسبرج وجامعة بن غوريون في مدينة النقب المحتلة.

وزادت الدعوة لمقاطعة الاحتلال الإسرائيلي في جنوب إفريقيا قوة مع بروز أصوات مؤثرة من أشهرها القس "ديزموند توتو" الحائز على جائزة نوبل للسلام في عام ‏1984‏، بالإضافة إلى عشرات الشخصيات الرائدة.‏

وأوضح البيان أن جامعات "إسرائيل" ليست مستهدفة بسبب هويتها العرقية أو الدينية وإنما لتوطئها مع نظام الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي وتحديدًا جامعة بن غوريون التي تحتفظ بصلات فعلية بأعمال الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.

وأضاف إن " هذه الجامعة بشكل مباشر أو غير مباشر تؤيد الهجمات الإسرائيلية ضد الفلسطينيين وقتلهم عبر المنح المتميزة والمزايا المالية السخية والمغرية للطلاب الإسرائيليين الذين يخدمون في الوحدات القتالية النشطة بالجيش الإسرائيلي والمنح الخاصة للطلاب المدرجين في خدمة الاحتياط ورعاية الأبحاث العلمية التي تسخر لصالح تكنولوجيا التسلح وإنتاج بعض الأسلحة المحظورة التي يستخدمها الجيش الإسرائيلي ضد الفلسطينيين‏".

وتأتي تلك المقاطعة في الوقت الذي صدر فيه أخيرًا أيضا في جنوب إفريقيا تقريرًَا بعنوان "هل إسرائيل دولة فصل عنصري أبارتايد؟‏"‏، عن مركز بحوث العلوم الإنسانية.

وهذا التقرير يحمل الصبغة القانونية البحتة غير المتحيزة التي لا تكترث كثيرًا بالجدل السياسي واستند إلي بحث الأوضاع والممارسات والسياسات الإسرائيلية ضد الفلسطينيين انطلاقا من القانون الدولي‏.

‏وأكد التقرير الذي استغرق إعداده‏ 15‏ شهرًا أن الدول التي تمارس سياسة الفصل العنصري "الأبارتايد" تستند إلي ثلاث وسائل لتكريس الهيمنة لصالح فئة بعينها وفي حالة "إسرائيل" هي تسخر القانون والمحاكم والأجهزة الأمنية لتنفيذ ذلك النهج العنصري ضد الفلسطينيين ولمصلحة اليهود‏.‏