Dec 30, 2010

#BDS: An Open Letter from Gaza: Two Years after the Massacre, a Demand for Justice

UK, December 26, (Pal Telegraph) - We the Palestinians of the Besieged Gaza Strip, on this day, two years on from Israel's genocidal attack on our families, our houses, our roads, our factories and our schools, are saying enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting – the time is now to hold Israel to account for its ongoing crimes against us. On the 27th of December 2008, Israel began an indiscriminate bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
The assault lasted 22 days, killing 1,417 Palestinians, 352 of them children, according to main-stream Human Rights Organizations. For a staggering 528 hours, Israeli Occupation Forces let loose their US-supplied F15s, F16s, Merkava Tanks, internationally prohibited White Phosphorous, and bombed and invaded the small Palestinian coastal enclave that is home to 1.5 million, of whom 800,000 are children and over 80 percent UN registered refugees. 
Around 5,300 remain permanently wounded.
This devastation exceeded in savagery all previous massacres suffered in Gaza, such as the 21children killed in Jabalia in March 2008 or the 19 civilians killed sheltering in their house in the Beit Hanoun Massacre of 2006. The carnage even exceeded the attacks in November 1956 in which Israeli troops indiscriminately rounded up and killed 275 Palestinians in the Southern town of Khan Younis and 111 more in Rafah.

Since the Gaza massacre of 2009, world citizens have undertaken the responsibility to pressure Israel to comply with international law, through a proven strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions. As in the global BDS movement that was so effective in ending the apartheid South African regime, we urge people of conscience to join the BDS call made by over 170 Palestinian organizations in 2005. As in South Africa the imbalance of power and representation in this struggle can be counterbalanced by a powerful international solidarity movement with BDS at the forefront, holding Israeli policy makers to account, something the international governing community has repeatedly failed to do. Similarly, creative civilian efforts such as the Free Gaza boats that broke the siege five times, the Gaza Freedom March, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the many land convoys must never stop their siege-breaking, highlighting the inhumanity of keeping 1.5 million Gazans in an open-air prison. 
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#BDS: Isn’t it time we stopped? (1990)

The decision of the Seattle transport authority to cancel a contract to run a series of bus ads protesting Israel’s war crimes brings to mind a similar campaign in the San Francisco Bay Area, twenty years ago this month, which had a very different outcome.
On December 3, 1990, 15 large ads, 11 feet by 5 feet, began appearing in BART stations throughout the Bay Area. They displayed a picture of an Israeli soldier pointing his rifle at a group of seated Palestinian women accompanied by a text that described the situation in Occupied Palestine on the third anniversary of the First Intifada and called for stopping US aid to Israel. The ads were produced by the Middle East Peace Network, a coalition of organizations and individuals of which I was member, at a cost of $4800.
Scheduled to run a month, they were up for less than half of that when we learned they had been covered over or taken down because, we were told by Mike Collins, the vice-president of TDI, the advertising firm responsible for placing the ads, that vandals had defaced the ads with spray paint during a “one night hit.” We would, he told us, get our money refunded. None of us bought Collins’ story, particularly when he presented no evidence that the ads had actually been defaced, an act that would have involved the culprit(s) descending into the path of the subway cars and risking touching the hot third rail. Our suspicions were validated soon afterward when I and another member of the network discovered one of the ads, pristine and untouched, leaning against a back wall at one of the BART stations.
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#BDS: 'Boycott Israel campaign escalating'

Almost four years into the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, misery is a part of daily life for the enclave's 1.5 million residents, who are living in what some people call 'the world's largest open-air prison.'

Press TV has interviewed Kamel Hawwash, the vice chairman of Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London, to ask him his view on the matter.

Press TV: You are sitting in London and representing Palestine Solidarity Campaign. What type of message does this all send to the international community in your perspective?

Kamel Hawwash: Well, the message is that the international community has not done enough to bring (the) Israelis to account -- that the people in Palestine and in Gaza haven't been forgotten. Tomorrow, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other organizations are holding a vigil outside the Israeli embassy in London because we haven't forgotten.

But, there is no doubt that the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza has continued, and at the same time -- and we must not forget this -- that an out-and-out attack on Palestinians continues in the West Bank and in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) with the continuation of settlement building, continuation of house evictions and demolitions.

So, the international community is absolutely guilty of not bringing Israel to account. We know that the American administration -- which came in supposedly on a ticket of trying to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East al-Quds (Jerusalem) -- has almost washed its hands of it because it has decided it cannot take on this right-wing extremist and I'd say racist Israeli government.

So, what we have is a high level of awareness among citizens of the world. There is a lot of support for the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza. The flotilla … was an example of attempts to break the siege and there have been other convoys that tried to bring food and medicine to the people of Gaza, but they need to be free. They need to be free of the continuing occupation by the Israelis and they need to be able to develop a state for the Palestinian people which will allow them to live in freedom, just like any other people in the world.

So, we must continue to keep the pressure up; various organizations and people around the world [must keep up the pressure] on the Israelis -- and in particular, to look at issues that will cause Israel problems including the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement because Israel only begins to do things when it feels it is hurting. And one way of doing that is to intensify the campaign of isolating it through the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign. 

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#BDS: Seattle anti-Israel demonstration in wake of Metro ad controversy

SEATTLE – An anti-Israel demonstration made its way to a rainy downtown Seattle Monday night, following a weeklong debate over Middle Eastern bus ads that put King County Metro Transit in the middle.

About 50 people gathered at Westlake Center, marking the second anniversary of Israel's military action in Gaza. The protesters say they want to break the silence over Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

"We'd like Israel to be held accountable for its actions and our government to stop spending our tax dollars to support Israel's war crimes," said Ed Mast, Mideast Awareness Campaign.

The local friction broke out last week over controversial, dueling bus advertisements that were slated to appear on Metro buses -- one group's ads alleged "Israeli War Crimes" and another countered with "Palestinian War Crimes."

Metro decided to drop both ads while it reviews its non commercial ad policy.

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#BDS: Spanish band plays at Hebron school

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- A Spanish band on Monday gave a concert at a Hebron school for students who must cross military checkpoints every day.

The band performed at Corboda elementary school in Hebron's Old City. The school was named after the Andalusian city in southern Spain.

The musicians played several compositions and pupils were given a chance to play their instruments.

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#BDS: Campaign Against Mekorot Launched in Argentina

In response to Merkorot’s proposed involvement in the an Argentinian water project, The Palestinian Federation of Argentina has moblized to boycott the company and halt the deal under the slogan “Mekorot Out!”.

The contract was revealed this January. Following a visit to Israel, the Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires announced that a tender for the construction of a regional water treatment plant in La Plata would be awared a consortium, of which Mekorot is a part.

Mekorot is guilty of not only cutting off water to Palestinian areas and communities, but also ensuring the expansion of settlements by connection both large settlements and new “outposts” to the water network.

Accordingly, the Palestinain Federation has stressed that, “Mekorot is complicit in war crimes because their actions contribute to the maintenance and construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and violate Palestinian human rights by not allowing them the minimum access to water or the exploitation of their natural resourcesthe […] Province of Buenos Aires must say NO to companies involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Read the Statement from the Palestinian Federation of Argentina

#BDS: Dutch Government Cuts Funding for Cordaid, NGO Involved in Palestine

The Hague – PNN - The Dutch Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Catholic Organization for Development Cooperation, or Cordaid, became the latest victim of both the European trend toward austerity and a rightward leaning Dutch government when it saw its government funding cut by 42% over the last two months.

The latest cut, of 12%, was enacted on December 28, adding on to the 30% cut passed by the Dutch parliament on November 30. Cordaid, which receives government money and devotes much of its efforts to reducing structural poverty by funding development projects in places such as Palestine, was just one of many groups affected by the slashing of Dutch international aid caused by the economic downturn. As a result of the cuts, the number of Dutch "partner countries" will be halved from 33 to 16.

Cordaid organizers in Palestine, however, believe the new right-wing government of the Netherlands also targeted Cordaid specifically for its Palestinian connections.

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#BDS: Photostory: Volvo equipment used in house demolitions (part 2)

Israeli forces are using Volvo construction equipment and trucks in the destruction of Palestinian property. The Electronic Intifada has previously documented the use of Volvo equipment by the Israeli government in its destruction of Palestinian property ("Photostory: Volvo equipment used in house demolitions," "Volvo: Symbol of safety or human rights abuses?").


Volvo construction equipment and trucks were seen in action on the construction site of Israel's wall near al-Walaja village in the occupied West Bank. The wall will surround al-Walaja from all sides, completely isolating the villagers from their land, near East Jerusalem and on land of the original part of the village which was occupied and destroyed by Zionist forces in 1948, and which is now annexed to parts of Gilo settlement. The villagers of al-Walaja have resisted the wall's construction and have tried to change its path by bringing the case to an Israeli court. On 8 November, Israel's high court suspended the construction of the wall near al-Walaja for 45 days, but the court also ruled that bulldozers can continue to excavate along the wall's path. 

Volvo bulldozers being used to build Israel's wall in al-Walaja village, occupied West Bank, June 2010. (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)

Israel's wall being built in al-Walaja village, December 2010. (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)

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#BDS: Gallery Patrons Ejected Over Gaza Flotilla T-Shirt

Activists were forced to leave the Gagosian gallery in New York on Dec. 18 for wearing t0shirts that read “Next Year in Jerusalem,” in English, Hebrew and Arabic on the front and “U.S. Boat to Gaza” and “The Audacity of Hope,” on the back.

Four activists were forced to leave an art gallery in New York this month for wearing T-shirts promoting an effort to include an American boat in the next blockade-challenging Gaza flotilla.
The incident came on the final day of an exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery called “Next Year in Jerusalem,” featuring pieces by the German artist Anselm Kiefer on the subject of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
The T-shirts worn by the activists repeated the show’s title, which is borrowed from a Jewish prayer, in English, Hebrew and Arabic, on the front and said “U.S. Boat to Gaza” and “The Audacity of Hope” on the back. (As The Lede explained in a previous post, the American activists plan to call their boat the Audacity of Hope, echoing the title of a book by President Obama.)
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#BDS: حاصر الحصار الإسرائيلي – عمر برغوتي

المقالة التالية هي ترجمة لمقالة عمر برغوتي، أحد مؤسسي حركة بي دي إس، وهي مقالة تعد من أفضل المقدمات لفكر الحركة وتاريخها وإنجازاتها. المقالة نشرت في 12 أغسطس 2010 في صحيفة الجارديان
على الرغم من الحصار الاسرائيلي لقطاع غزة ، وعمليات التشريد المتصاعدة في النقب والقدس الشرقية ، يوجد سبب للاحتفال لدى الفلسطينيين. في واشنطن صوت اتحاد غذئي تعاوني بالموافقة على قرار يدعو لمقاطعة المنتجات الإسرائيلية ، مؤكدا أن حركة المقاطعة — التي لم يتعد عمرها خمس سنوات في الشهر الماضي — قد عبرت المحيط الأطلسي أخيرا. وجاء الدعم لهذه الخطوة من الشخصيات البارزة بما في ذلك الحائزين على جائزة نوبل للسلام ديزموند توتو (الجنوب أفريقي) وميريد ماغواير (اﻷيرلندية) ، وريتشارد فالك ، المقرر الخاص للامم المتحدة في الاراضي الفلسطينية.
انطلقت حركة المقاطعة وسحب الاستثمارات وفرض العقوبات ضد إسرائيل (بي دي إس) في عام 2005 ، بعد عام واحد بعد أن حكمت محكمة العدل الدولية أن الجدار الإسرائيلي والمستعمرات التي بنيت على الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة غير شرعية. أكثر من 170 من الأحزاب السياسية الفلسطينية والنقابات والحركات الجماهيرية والمنظمات غير الحكومية أيدت الحركة التي تقودها لجنة التوجيه الوطنية، وهي ائتلاف من منظمات المجتمع المدني.
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#BDS: BDS 2010: More powerful than the sword

Boycott Divestment and Sanctions is a two-edged sword, bringing relief to starving Gazans, and starvation to the occupier, discovers Eric Walberg

December 28, 2010

It was two years ago today, 27 December, that Israel launched its invasion of Gaza, carrying out 22 days of murder and mayhem, killing 1400 and leaving 5400 civilians crippled for life. Since then it has continued to besiege the 1.5 million Gazans, causing hundreds more unnecessary deaths. Its actions were deemed war crimes by the UN Goldstone Report.

Israel remains unpunished, hiding behind the skirts of its US lobbyists, who put unremitting pressure on every single congressman, senator and the president to prevent any condemnation of its crimes.

But its attempt to cow the Palestinians have failed. What Israel has succeeding in doing is to confirm beyond a doubt, for millions around the world, its inhuman, racist agenda.

The past two years have witnessed an awakening of world citizens to the plight of the brave Gazans. There have been more than a dozen convoys and flotillas, including Free Gaza boats that broke the siege five times, the Gaza Freedom March, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla — people of all faiths and nationalities risking life and limb to bring Gazans emergency help.

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#BDS: Response to J Street statement about Seattle Ad Campaign

Written by Peter Miller, AUPHR 
Thursday, 23 December 2010

Dear J Street -

I am very troubled by your public statement to the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign to drop their ad campaign "Israeli War Crimes - Your Tax Dollars at Work."

First off, the Seattle Campaign is being attacked in an extremely reactionary way with open calls to limit the freedom of speech and deny debate and ignore Palestinian rights while invoking the usual canard of anti-Semitism. In short, it is business as usual for the Israel right or wrong crowd. Rather than mention these threats to our democratic ideals and the expression of open discussion, you seem to put yourself on the side of those who threaten free speech and continue to deny Palestinians their rights.

Second, Israel is rapidly expanding its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and still maintaining a damaging siege on the people of Gaza. Palestinian families are being thrown out into the street and their homes are being demolished. Racism is gaining ground in Israel as government Rabbis issue edicts that Jews should not rent to Arabs. I would hope that J Street would pay more attention to these actions and behaviors, surely designed to frustrate and destroy J Street's own stated goal: a two state solution.

Third, you say that the ad campaign accuses "Israel of utilizing U.S. aid to commit war crimes" as if to imply that Israel has not done so. Certainly if you peruse the Goldstone report, read reports by Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, go to B'tselem's web site, or read reports of Breaking the Silence of Israeli soldiers, you can see plenty of actions and behavior that are surely illegal under international law. U.S. weapons and equipment like Caterpillar bulldozers have been instrumental in this behavior. Why set your organization up as denying this?

Fourth, you insist that the entire Palestine-Israel peace movement drop everything it may be doing and "focus their energies on supporting the bold, assertive American leadership necessary to end the conflict." Many of us have watched the Obama administration flail about while Netanyahu openly insults the US administration and moves full steam ahead with settlements. Decades of successive U.S. governments have neglected Palestinian rights and ignored Israeli abuses. When do you think a "bold, assertive, American leadership" will arise? In ten years? In twenty? How about under a right-wing Republican administration? Essentially you are asking Palestinians and those seeking solidarity with Palestinians to give over to the unrealistic hope of change from above with absolutely no evidence to show that it will be effective. According to J Street, the non-violent tools of direct action, BDS, public engagement and challenging, in short anything that will hold Israeli policies to account must be surrendered.

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#BDS: On the Second Anniversary of Israel’s Bloodbath in Gaza: End International Complicity, Intensify BDS

Occupied Palestine, 27 December 2010 – On the morning of 27 December 2008 Israeli forces initiated a 23-day military offensive against the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip killing more than 1400 and injuring over 5000 Palestinians, predominantly civilians and refugees since 1948. Two years have passed and those responsible for the atrocities committed have not yet been held accountable. The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on conscientious people and organizations around the world to step up efforts to end Israel’s long record of impunity through boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) until international law and Palestinian rights are upheld.

The UN Goldstone report -- endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, UN General Assembly, European Parliament, Arab League, among others -- found serious evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated mainly by Israel against the occupied Palestinian population in Gaza. The findings of the Mission confirmed earlier investigations conducted by independent Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations. The Goldstone report called for credible and independent investigation and prosecution of those responsible, and for reparations for the victims. It called upon the United Nations and its members to activate international judicial mechanisms, should domestic measures fail to meet the required international standards. In the two years since Israel's “Operation Cast Lead”, no effective judicial investigations have been conducted into the conflict, and Israel has refused to cooperate with the UN Fact Finding Mission. Referring to "structural flaws" in the so-called Israeli justice system, the Goldstone report concluded that Israel cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards1. In such situations, international law demands recourse to international judicial mechanisms. States blatantly shielding Israel from international legal scrutiny, chiefly the US and some European governments, have thwarted Palestinian recourse to international justice mechanisms, highlighting the need more than ever for intensifying the global BDS movement’s efforts to end Israel’s impunity and Western complicity in perpetuating it.
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#BDS: UN chief attacks 'alienating' BDS

The head of the UN's relief agency in Gaza has criticised the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and called for the release of Gilad Shalit.
UNRWA head John Ging was interviewed in front of a packed audience on Monday during the week-long Limmud conference, held at Warwick University.
Though he reserved particular criticism for Israel's "counterproductive" blockade of Gaza, Mr Ging struck
a conciliatory tone, acknowledging the low opinion of UNRWA in Israel and in the diaspora.
On BDS, he said: "In my personal and professional opinion, what we need are interventions that draw out the positive, that don't alienate.
"We have a very emotive, volatile situation in the Middle East and people are despairing of the situation. Coming with more pressure, in my view, is not going to be effective."
Mr Ging called Gilad Shalit's capture a "tragedy" and noted that he was being "held captive without respect for the Geneva Convention".
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#BDS: خليل الرحمن تقاوم الاستيطان وتدعو لمقاطعة كافة منتجات الاحتلال

شهدت شوارع مدينة الخليل الاثنين، حملة قوية تنادي بمقاطعة كافة منتجات الاحتلال الاسرائيلي التي لها بدائل وطنية او عربية او اجنبية، قامت بتنظيمها "مؤسسة الاغاثة الزراعية الفلسطينية" بمشاركة "جمعية مزارعي محافظة الخليل" و"جمعية تنمية المرأة الريفية"، وشارك في الحملة اكثر من 100 من أهالي المدينة وعدد من المزارعين، وحملوا الرايات الفلسطينية واللافتات التي تنادي بالمقاطعة وتدعو المواطنين للامتناع عن شراء البضائع الاسرائيلية.

ودعا المشاركون بالحملة التجار لعدم تسويق هذه المنتجات بهدف الحاق الخسارة باقتصاد المحتلين وتعزيز الاقتصاد الوطني الفلسطيني على طريق انعتاقه من هيمنة الاقتصاد الاسرائيلي.

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