blog-BDS-WISSAM-NASSAR-MaanImages.jpg

(Wissam Nassar / Maan Images)

BDS roundup: boycott campaign overwhelmingly endorsed by grad student association at Canadian university

In this latest roundup of news from the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement:

  • Montreal’s Concordia University’s Graduate Students’ Association overwhelmingly votes in favor of BDS resolution,
  • a South African toy store cuts ties to the Jewish National Fund,
  • the Palestinian BDS campaign urges two writers and a musician to reject Israeli apartheid and cancel their scheduled appearances,
  • trance musicians urged to respect boycott call, cancel gigs in Israel,
  • and Sodastream boycott campaigns are heating up.

Montreal’s Concordia University’s Graduate Students’ Association overwhelmingly votes in favor of BDS resolution

- Montreal, Quebec: The Concordia Graduate Students’ Association has passed a resolution in favor of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement this week, following similar pro-BDS resolutions by graduate student unions at the University of Toronto and York University in recent months.

The students “voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution to endorse, promote, and participate in the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel,” according to a press release from the Concordia Graduate Students’ Association.

The press release adds:

Graduate students at the assembly considered arguments for and against ratifying the elected GSA Council of Directors’ December 2012 decision to participate in the growing global movement to pressure the State of Israel to recognize the sovereignty of the Palestinian people.

The resolution read as follows: “Be it resolved that the GSA General Assembly ratify the GSA Council of Directors’ decision and endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against the State of Israel until it respects international law and ends its apartheid system.” In response to the membership’s desire for more discussion and information about BDS and how Concordia can participate, the GSA will establish a permanent committee to educate students and mobilize support for the campaign on- and off-campus.

An information campaign, including a discussion panel with academics, authors and students who have conducted intensive work and research in the area of BDS, Israeli apartheid and the complicity of the Canadian government, preceded the General Assembly vote.

The General Assembly’s ratification formalizes the GSA’s support of Palestinian rights and opposition to Israel’s illegal occupation and violations of international law under the Geneva Conventions and United Nations resolutions.

The GSA joins associations at the University of Toronto, York University, University of Regina, Carleton University and universities around the world that have all passed similar resolutions.

South African toy store cuts ties to the Jewish National Fund

- South Africa: Activism group Stop the JNF-South Africa released a press statement last week announcing that a major national toy retailer, Reggies, has decided to end its previous support of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The JNF is a Zionist organization that pre-dates the establishment of the state of Israel and helped orchestrate the displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba. Today, it currently uses “tree planting” initiatives as a cover for uprooting Palestinians from their land, most notably in the Naqab (Negev) desert.

The Stop the JNF-South Africa press release states:

The new owners of South Africa’s major toy retailer, “Reggies,” Mr. Christian Larsen and Mr. Mohsin Mia, have gone on record confirming that Reggies Toy Stores have ended their relationship with the Jewish National Fund (JNF), an Israeli para-statal directly involved in Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. Reggies Toy Stores had previously endorsed, partnered and financially-contributed to Israel’s JNF.

… This decision by Reggies Toy Stores follows and is a result of nationwide South African protests and other activism against Reggies Toy Stores. Making headlines late last year, hundreds of South Africans of all races and religions protested against the South African company’s support for the JNF and its complicity in Israel’s forced removals of the Palestinians.

… Shereen Usdin, from the StopTheJNF South Africa chapter, has welcomed the decision by Reggies Toy Stores to drop the JNF: “We warmly welcome the position taken by Reggies to end its endorsement and financial support to the Jewish National Fund (JNF). Reggies has chosen to stand on the right side of history by taking this ethical position and should be commended. However, the larger StopTheJNF campaign will continue for as long as the JNF operates in South Africa. We are in the process of approaching other South African organisations and companies with ties to the JNF to highlight and inform them of the human rights violations that they are linked to by way of the JNF.”

Palestinian BDS campaign urges two writers and a musician to reject Israeli apartheid and cancel scheduled appearances

- Palestine: Three separate appeals written by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) have been posted in the last week, urging two writers and a music star to cancel their upcoming appearances and performances in Israel.

In an open letter to Spanish writer Antonio Munoz Molina, PACBI states that they view “with great disappointment your upcoming trip to Jerusalem next month to receive the so-called Jerusalem prize from the Israeli president and mayor of Jerusalem, both deeply implicated in grave violations of human rights and international law. We hope that a personal appeal from us, a grassroots campaign that enjoys overwhelming consensus amongst Palestinian civil society, will convince you to decline this prize.”

PACBI adds:

The book fair you will be attending is sponsored by the Jerusalem Municipality, a key node in the official Israeli structure of colonialism and apartheid, and a leading violator of Palestinian rights. The Municipality has, since its inception, been a major instrument in the colonization of Israeli-occupied Jerusalem, in contravention of international law. It is particularly notable for its role in promoting and deepening one of the starkest cases of urban apartheid in the world. The municipality continues to be actively involved in the illegal gradual ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians out of Jerusalem, the demolition of Palestinian homes and destruction of property, and the sustained suppression of development in the Palestinian neighborhoods as a matter of policy.

Another open letter by PACBI addresses Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto Moura, who is due to arrive in Israel to accept the Israeli Wolf Prize in May from Israeli President Shimon Peres.

PACBI states, in part:

We appeal to you to reject this prize, and to reflect upon the implications of your acceptance of this recognition from an apartheid and colonial state.

You will be receiving this prize personally from the president of a state that has for more than six decades imposed a colonial and apartheid regime on the people of Palestine, and has for the last 46 years been ruling the people of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, by military force. As we write, Israel continues to build illegal Jewish-only colonies on occupied Palestinian land, and to institute an apartheid infrastructure including roads, blockades and the Apartheid Wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice at the Hague in 2004. Israel denies millions of Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their lands, as stipulated in UN resolutions. Moreover, it maintains a system of racial discrimination against its own Palestinian citizens.

The man who will be bestowing the prize upon you, Shimon Peres, has a public record of implication in war crimes and other grave violations of human rights.

… Peres presides over a state that continues to build illegal colonies on occupied land, and an elaborate system of barriers, roadblocks, and road systems in pursuit of separation, segregation, and colonization. In this regard, we wish to draw your attention to the fact that architecture and related professional fields in Israel are deeply complicit in the design and implementation of the system of apartheid in Palestine. Your professional counterparts in Israel have not, as a body, dissociated themselves from the degradation of their profession and are thus complicit in their silence or active collusion with the system.

It is also timely that we draw your attention to an international group of conscientious architects and planners, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, who have been campaigning untiringly to challenge Israel’s continued membership in the International Union of Architects until such time as its architects and planners and their representative bodies respect the charter of the IUA and the precepts of international law.

And finally, PACBI is urging Ky-Mani Marley, son of legendary reggae icon and anti-racist activist Bob Marley, to cancel his scheduled performance in Tel Aviv next month.

PACBI states:

We … are deeply troubled to learn that you are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on February 20, 2013. We are writing to urge you to refrain from playing in apartheid Israel and not to condone Israel’s violations of international law and human rights against the Palestinian people.

As a reggae artist, and son of the legendary singer Bob Marley who’s “Songs of Freedom” continue to inspire millions of people struggling against the inhuman forces of racist oppression, we ask you not to turn a blind eye to Israel’s brutal colonial and apartheid system.

You may not know this but for over 60 years Palestinians have faced one of the most pernicious systems of radicalized oppression. The state of Israel was created in 1948 by systematically dispossessing and ethnically cleansing more than 750,000 Palestinian people in order to form a supremacist Jewish state; Israel has denied Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their homes and their lands. Israel also continues to expel people from their homes in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev). Today, there are more than 7 million Palestinian refugees still struggling for their right to return to their homes, like all refugees around the world.

… Your plans to perform in apartheid Israel come at a time when international support for the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel has been growing. Stevie Wonder has recently cancelled a performance at a fundraiser for the Israeli army after he came under intense pressure from people of conscience throughout the world, including our allies in the African American community, for his ill-conceived plans to support an army that is an instrument of colonial terror and has perpetrated numerous massacres against the Palestinians. We hope that you will follow Stevie Wonder’s example and cancel your performance.

For more on PACBI’s appeals and statements, visit pacbi.org.

Trance musicians urged to respect boycott call, cancel gigs in Israel

- Worldwide: A Facebook page has been set up to call upon trance musicians and DJs not to break the boycott. The group, Trance Addicts Against Israeli Apartheid, has several campaigns currently running to advocate the BDS call and encourage trance artists to cancel their gigs — mainly at Tel Aviv nightclubs.

Trance group Above & Beyond is due to play in Tel Aviv in February, and there is a letter and petition posted on the Trance Addicts Against Israeli Apartheid Facebook page calling on them to cancel their gig.

Sodastream boycott campaigns heating up

- United States: More videos have been added to the list of spoof advertisements of Sodastream products, the carbonated drink makers that are made in the industrial zone inside the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Eddumim in the occupied West Bank.

As The Electronic Intifada recently reported, Sodastream has bought a 30-second spot in a commercial break during the Super Bowl (the annual championship game of the National Football League in the US) — which is the most-watched television event in the United States. Advertisements during the Super Bowl can cost millions of dollars each.

Gearing up for the Super Bowl, which happens this Sunday, 3 February, boycott activists around the world have begun filming spoof advertisement videos for Sodastream as part of an ongoing effort to expose the company’s profiteering from Israeli colonization in the West Bank.

At least six spoof Sodastream videos can be watched on YouTube here.

For more information on the Sodastream Super Bowl ad spoof campaign, visit the website for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Meanwhile, a newly-formed interfaith coalition focusing on the ongoing Sodastream boycott campaign has announced that its first action will coincide with the Super Bowl protest.

In a press release, the Interfaith Boycott Coalition officially called for a boycott of Sodastream products and added:

By operating in a settlement, SodaStream directly sustains Israel’s illegal and discriminatory settlement policy. “We are asking consumers not to buy SodaStream products because doing so enriches those who violate international law, thereby damaging prospects for peace,” said the Rev. Don Wagner, coalition spokesperson. “Instead, we’re also urging people to ask store owners to remove SodaStream from their shelves. By opposing products made in settlements, we are working for justice and equal rights for everyone in the Middle East.”

In 2012, the policy-making bodies of the Global United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church USA each voted to boycott products made in Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine. The Interfaith Boycott Coalition, formed later that year, includes representatives of Jewish, Muslim, and additional Christian faith-based organizations sharing the common goal of ending Israel’s long-standing military occupation and realizing a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

The Interfaith Boycott Coalition operates as a network of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and includes the organizations Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, American Friends Service Committee, Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, Friends of Sabeel North America, United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network, Church of the Brethren, United Methodist Kairos Response and members of the Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Mennonite and Quaker traditions. It is a project of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a coalition of nearly 400 social justice organizations.

More recent BDS news from our Activism and BDS Beat section: