In this roundup of latest news from the worldwide boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, activists gear up for the annual global BDS day of action; Glasgow University bans Israeli drinking water; Pinkwashing events canceled in Washington state; BDS campaigners urge major rock stars not to play in Israel; and more.
30 March: Land Day Commemoration and BDS Day of Action
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) has called for creative BDS-related actions and mobilizations on 30 March, to coincide with Land Day commemorations across Palestine and the diaspora.
Land Day is an important day of remembrance for six Palestinians with Israeli citizenship gunned down by Israeli forces in 1976 during a general strike in protest of expanded land confiscation. Every 30 March since, annual events have been held to honor those killed while highlighting the struggle for Palestinian land rights inside Israel, the Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, and across the global refugee diaspora.
Last year, as The Electronic Intifada reported, more than 60 cities across the globe incorporated BDS strategies and direct actions into their Land Day commemorations.
On the BDS movement website, the BNC is appealing to Palestine solidarity activists to strategize and organize collective, creative actions:
The BDS Global Day of Action is an opportunity to showcase the achievements of our diverse and global movement through visible and creative actions. The BNC calls on supporters of Palestinian rights to focus on developing thoroughly researched, broad based and strategic BDS campaigns that are based on the three operational principles of the movement: context-sensitivity, gradualness and sustainability. Developing such a long-term vision is essential for the growth and sustainable success of the movement.
… For information on how to join this global event and how to develop ongoing BDS action in your country, organization and network, please contact the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll be highlighting all of the day’s actions on the bdsmovement.net website, so please send any information about planned actions ahead of time to email@example.com.
On the day itself, let’s all use Twitter hashtag #bds to promote our actions and don’t forget to follow @bdsmovement to follow the action as it unfolds!
USACBI congratulates Carleton University on historic divestment vote
The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel issued a statement congratulating Ottowa’s Carleton University on their recent referendum to adopt an ethical investment policy and divest from companies that profit from Israel’s military occupation.
As Ali Abunimah reported on Friday, Carleton graduate students voted by an overwhelming majority to require the University to divest from “companies complicit in illegal military occupations and other violations of international law, including but not limited to: BAE Systems, Motorola, Northrop-Grumman, and Tesco Supermarkets.”
USACBI … sends hearty congratulations to the graduate students at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, for their March 21 and 22 landmark vote to divest from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We also congratulate SAIA (Students Against Israeli Apartheid) for their ongoing work to build a campus divestment movement at Carleton and across Canada.
Glasgow University drops Eden Springs water
After the relaunch of a targeted boycott campaign that began several years ago, the Glasgow University Palestine Society was able to mobilize student groups, the student council and staff to support a motion to cancel the university’s contract with Israeli-owned Eden Springs.
According to a press release from the Glasgow University Palestine Society, “Eden Springs UK [is] a subsidiary of Mayanot Eden, an Israeli company which extracts water from illegally occupied Golan Heights, bottling the water in nearby settlement Katzrin. Eden Springs has become a major target in the boycott, [divestment,] and sanctions movement across the UK and Europe, responding to the call from Palestinian civil society.”
Their press release adds:
The campaign consisted of public meetings, a student petition, an appeal for support to the Student Representatives Council, and a letter from staff at the University which voiced their support for the motion to cancel the contract. Following a report submitted to the University in January 2012, a meeting was arranged between members of the Society and the Principal of the University, Anton Muscatelli.
The meeting took place on 13th March 2012. The Principal assured the Palestine Society that the University acknowledged the concerns of the students and staff, and to this end would make a commitment to refraining from any future contract with Eden Springs.
The agreement from the University follows similar commitments from other Scottish Universities including Strathclyde University, Caledonian University, University of Edinburgh, Dundee University and others. Similar campaigns have been run at Universities and Colleges across the UK.
Glasgow University Palestine Society would like to thank everyone who supported the campaign by signing the student petition and staff letter. In addition to this, we would like to thank all of the individuals who assisted the campaign through offering advice and resources. Thanks also to individuals who endorsed the campaign, and organizations such as Boycott From Within for their endorsement.
We consider this success significant not just for Glasgow Palsoc, but for all groups campaigning for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israeli companies internationally. The Palestine Society at Glasgow University will continue to pursue BDS campaigns against Israeli companies, the existence of which propagates Israel’s ongoing system of occupation, apartheid and oppression of the Palestinian people.
Global water justice organization Blue Planet joins call for BDS
On 14 March, international water justice group Blue Planet officially endorsed the BDS movement following the release of a report co-authored by LifeSource, a grassroots Palestinian collective focusing on water rights under Israel’s occupation.
In their press release, Blue Planet and LifeSource state:
…We learn that Israel has been found guilty by independent UN bodies of violations of the human right to water, but these findings have not led to any improvement in the condition of Palestinians on the ground.
In fact, Israeli violations have been increasing. Israel is demolishing Palestinian water and sanitation infrastructure, cutting water to Palestinian communities and using military force to prevent Palestinians from drilling wells and accessing their fair share of transboundary water resources. Israel is drilling deep wells in the West Bank in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and exploiting underground water resources from deep wells inside of Israel in violation of its commitments under Oslo.
The authors make a compelling case for boycott, divestment and sanctions as a nonviolent means to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinians human right to water and sanitation.
“It is the recommendation of this report that global citizens continue boycott, divestment and sanctions and other forms of resistance that are proving successful in building a global movement, with the aim of generating a global consensus around defying Israel’s illegal restrictions on Palestinian water and sanitation development.”
Blue Planet is a leader in the global water justice movement. This report marks an important landmark in the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.
Human rights groups to diamond regulator: Ban Israeli diamonds that fund war crimes
A joint statement released by several international human rights and Palestine solidarity groups have called on the new chair and members of the international diamond regulatory system to ban the export of diamonds crafted in Israel.
In a press release statement, the groups urged the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme — which was set up “to end the trade in blood diamonds” — to stop the export of Israel’s diamonds because they “fund the Israeli military, which stands accused of war cromes and possible crimes against humanity by the UN Human Rights Council.”
The statement adds:
The groups expressed “great concern about the recent escalation of military attacks by Israeli forces against the defenceless, besieged residents of the Gaza strip which have killed at least 23 Palestinians, including two children. Scores of people have been injured, while thousands more have been terrorized and traumatized. With this horrific backdrop, we believe the time for action is now.
The jewellery industry is facilitating Israeli war crimes by allowing the trade in diamonds from Israel which generate around $1 billion per annum in funding for the Israeli military. The international community must act in a meaningful manner to end Israeli violations of international law; banning the export of Israeli diamonds would be a very important step in that direction.”
The statement calls on jewellers “not to sell diamonds from Israel which should be regarded as blood diamonds and to end the false and grossly misleading practice of claiming that diamonds which fund gross human rights violations by government forces are ‘conflict free.’” The statement ended by calling for support for this initiative from other organizations: “We ask human rights groups worldwide to pressure the diamond industry to isolate diamonds processed in Israel and not to allow the legitimate diamond market to be used as an economic shield to fund Israeli apartheid, occupation and war crimes.”
“Pinkwashing” events cancelled in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, Washington
Attempts by the Israeli government to promote Israel as a “queer-friendly” haven by building ties to LGBT communities in the US and elsewhere have failed this month in Washington state. LGBT activists rejected the propaganda scheme — which has been dubbed “pinkwashing” — because it “seeks to distract from Israel’s violations of international law and the inalienable human rights of the Palestinians, by touting itself as a haven of human righs for LGBTQ people.”
The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel reported in a press release that the LGBT Commission in Seattle canceled a “pinkwashing” event sponsored by the Israeli consulate and the right-wing Israeli advocacy group StandWithUs.
The press release adds:
The event, scheduled for March 16th at Seattle City Hall, is part of a West Coast tour designed to build ties between the Israeli government and LGBT communities.
… According to Nada Elia of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI): “Pinkwashing is part of ‘Brand Israel,’ an Israeli governmental public relations campaign. … Joel Lion, Israel’s consul for media affairs in New York City, recently acknowledged ‘gays are actually one of our target markets.’ USACBI organizes to educate people about such hasbara (propaganda), so that queer allies are not co-opted into the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.”
The decision to cancel the event was reached after testimony presented by Palestinian and Jewish LGBTQ community members who were concerned that the Commission chose to align itself with the Israeli government. “The city of Seattle prides itself as holding anti-racism and social justice principles in its mission, and tonight the commission affirmed those values,” said Selma al Aswad, a Palestinian-American and LGBTQ rights activist.
The LGBT Commission joins the Oasis and Rainbow Centers of Tacoma, and Kitzel’s Delicatessen in Olympia, in canceling events scheduled for this week. The events were co-sponsored by StandWithUs, a right-wing Israel advocacy group that is often criticized for anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiments within its official publications and outreach material.
Elizabeth Moore, member of the Olympia chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, stated, “StandWithUs has been behind many attacks within our community, including aiding in the lawsuit against the Olympia Food Co-op. We will not allow them to continue to intimidate and divide our community, and we will not support events that aim to normalize Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”
Dutch LGBT activists reject pinkwashing in Amsterdam
In other pinkwashing news, Dutch activists with the Queeristan collective organized a protest on 19 March during a screening of a film about a relationship between two Israeli soldiers at the Lebanon border during the 1980s.
On the evening of Monday March 19, activist collective Queeristan organized a protest at the film screening of “Yossi and Jagger” by Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox in cinema Kriterion in Amsterdam. The film displays the love between two Israeli Defense Force officials stationed at the Israel-Lebanon border in the 1980’s. During this war over 17,000 Palestinians and Lebanese were killed, of which the film makes no reference.
The activists interrupted the introduction to the film, hosted by the University of Amsterdam’s UvA Pride platform, shouting slogans such as “There is NO PRIDE in any army”; “There is NO PRIDE in Israeli occupation”; “There is NO PRIDE in Apartheid” and “Stop using gay rights to pinkwash war crimes.”
After their action the activists left the cinema, handing out flyers. The intervention was meant as a solidarity action to support the call of Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PQBDS). Additionally they wanted to pay attention to the Israeli state’s multimillion dollar pinkwashing campaign, which uses liberal gay rights to divert attention from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, apartheid within Israel itself, and Israel’s refusal of the UN sanctioned Right of Return for Palestinian Refugees.
They argue that talking about homosexuality in the Israeli army is part of the larger pinkwashing campaign that denies the rights of Palestinians.
Don’t Play Apartheid Israel campaign urges Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bruce Springsteen and Lenny Kravitz to cancel Israel gigs
Activists with the Don’t Play Apartheid Israel campaign have set up Facebook pages encouraging several major rock artists to cancel their upcoming performances in Israel.
The letter states:
Please cancel your gig in Israel’s Sun City, Tel Aviv. Don’t show your fans that you will let your band be used to legitimize home demolitions, illegal raids, the use of white phosphorous, political and child imprisonments, racist marriage bans, piracy and execution in international waters, collective punishment, occupation, checkpoints, roadblocks, and the bombing and closing of all manner of educational institutions.
DPAI has also set up a Facebook page bringing attention to Madonna’s hypocritical “Concert for Peace” as well, which is slated for May in spite of the boycott. The pop superstar recently announced a second performance at Ramat Gan stadium near Tel Aviv, and said she invited organizations “working for peace in the Middle East” to attend, according to Israeli daily Ynet.
Greek sports fans unravel huge “Freedom to Palestine” banner during basketball game against Israel’s Maccabi team
During a Euroleague playoff game between Greece’s Panathinaikos and Tel Aviv’s Maccabi basketball teams on 20 March in Athens, Greek activists unfurled a massive banner that read “Freedom to Palestine” while others waved Palestinian flags and other screenprinted banners. A video, posted above, shows footage of the protest action.
Maccabi lost this first playoff game 73-93.