Activism and BDS Beat 20 March 2013
In this latest roundup of news from the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement:
- Scottish county council passes resolution to “resist … action that gives political or economic support” to Israel
- University of Dundee students vote to cut ties with British-Danish security firm G4S
- Students walk out of event sponsored by StandWithUS featuring Israeli soldiers, leaving auditorium nearly empty
- Stanford University students “hail significant milestone in push for divestment” even as vote fails
- South African boycott activists disrupt Israeli Embassy-sponsored concert during Israeli Apartheid Week
- Boston activist groups contfront Sodastream CEO
- Dutch government announces new retail guidelines to label settlement products
- Activists to Ben & Jerry’s: Peace, love and occupation?
- Appeals to musicians to respect cultural boycott call
- Palestinians to commemorate Land Day on 30 March
Scottish county council passes resolution to “resist … action that gives political or economic support” to Israel
- Clackmannashire county, Scotland: A motion was passed on 14 March by the county council condemning Israel’s occupation and resolving to “to resist, insofar as legislative considerations permit, any action that gives political or economic support to the State of Israel.”
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign posted on its website that the motion “was passed nem con by a meeting of the full Council, with only three abstentions (one Labour, one SNP, and the lone Tory).”
The full motion reads:
Clackmannanshire Council condemns the Government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of Palestine’s East Jerusalem and the West Bank and for its continuing illegal blockade of Gaza.
Clackmannanshire Council welcomes the decision of the United Nations on 29 November 2012 to grant “non member observer State” to Palestine.
However, for the people of Palestine, the suffering of the last 64 years continues as the Government of Israel continues to ignore and breach international law. Just as individual sanctions against apartheid in South Africa led ultimately to its demise there, so individual and collective sanctions against the state of Israel will end apartheid and suffering in Palestine.
Clackmannanshire Council therefore resolves to resist, insofar as legislative considerations permit, any action that gives political or economic support to the State of Israel.
In December 2010, the city council of Stirling, Scotland, voted for a comprehensive boycott campaign.
University of Dundee students vote to cut ties with British-Danish security firm G4S
Dundee, Scotland: In other news from Scotland, the Dundee University Students Association (DUSA) voted overwhelmingly in favor of a motion to sever ties with G4S, the British-Danish private security firm which contracts with Israeli prisons, checkpoints and settlements.
The motion, which was passed on 26 February, states, in part:
- That fundamental human rights and international law should be acknowledged and adhered to by states and corporations.
- That our university students association should not, therefore, have any links – commercial or otherwise – to G4S given its complicity in human rights violations.
- To allow any currently existing contract or commercial link to G4S to expire and to outsource from a different service provider.
- To include information on its website – accessible to all students – explaining the nature of its relationship to G4S until, at the earlier, DUSA ends its contracts with the company.
- Not to take out any contract with G4S in the future.
- To call upon the University as a whole to divest from any holdings it may have in G4S.
The Action Palestine Society at the University of Dundee stated in a post:
This move comes as students are increasing pressure across Europe to have their universities recognize G4S as a key corporate beneficiary in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and to cease doing business with the company. In December 2012, the University of Oslo decided to terminate its contract with G4S after a campaign by students of the university’s Palestine Committee.
More recently, in February this year, Queen Mary Students’ Union in London voted overwhelmingly to allow the university’s G4S contract to expire, on the grounds of the company’s profiteering from Israeli war crimes. The vote in DUSA [Dundee University Students Association] is the latest in the growing campaign to boycott G4S.
Students walk out of event sponsored by StandWithUS featuring Israeli soldiers, leaving auditorium nearly empty
- New Orleans, Louisiana: Students at the University of New Orleans (UNO) staged a silent walkout protest during an event featuring two Israeli soldiers and reportedly organized by Israel lobby group StandWithUs and the local campus organization Allies of Israel.
On 28 February, approximately 50 students sat down in the lecture hall as the event started at 12:30pm, intending to stage the silent walkout 15 minutes after the event began.
Reem Rimawi, a second-year business administration major at UNO, told The Electronic Intifada that she had seen a video of a similar protest at the University of Michigan in 2010, in which students walked out of an event with two Israeli soldiers organized by StandWithUS.
“We thought this would be an opportunity,” said Rimawi, adding that the walkout wasn’t organized by any particular activism or Palestine solidarity group on campus. “We all walked in with red t-shirts, and the names of dead Palestinian children on pieces of paper [attached to the shirts], with our sweaters zipped up. I stood up first, and unzipped my sweater, and then everyone did the same. Then we were silent, and at 12:45 we got up and walked out.”
As the above video shows, only about ten persons remained in the lecture hall after the walkout. Rimawi explained that of those who stayed, five were in a group of Palesinian students “who weren’t too happy with silence idea … they stayed behind, and during question and answer portion, they asked questions and challenged the soldiers,” she said.
Stanford University students “hail significant milestone in push for divestment” even as vote fails
- Stanford, California: While a divestment bill put forth by Stanford University’s Students for Palestinian Equal Rights ultimately failed to pass on 5 March, students involved in the campaign are celebrating the “powerful show of solidarity” that assembled at the undergraduate senate meeting.
In a press release, Students for Palestinian Equal Rights stated:
In a powerful show of solidarity, over 75 Stanford students turned out Tuesday evening to express support for the campaign calling for Stanford University’s Board of Trustees to divest from a set of companies that violate international law and abuse human rights in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The students hailed over the two dozen student groups, including the NAACP, Stanford Students for Queer Liberation, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), Stanford Says No to War, Asian American Student Association, the Stanford Labor Action Coalition, and the Black Student Union. These were among the 10 student groups that spoke strongly in favor of divestment at a Senate meeting the previous week.
While the divestment bill put forward by Students for Palestinian Equal Rights did not pass, the Associated Students of Stanford University Undergraduate Senate passed a separate resolution expressing its firm stance against investment in companies that cause “substantial social injury.” It further called on the Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing to review the University’s investments to ensure compliance with the University’s Statement on Investment Responsibility.
Meanwhile, on 6 March, the student government at the University of California at Riverside passed a divestment resolution; and a week later, on 13 March, the University of California at San Diego’s student government did the same.
South African boycott activists disrupt Israeli Embassy-sponsored concert during Israeli Apartheid Week
- Johannesburg, South Africa: Boycott activists around South Africa engaged in a week of actions during Israeli Apartheid Week, the international series of events meant to educate the wider public about Israel’s occupation and policies against Palestinians.
Included in the actions was a disruption — and eventual cancelation — of a concert at the University of the Witswatersrand (Wits) which was sponsored by the Israeli Embassy. On 13 March, the Wits University Palestine Solidarity Committee stated in a press release that the night before,
15 minutes into what was going to be a 90-minute scheduled concert by Israel’s Yossi Reshef, Wits University students in Johannesburg stormed the concert venue, disrupted Reshef’s performance and as a result forced the organizers to cancel the event. The cancellation was celebrated by the protesting students as a “cultural boycott of Israel success.”
The press release added:
Kenneth Mgaga, a politics student who was present at the protest, explains: “The Reshef performance, which was funded by the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria, was a clear violation of the cultural boycott of Israel. In weeks prior to the concert, our Student Representative Council (SRC), had repeatedly raised this concern with the organizers as well as relevant university authorities. However, neither the organizers nor the University Management responded to our SRC’s letters. Thus students embarked on last night’s protest action, to much success.”
In August 2012, the Wits University Student Representative Council (Wits SRC) became the first South African SRC to adopt a full academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
… Mgaga further comments: “The hosting of Reshef in South Africa is a direct attempt to undermine the Israeli Apartheid Week campaign. Last year the Israeli government sent Israeli “Public Relation envoys” to our campuses during Israeli Apartheid Week to ‘educate’ us. This year they’ve decided on a different approach, either way, we stand firm in our solidarity with the Palestinians against Israel and its apartheid policies.”
Various calls have been made for the protest and boycott of Reshef, including one by the Youth League of the African National Congress (ANC). Abner Mosase, the International Relations Secretary of the ANC Youth League said in a statement: “[W]e condemn the coming of the Israeli pianist Yossi Reshef at Wits University and other parts of the country who is clearly sponsored by the Israeli government. We call on all students to boycott the concert as it only seeks to normalize apartheid Israel. No one must be seen singing with [Israeli] apartheid, particularly in South Africa where we have seen what apartheid policies can do.”
Boston activist groups contfront Sodastream CEO
- Boston, Massachusetts, US: Activists with Jewish Voice for Peace and The American Friends Service Committee held a protest on 6 March outside the Deutsche Bank Consumer, Retail, Gaming & Lodging Conference, where Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum was presenting.
Sodastream beverage makers are produced in the illegal Mishor Eddumim settlement colony in the occupied West Bank, but label their products as “made in Israel.” In a joint press release emailed to The Electronic Intifada, Jewish Voice for Peace and The American Friends Service Committee stated:
While Birnbaum discussed the company’s corporate strategy, community activists outside the window and in the room drew attention to the company’sviolation of international law in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
Activists chanted slogans like “Occupation is obscene! Boycott, boycott SodaStream” outside the window, and distributed literature to conference attendees. One activist entered the room to present Birnbaum with an award for “Occupation-Profiteer of the Year,” but was not allowed to reach the podium.
“SodaStream’s CEO profits from human rights violations, and potential investors should be aware of that risk,” said Jewish Voice for Peace organizer Liza Behrendt. “We must hold Birnbaum accountable for preventing peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”
… [Sodastream] has a history of abusive labor practices, taking advantage of a captive Palestinian workforce and dismissing workers who protest conditions. SodaStream faces increasing pressure from boycott campaigns around the world.
Dutch government announces new retail guidelines to label settlement products
- The Netherlands: The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) stated on 9 March that the Dutch government “has announced that it will introduce new guidance calling on retailers to label fresh produce from illegal Israeli settlements in a way that distinguishes it from products originating inside Israel.” With this move, the Netherlands is now the latest country to take action against the Israeli settlement industry.
The BNC added, in part:
“We do not want to contribute to the economy of the illegal settlements,” said foreign minister Frans Timmermans in a statement to parliament.
The Netherlands is a key destination for Israeli fresh produce, with many of the main Israeli agricultural export companies operating subsidiaries and distribution centers in the country. The guidance will be voluntary and no action will be taken against retailers that do not follow it.
The Dutch move follows similar steps by the governments of the UK, Denmark and South Africa and a letter sent by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on February 22 to all EU foreign ministers calling on EU member states to implement labeling of settlement produce in accordance with a May 2012 decision of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.
Zaid Shuaibi, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, a wide coalition of the largest Palestinian mass organizations, trade unions and networks, said:
“It is truly heartening to see that European governments are starting to match their condemnation of Israel’s continued settlement expansion and the resulting human rights abuses with action targeting the financial transactions that allow illegal Israeli settlements to flourish. The level of coordination between European governments on this issue is unprecedented and is a result of determined and effective campaigning by European grassroots networks, trade unions and NGOs.”
Shuaibi continues: “The construction of settlements constitutes a war crime and European governments are breaking their own obligations under international law by allowing settlement trade to continue. While a welcome first step, non-binding labeling guidance does little to practically end the exports of settlement produce to European markets on which many illegal settlements depend. European governments should implement effective legislation banning all trade that sustains settlements.”
A recent report released by the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem recommended that the EU “prevent, discourage and raise awareness about problematic implications of financial transactions … from within the EU in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services.”
Dawood Hammoudeh, Executive Manager of the Palestinian Farmers Union, one of 16 Palestinian agricultural and civil society organizations that recently issued an appeal for governments and retailers to take action against companies exporting from settlements, said:
“As long as trade with Israeli settlement exporters such as Mehadrin and Hadiklaim is permitted, Palestinian farmers will continue to be forced from their land to make way for crops grown by illegal Israeli settlements for export to European supermarkets.”
Activists to Ben & Jerry’s: Peace, love and occupation?
- Vermont, US: Activists with Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (VTJP) have launched a campaign calling on the famous ice cream company to “end the marketing, catering and sales of Ben & Jerry’s products in Israel and Jewish-only settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
Additionally, the group is appealing to the company to “stop manufacturing ice cream in Israel,” and issue a statement “calling on Israel to end its occupation and settlement enterprise and appealing directly to other socially responsible companies to do likewise and to cease business operations in Israel and its illegal settlements” until Israel ends its occupation and settler-colonial project on Palestinian land, and complies with international law.
VTJP added in its online report that it has learned that:
Ben & Jerry’s franchise in Israel is manufacturing ice cream and selling it in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Additionally, in 2010, as Israel was expanding its illegal settlements and continuing to impose an inhuman siege on Gaza, Ben & Jerry’s opened a new factory in Israel and announced plans to re-establish 16 new stores and kiosks across the country.
Water abstraction and allocation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is under Israel’s control. The manufacturing of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel may involve diversion of much needed drinking water from Palestinian communities and farmers under occupation.
More on the Ben & Jerry’s campaign is on VTJP’s website.
Appeals to musicians to respect cultural boycott call
- Worldwide: In the wake of the cancelation of the Lollapalooza Israel concert, activists say that a new music festival — Plugfest — is being promoted for May. The boycott group Refrain Playing Israel notes that artists such as Lee “Scratch” Perry and Azealia Banks are scheduled to play, but activists are urging the artists not to break the international picket line.
A Facebook group has been set up to call on the artists to respect the boycott call.
Palestinians to commemorate Land Day on 30 March
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) posted the following statement preceding the 37th annual Land Day — the day when Israeli forces shot and killed six young Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in 1976. Each year, Palestinian citizens of Israel hold Land Day protests and rallies.
The BNC states:
These brave youth were among thousands protesting the Israeli government’s expropriation of Palestinian land. Today, we continue to celebrate Palestinian resistance to Israel’s ongoing land expropriation, colonization, occupation and apartheid.
Thirty-seven years after the first Land Day demonstrations, Israel continues its expropriation and colonization of Palestinian land. Israel continues to expand its illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, forcing Palestinians from their land. Palestinians also face dispossession and displacement inside Israel.
For international supporters of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, Land Day is an opportunity to develop campaigns for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, particularly campaigns targeting the Jewish National Fund, Israeli agribusinesses and companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements, all of which play a vital role in the continued theft of Palestinian land.
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) invites people of conscience across the world to join us in marking land day by highlighting BDS as an effective form of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
At a time when Israel is facing unprecedented levels of pressure over its continued colonization of Palestinian land and quickly losing the international support upon which it depends, let us work together to intensify our collective efforts to hold Israel and its supporters accountable.
If you are planning BDS activities to mark Land Day, please send in the details to info@BDSmovement.net
More recent BDS news from our Activism and BDS Beat blog:
After hard-fought battle, students celebrate divestment vote victory at UC San Diego
UEFA should cancel football tournament in Israel, says former French sports minister
UK students resist Israeli diplomats’ campus offensive, despite repression
Goldsmiths lecturer smears campus activists as anti-Semites on anti-boycott blog
During AIPAC conference, activists launch ad campaign to end $30 billion aid package to Israel
- University of Dundee
- settlement products
- University of New Orleans
- cultural boycott
- Stanford University
- University of California at Riverside
- University of California at San Diego
- Jewish Voice for Peace
- American Friends Service Committee
- The Netherlands
- Ben & Jerry's
- Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
- Land Day