BDS roundup: Activists to protest major fundraiser for the Israeli army

Palestinians in al-Mufaqara, West Bank, search through the rubble of a mosque after it was demolished by the Israeli army, 4 December. 

Mamoun Wazwaz APA images

In this latest BDS roundup: Activists gather in Los Angeles to protest a fundraiser for the Israeli army; African American human rights and civil rights activists encourage Stevie Wonder to join the BDS movement; and the graduate students’ association at York University in Toronto adopt a BDS resolution.

Activists to protest fundraiser for Israeli soldiers on Thursday, 6 December

- Los Angeles, California: Nearly a week after music legend Stevie Wonder pulled out of a performance to benefit the Friends of the IDF, an organization which raises money for Israeli soldiers, activists in Southern California will hold a protest to keep up the pressure against the event itself.

Activists affiliated with dozens of human rights, civil rights and Palestine solidarity organizations say they will hold a mock funeral procession in front of the venue where the event is taking place. Protesters will wear signs bearing the names and ages of those killed in Israel’s most recent series of bombing attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The organizers of the protest, which will be held on Thursday, 6 December (tomorrow) in front of the Hyatt Century Plaza, say that featured speakers at the demonstration will include Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son; Shakeel Syed, Steering Committee member of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation; and Huda Bayaa of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and Occupy Whittier.

Peled remarked in the press release for the event:

“I served in the [Israeli army], my father was a general in the [Israeli army] during the 1967 war … The [Israeli army] today is one of the best armed and best financed terror organizations in the world, responsible for the death of countless innocent Palestinians.”

African American activists urge Stevie Wonder to join BDS

Following Stevie Wonder’s cancellation of his performance at the Israeli army benefit, members of the Interfaith Peace-Builders’ African Heritage Delegations to Palestine/Israel, the 2012 Dorothy Cotton Institute Civil & Human Rights Delegation, other African American IFPB delegates, and allies have written a letter to Wonder thanking him and asking him to join the Palestinian-led BDS movement.

The letter reads, in part:

Dear Mr. Wonder:

We, members of Interfaith Peace Builders’ (IFPB) 2011 and 2012 African Heritage Delegations, the 2012 Dorothy Cotton Institute Civil & Human Rights Delegation, other IFPB delegates of African heritage, and allies, thank you for canceling your performance at the [Israeli army]’s fundraiser planned for December 6, 2012 in Los Angeles.

We are African Americans who traveled to Palestine/Israel to meet with people working for peace and justice. We represent the rich diversity of Black America. We are multi-generational and interfaith; activists, community organizers, and scholars; youth, elders, parents, and everyday people. We yearn for peace, love, prosperity, and respect for all humanity.

… As African Americans, we visited Palestine/Israel and witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of occupation, injustice and crimes against humanity heaped upon the Palestinians by the [Israeli army]. We traveled from military checkpoint to military checkpoint and witnessed armed soldiers of the IDF check papers and harass Palestinian civilians; we witnessed Israeli-only settlements and roads; we spoke with Israeli settlers who had forced Palestinians out of their homes; and we witnessed the daily humiliations of Palestinian men, women and children.

Some of us grew up in the Jim Crow South. The parallels between what we lived and what we witnessed in Palestine/Israel were uncomfortably reminiscent of our own experiences.

Some of us participated in the movement against Apartheid in South Africa and quickly made the same connections as Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In his essay, Apartheid in the Holy Land, Archbishop Tutu explains: “I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded 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 us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.”

… We commend you for joining in the movement that ultimately helped topple the Apartheid regime in South Africa. We invite you to stand with us against all manifestations of legalized racial oppression just as vigorously today.

Thank you, Brother Stevie, for withdrawing your name from the IDF fundraiser. In doing so, we believe you acted bravely in the cause of peace and justice. We ask you to continue your activism holistically; join with allies in Jewish and Arab communities, but do so in order to build and support the movement for human rights and an end to Israel’s military occupation and Apartheid.

… We ask you to bring the same passion for peace and justice to the fight against Apartheid in Palestine/Israel as you brought to the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa.

And finally, Brother Stevie, we ask you to join the international movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Join the global community of people committed to supporting the right of the Palestinian people to live as fully recognized equals in their own land.

York University graduate students endorse BDS campaign

- Toronto, Canada: In mid-November, during Israel’s week of bombings of Gaza, the York University Graduate Students’ Association (YUGSA) voted in favor of a resolution to support BDS. In a press release emailed to The Electronic Intifada, students say that the resolution was passed 29-7 and, according to Wangui Kimari, Vice President of Campaigns of the YUGSA executive, “specifically [urged] the University to withdraw its investments from Hewlett Packard, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and other companies profiting from Israeli human rights violations, war crimes and oppression.”

The press release added that “YUGSA represents over 6,100 graduate students at York University, Canada’s third largest University.”

Mona Ayyoub of Students Against Israeli Apartheid-York said in the press release that “It is important for organizations to not pretend to be neutral while profiting from human rights violations. And we, as students, need to take a stand against apartheid wherever it exists, from Canada to Palestine.”

Moreover, SAIA York stated that following the graduate student association’s vote, it plans “to continue to educate the York University community about the BDS campaign and is working on a petition to encourage York University’s undergraduate students’ union, the largest students’ union in Canada, to endorse the BDS motion later this school year.”

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



Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).