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BDS@10: boycott movement leaders address press conference

Global BDS News - Thu, 07/09/2015 - 20:20

International figures and Palestinian leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement held a press conference in Ramallah this morning to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Palestinian civil society-led, global BDS movement.

Local and international journalists heard from a range of figures including Chief Mandla Mandela, member (ANC) of the South African Parliament and grandson to the late leader Nelson Mandela, Marcel Khalife, prominent Lebanese musician and UNESCO Artist for Peace, and Rebecca Vilkomerson, director of the US-based Jewish Voice for Peace.

Chief Mandla Mandela joined via video link and said:

“We are here as the Mandela family to give our unwavering support to the cause of the Palestinians people because this is what my grandfather would have wanted.”

“We call on the entire South African people, as we enjoy our freedom that we won with the support of Palestinians, to join every effort aimed at ensuring the freedom of Palestine.”

“The Palestinian people supported us through our darkest days. Now it is for us as South Africans to join hands in support of the Palestinian cause and ensure that our brothers and sisters also realise their freedom.”

Marcel Khalife, Lebanese musician and UNESCO Artist for Peace (2005), said:

​”Without doubt, it is our moral duty as artists to heed the Palestinian​ civil society call for a cultural boycott of Israel and to support the struggle for a just peace and for dignity.”

“I dream of the day when Palestine can shed its history under oppression and reach out to the stars in the sky.”

Rebecca Vilkomerson, director of US-based Jewish Voice for Peace, also joined via video link and said:

“I am here to tell you that in the Jewish American community, as well as the United States at large, there is a fundamental shift in the understanding of Israeli systems of oppression and control over Palestinian lives.”

“Jewish support for BDS shatters the claim that that Israel represents all Jews, or that all Jews support Israel. My organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, has by just about every measure tripled in size in the last year, and polls of the Jewish American community show a growing generational divide. In fact, a J Street poll last November showed that 49% of all Jews under 30 now support settlement boycott!”

“How can it be anti-Semitic to hold a state—any state, including Israel—accountable for its human rights violations, for enforcing inequality and for its systems of oppression?”

Dr. Lisa Taraki, a co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said:

“We did not expect when we launched the boycott campaign here in Ramallah ten years ago that it will expand and extend to different countries around the world in this way,” indicating that the most important success of the campaign is fighting the Israeli thought, especially when it comes to its occupation of Palestine.”

“The success of the BDS movement is a testament to the power of people—workers, teachers, students, academics, writers, artists, and their organizations—who individually and collectively have been rising up to say no to Israel, and to demand that pressure be brought to bear upon the rogue state through censure and isolation.” .

Dr. Haidar Eid, a leading BDS activist in Gaza, spoke via video link from Gaza to say:

“For us in Gaza, the remaining window of hope is through boycotting Israel and isolating it completely, until the residents of the refugee camps in Gaza, who compose the majority of the population here, can return to the towns and villages from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948.”

“If it took more than thirty years for the international community to adhere to the calls of the oppressed people of South Africa, we can be proud that we have reached the moment similar to the one which precedes the Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990 through the academic, cultural, economic and sports boycott campaigns against Israel. This was acknowledged by the right-wing Zionist leadership in Israel through a relentless campaign against boycott activists. ”

Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, which is a member organisation of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said:

“While the academic and cultural boycott of Israel has been quite popular in the occupied Palestinian territory for years, it is after Israel’s massacre in Gaza in 2014 and the popular uprising in occupied Jerusalem that preceded it that the local consumer boycott of Israeli companies grew exponentially.”

“Palestinian BDS campaigns today are everywhere and in the conscience of the people, becoming a key element within popular resistance. BDS allows us to disengage from the occupation. BDS will succeed even more in isolating Israel as colonial and apartheid power with the growth of its support base globally.”

Nasfat Al-Khuffash, a secretariat member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said:

“The Arab dimension of the BDS movement is a strategic one, especially as our struggle is organically linked to the struggle of the Arab peoples fighting for democracy, social-economic justice and the rule of law.”

“We turn to our sisters and brothers in the Arab world to say: we deeply appreciate your support of our struggle, and we hope that it translates into popular, strategic campaigns to end relations with Israel, fighting against normalisation and boycotting companies that are complicit in Israel’s human rights violations, such as G4S, HP and Caterpillar. If these companies feel the heat in the Arab world, they will think twice before supporting Israeli violations of international law.”

Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, said:

“The BDS movement at 10 is proud to be recognized as a ‘strategic threat’ to Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid. Reflecting the Palestinian consensus and with the support of people of conscience around the world, BDS has moved from symbolic to concrete impact.”

“It will continue to isolate Israel’s regime of oppression, academically, culturally and economically, until Palestinians everywhere can achieve freedom, justice and equality.”

A un año de la masacre de Israel en Gaza, y a diez años del lanzamiento del movimiento BDS, trabajar por el boicot es más importante que nunca

Global BDS News - Wed, 07/08/2015 - 21:03

Declaración del Comité Nacional Palestino de BDS

7 de julio de 2015

Hace un año, Israel lanzó un brutal ataque militar contra la población palestina de la ocupada y sitiada Franja de Gaza. Más de 2.200 personas murieron, entre ellas 551 niños y niñas; más de 10.000 resultaron gravemente heridas, y cientos de miles quedaron sin hogar, desplazadas por la fuerza y atrapadas dentro de Gaza. Los ataques deliberados de este tipo contra la población civil palestina son parte integral de una política israelí que busca forzar la sumisión del pueblo palestino e impedir el ejercicio de su derecho a la autodeterminación.

Implementado su doctrina Dahiya de la fuerza desproporcionada, Israel atacó deliberadamente zonas civiles enteras de Gaza, apuntando a viviendas, escuelas, hospitales y mezquitas, en un intento de infligir el mayor sufrimiento humano posible. La Comisión nombrada por el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU y muchas organizaciones de derechos humanos prestigiosas han documentado cómo Israel violó el derecho internacional y llevó a cabo reiterados crímenes de guerra.

Gaza sigue bloqueada, e Israel continúa implementando contra ella una política descrita por el historiador israelí Ilan Pappé como “genocidio gradual”. También continúan los ataques a menudo mortales sobre los palestinos y palestinas. La mayor parte del agua está contaminada y no se considera apta para el consumo humano; los alimentos y suministros básicos siguen siendo escasos;  y como han señalado las organizaciones palestinas, Gaza se está acercando a una situación límite irreversible.

Mientras tanto, Israel sigue trabajando sin descanso para anexar la mayor parte de la ocupada Cisjordania (incluyendo Jerusalén Este) a través de la expansión de sus colonias y del Muro, unas y otro considerados ilegales según el derecho internacional. Israel impide a los palestinos y palestinas el acceso, la residencia y el desarrollo en el este de Jerusalén, y lleva a cabo una campaña de limpieza étnica en el 60% de la ocupada Cisjordania (área C), expulsando a las comunidades rurales de sus tierras, empujándolas hacia los enclaves urbanos fragmentados y reprimiendo violentamente su resistencia popular no violenta.

Los ciudadanos y ciudadanas palestinas de Israel se enfrentan a una limpieza étnica similar, en particular en el Naqab (Negev), mientras el parlamento sigue aprobando y discutiendo más leyes racistas con el objetivo de prevenir cualquier  desafío al régimen de supremacía judía y apartheid de Israel.

Desafiar al régimen de ocupación, colonialismo y apartheid israelí

Diez años después de su lanzamiento el 9 de julio de 2005, el movimiento dirigido por la sociedad civil palestina de Boicot, Desinversión y Sanciones (BDS) es ampliamente apoyado por movimientos sociales, organizaciones populares, sindicatos, iglesias, ONG y partidos políticos en todo el mundo, y ha comenzado a desafiar efectivamente la impunidad de Israel.

Las campañas efectivas y populares de BDS han obligado a algunas de las corporaciones más grandes del mundo -incluyendo Orange, G4S y Veolia– a retirarse gradualmente de proyectos israelíes que violan el derecho internacional. Desde importantes iglesias de Estados Unidos hasta bancos privados europeos, desinvertir de Israel se está convirtiendo en una acción aceptable y entendida como necesaria para alcanzar la libertad, la justicia y la igualdad. En América Latina, grandes contratos del Estado con empresas israelíes se han derrumbado gracias a la presión popular.

En los últimos años también las dimensiones académica y cultural del BDS han tenido un avance significativo, e importantes asociaciones académicas estadounidenses han aprobado el boicot institucional a las universidades israelíes. Lauryn Hill, Thurston Moore y otros artistas prominentes han cancelado recientemente su actuación programada en Tel Aviv, añadiendo sus nombres a una creciente e ilustre lista de artistas que incluyen a Roger Waters, Faithless, Elvis Costello -entre muchos otros- que se niegan a actuar en Israel.

El impacto del BDS ha llegado a la economía israelí. Un informe reciente de la ONU muestra que la inversión extranjera directa en Israel cayó un 46% en 2014, y uno de los autores del informe indica que esto se debió en parte al BDS. Un estudio realizado por el Instituto Rand predice que el BDS puede costarle a Israel unos 47.000 millones de dólares en diez años.

Después de soslayar al BDS como algo sin importancia, los niveles más altos del gobierno israelí ahora consideran al movimiento una “amenaza estratégica” para su régimen de opresión, y están asignando importantes recursos a la lucha contra él. La corriente se está volviendo contra el apartheid y el colonialismo israelíes, y el boicot y el aislamiento crecientes sólo terminarán cuando todos los palestinos y palestinas estén libres de la opresión racista y los refugiados y refugiadas puedan regresar.

Queda mucho por hacer

Los gobiernos -sobre todo en Occidente- mantienen su connivencia con el régimen israelí, protegiéndolo de las sanciones y manteniendo relaciones normales con él, en muchos casos en contra de la voluntad democrática de sus respectivas ciudadanías.

Así como el pueblo palestino continúa resistiendo y luchando por sus derechos inalienables, los pueblos en todo el mundo árabe y más allá siguen luchando para construir un mundo mejor. Los movimientos anti-racistas, las luchas anti-austeridad, las campañas por la justicia económica, social y ecológica en todo el mundo nos unen en la convicción de que es posible y necesario crear un mundo mejor. Si queremos tener éxito en esta tarea, tenemos que encontrar formas de profundizar y fortalecer los vínculos entre nuestras luchas.

Aunque la opresión y el despojo continúan intensificándose bajo el régimen brutal de apartheid y colonialismo de Israel, el BDS es una creciente y fundamental fuente de inspiración para el pueblo palestino. El Comité Nacional Palestino de BDS agradece profundamente los esfuerzos incansables de las y los activistas del BDS y de las organizaciones que apoyan al movimiento en todo el mundo. Ustedes nos inspiran y nos dan esperanza.

Exhortamos a la sociedad civil internacional -incluidos sindicatos, ONG, movimientos populares,  partidos políticos y parlamentarios- a unirse a nosotros para intensificar el BDS mediante:

– la construcción de campañas amplias y masivas de boicot, desinversión y sanciones contra Israel y contra las instituciones y empresas internacionales que apoyan o se benefician de sus crímenes.

– un aumento sustancial de la conciencia pública sobre el régimen israelí de ocupación, colonialismo y apartheid que oprime al pueblo palestino, y sobre el deber moral y legal de resistirlo.

– el aumento de la presión sobre los gobiernos y la ONU para que impongan un embargo militar inmediato a Israel, y suspendan los acuerdos de libre comercio y todas las formas de cooperación con Israel hasta que éste cumpla cabalmente con sus obligaciones según el derecho internacional.

Diez años después del lanzamiento del BDS, aislar al régimen israelí se ha vuelto más importante que nunca; y también más realista que nunca. Venceremos.

One year since Israel’s Gaza massacre and ten years since the launch of the BDS movement

Global BDS News - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 18:47

One year since Israel’s Gaza massacre and ten years since the launch of the BDS movement: building the boycott is more important than ever

A statement from the Palestinian BDS National Committee

One year ago today, Israel launched a brutal military attack on the Palestinian population of the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children, and more than 10,000 people were seriously injured and hundreds of thousands were made homeless, forcibly displaced and trapped inside Gaza. Deliberate attacks on Palestinian civilians of this kind are part and parcel of an Israeli policy that aims to force Palestinians into submission and to thwart the Palestinian people’s exercise of its right to self-determination.

Implementing its Dahiya doctrine of disproportionate force, Israel deliberately attacked entire civilian areas in Gaza, targeting homes, schools, hospitals and mosques in an attempt to inflict as much human suffering as possible. The Commission appointed by UN Human Rights Council and many reputable human rights organisations have documented how Israel contravened international law and repeatedly carried out war crimes.

Gaza remains under siege as Israel implements against it a policy described by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe as “incremental genocide.” Israel’s often deadly attacks on Palestinians continue. Most of the water has been contaminated and deemed unfit for human consumption, food and basic supplies remain scarce, and as Palestinian organisations have noted, Gaza is approaching an irreversible breaking point.

In the meantime, Israel is working relentlessly on annexing most of the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) through the expansion of its settlements and Wall, both considered illegal under international law. Israel deprives Palestinians of access, residency and development in East Jerusalem and conducts a campaign of ethnic cleansing in 60% of the occupied West Bank (Area C), forcing rural Palestinian communities from their land, pushing them into the fragmented enclaves, and violently repressing their non-violent popular resistance.

Palestinian citizens of Israel face similar ethnic cleansing, in particular in the Naqab (Negev), while more racist laws are approved or debated by Israeli lawmakers with the aim of preventing challenges to Israel’s regime of Jewish supremacy and apartheid.

Challenging Israel’s regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid

Ten years on from its launch on 9 July 2005, the Palestinian civil society-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is widely supported by social movements, grassroots organizations, unions, churches, NGOs and political parties across the world and has started to effectively challenge Israel’s impunity.

Effective grassroots BDS campaigning has forced some of the world’s largest corporations, including Orange, G4S and Veolia, to gradually withdraw from Israeli projects that violate international law. From major US churches to private European banks, divestment from Israel is becoming acceptable and understood as necessary to bring about freedom, justice and equality. In Latin America, major state contracts with Israel companies have collapsed after grassroots pressure.

Academic and cultural boycott aspects of BDS have also taken off in the last few years, with major US academic associations endorsing a full institutional boycott of Israel’s universities. Lauryn Hill, Thurston Moore and other prominent performers have recently cancelled scheduled performance in Tel Aviv, adding their names to a growing and illustrious list of artists, including Roger Waters, Faithless, Elvis Costello, among many others, who refuse to perform in Israel.

The impact of BDS has reached the Israeli economy. A recent UN report shows that foreign direct investment into Israel fell by 46% in 2014, with one of the authors of the report stating that this was partially due to BDS. A study by the Rand Institute predicts that BDS may cost Israel about $47 billion over 10 years.

Whereas they once dismissed BDS as unimportant, the highest levels of the Israeli government now consider the movement a “strategic threat” to their regime of oppression and are allocating large resources to fighting it. The tide is turning against Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism and the increasing boycotts and isolation will end only when all Palestinians can enjoy freedom from racist oppression and the refugees can return.

Much still to do

Governments, particularly in the West, continue their collusion with Israel’s regime, protecting it from sanctions and continuing business as usual with it, in most cases against the democratic will of their respective citizens.

Just as the Palestinian people continues to resist and struggle for its inalienable rights, people across the Arab world and beyond continue to struggle to build a better world. Anti-racist movements, anti-austerity struggles, campaigns for economic, social and ecological justice across the world are all united in our belief that it is possible and necessary to create a better world. If we want to succeed in this task, we must find ways to deepen and strengthen the links between our struggles.

Palestinian oppression and dispossession continues to intensify under Israel’s brutal regime of apartheid and settler colonialism, but BDS is a key and growing source of inspiration for the Palestinian people. The Palestinian BDS National Committee deeply appreciates the tireless efforts of BDS activists and BDS supporting organisations around the world. You inspire us and give us hope.

We urge international civil society, including trade unions, NGOs, grassroots movements, political parties and parliamentarians to join us in intensifying BDS by:

— Building broad and mass boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel and the international institutions and companies that support or otherwise profit from its crimes.

— Raising broad public awareness about the Israeli regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid that oppresses the Palestinian people, and the moral and legal duty to resist it.

— Increasing pressure on governments and the UN to impose an immediate military embargo on Israel and to suspend all forms of cooperation and free trade agreements with Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law.

Ten years after the launch of BDS, isolating Israel’s regime has become more crucial than ever and more realistic than ever. We shall overcome.

Marianna becomes first singer in Spain to cancel concerts

Global BDS News - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 20:54

— Marinah had planned to participate in the Méditerranée Festival in Ashdod the upcoming 11th June and also at the World Music Festival of Tel Aviv

— The Ashdod Festival has broad institutional support and is financed by companies which are directly linked to the violation of Palestinian rights

The former vocal leader of the Catalan group Ojos de Brujo, Marina Abad, had organized to perform at the Festival Méditerranée of Ashdod (south of Israel, next to the Gaza Strip) the upcoming 11th of June, next to other Spanish artists such as Tomatito, Diego Guerrero, Rycardo Moreno and Javier Limón. Marinah’s concert was part of the Idan Raichel Project, where the Portuguese António Zambujo will also perform. The Valencian artist had also planned to sing at the World Music of Tel Aviv.

As soon as we grew aware of these concerts, several BDS Catalunya activists asked Marinah via social networks not to sing in Israel, since it would represent a violation of the cultural boycott the Palestinian civil society is asking for. Knowing how supportive Marinah is of international causes and social movements, we thought it was a paradox that she had decided to participate in a festival organized by the same Israeli regime which has been oppressing the Palestinian people for the last 67 years. After several phone conversations, Marinah has decided to cancel her two concerts in Israel.

This important victory for the BDS has been achieved some days after the American singer Lauryn Hill (former singer of The Fugees) decided to cancel her concert in Tel Aviv, due to a strong international campaign asking her to not violate the call for cultural boycott launched by the Palestinian civil society in 2004. The artist didn’t disappoint us and decided not to sing for Apartheid.

The Israeli “whitewash” phenomenon

The Festival Méditerranée of Ashdod is a clear example of how Israel uses culture to whitewash its image and show itself to the world as a modern and open-minded country, hiding its occupation, colonization and apartheid policies. By giving an image of multiculturalism and tolerance, this festival is covering up the Zionist colonizing machine, and is trying to show Israel as a «normal» country.

If we look at the sponsors and organizers of the festival, it’s obvious how they are closely linked to the violation of Palestinian rights. Among the sponsors there is Tfahot, a bank which finances illegal colonies in occupied West Bank; Ashdod port, which exports agricultural products produced in stolen land; Adama, a food company linked to the company Agan-Machteshim, which produces glass fibre in an illegal Jewish colony; and wide institutional support of the Jewish state (Ashdod Council, the Ministry of Culture of Israel and the National Lottery).

As is established by the PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) guidelines “a cultural event is boycottable if it is partially or fully sponsored by an official Israeli body or a complicit institution”, and as we have already mentioned this Festival is a clear example of the above.

The on-going Nakba

We want to emphasize that Marinah has announced the news today 15th May, the day we commemorate the Palestinian Nakba (the «disaster» in Arabic), which started 67 years ago. On the 15th of May of 1948 the State of Israel was created, forcing 70% of Palestinians to leave their houses and dispossessing hundred thousands of them from their homes. The Nakba is not an isolated event in time, but an on-going event which keeps being repeated systematically. For 67 years now, Israel has been violating, without been punished or sanctioned, the Palestinians rights and their freedom, increasing its attacks in the recent years.

Today we remember the Nakba. BDS Catalunya and RESCOP celebrate Marinah’s decision and we fully support her. We want to emphasize the importance of her decision, since she is the first Spanish artist to cancel a scheduled concert in Israel. Marinah has set an example of compromise, values and solidarity which we hope encourages the rest of Spanish and International artists to intensify cultural boycott against Israel.

From BDS Catalunya and RESCOP we won’t stop calling for BDS until Israel: 1/ ends its occupation and colonization of all the Arab territories occupied in June 1967 and dismantles the Apartheid Wall; 2/ recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3/ respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Thank-you Marina! Free Palestine!

BDS Catalunya
Red Solidaria contra la Ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP)

More than 10 000 South African School Students March Against Woolworths over Israel Trade

Global BDS News - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 20:06

More than 10 000 South African school learners protested earlier today against Woolworths Stores over its Israeli trade. The #BoycottWoolworths protest was led by the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) in the Free State. COSAS represents school children in all 9 SA provinces and is arguably the largest school learner organization in the country. Click here for photos from today’s COSAS protest against Woolworths.

The 15th of May was chosen for the protest to also mark the 67th year of the Palestinian Nakba “Catastrophe” (the 1948 establishment of the modern State of Israel that was the start of the displacement and oppression of the indigenous Palestinian people).

According to COSAS Free State the protest march by COSAS against Woolworths is “in solidarity with the people of Palestine who continue to experience the harshest form of apartheid by the Israeli regime”. Sipho Tsunke of COSAS Free State said: “We are therefore mobilizing all young people and parents to boycott Woolworths which continues to have relations with Apartheid Israel. We will not be misled by Woolworths and their silly PR campaigns for example their MySchool programme or that of bringing USA musician Pharrell Williams to South Africa. We are telling Pharrell Williams, as school learners of South Africa, to cancel his shows in South Africa until Woolworths ends its relations with Israel.”

Today’s protest march started at Thabong Community Center at 09h00 and ended at Goldfields Mall (where Woolworths store is located) in Welkom in the Free State. The protest, according to police estimates, drew between 10 000 and 13 000 young learners from various areas in and around the Free State province of South Africa. Further COSAS protests against Woolworths are due to take place in coming weeks in other provinces.

In August 2014 a call for the complete boycott of Woolworths until it ends its Israeli trade links was made by BDS South Africa, COSATU, ANC Youth League, MJC, SACP, YCL, SASCO, PSA, COSAS and various others including the National Coalition 4 Palestine  (a coalition of more than 30 organizations, trade unions and other groups). An independent #BoycottWoolworths impact report by a Wits University researcher has found that Woolworths is losing over R30 million (close to R8 million per month) since the start of the BDS #BoycottWoolworths campaign. According to the report the actual impact “could be in the hundreds of millions”.

On Nakba day, Palestinian civil society in besieged Gaza decries collective failure to ensure accountability for Israeli massacre

Global BDS News - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 15:33

As Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, the catastrophe in 1948 when more than 700,000 indigenous Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes by Zionist militias and later the State of Israel, life in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip is reaching a fatal tipping point, as the UN has warned.

Close to 2 million Palestinians are incarcerated by Israel in a small space condemned to a life of misery, where not even water, the source of life, is fit for human consumption. The provision of basic services such as health and education faltering and the alarm must be sounded. This is an Israeli-made “tsunami” that can be stopped if enough people of conscience around the world would hold Israel to account and pressure their institutions and governments to do so. Israel must pay a heavy price for its criminal behaviour.

If ever there was a right time to isolate a rogue regime to prevent it from committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, it is now. We, the undersigned Palestinian civil society organisations in Gaza, call for urgent and effective measures of accountability, including boycotts, divestment and meaningful sanctions, against Israel and the corporations that are complicit in its serious violations of international law to save hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza from a fate of unspeakable suffering and slow death.

Israel’s massacre in Gaza in the summer of 2014 left more than 2,300 of our people dead and damaged or destroyed our schools, hospitals, UN shelters and thousands of our homes. Eight months on, Gaza remains in ruins, yet at least 100,000 people remain homeless. Of the 12,600 houses that were totally destroyed, not one has yet been rebuilt. To Palestinians everywhere, and in Gaza in particular, the 1948 Nakba is ongoing.

Despite the so called cease-fire, Israel’s often deadly attacks on Palestinians in Gaza are continuous, especially on fishers in the access restricted areas (ARA) along the border with Israel and off the Gaza coast. ARA were among the most hit during the massacre and still continue to suffer from Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

At the root of this grave human suffering is Israel’s ongoing occupation and illegal eight-year siege, which severely restricts movement of people, goods and reconstruction materials. Health and education services have been severely impaired as well. The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been open for just a handful of times so far this year. On average, just 198 people have been able to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing each week during 2014, down from 955 during 2014. As of February 2015,  just 1,661 trucks (containing around 105,307 tonnes) of the 800,000 trucks of material needed to reconstruct destroyed homes and other buildings have been allowed to enter Gaza. The failure of international donors to release pledged funds has exacerbated severe energy shortages. Electricity is still only available for a few hours per day.

The UN Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), the international community’s main response, is fundamentally flawed in a way that deepens the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. The GRM makes the international community, and the UN in particular, the enforcers of the Israeli siege and makes aid to Palestinians conditional on Israeli approval.

As much as 71% of the aid pledged by international donors is expected to benefit the Israeli economy, effectively rewarding Israel for its massacre of Palestinians. Many of the companies supplying the construction efforts are illegally involved in the crime of pillage of Palestinian natural resources and/or participate in the construction of illegal settlements.

Many western governments are seeking to prevent Palestinians from taking cases against Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Last July, the US voted against and several EU member including France, Germany and the UK abstained from voting on the establishment of a UN Gaza Commission of Inquiry.

The US and Germany look set to continue their vast military support for Israel, while the European Union has maintained its Association Agreement with Israel, affording Israel access to EU markets and programs, and the Canadian government has even signed a raft of new agreements with Israel. Even those countries in the global south that speak in clearer terms of their support for the Palestinian people’s right to self determination have failed to translate their symbolic gestures into ending their military links and preferential trade agreements with Israel.

Given the human catastrophe that Gaza is facing and Israel’s threats of more atrocities, we call on governments and international bodies to take immediate action to:

– Ensure Israel is held to account for its war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza, including by supporting Palestinians in seeking justice at the ICC.

– End direct support for Israeli war crimes, including by imposing a comprehensive military embargo and suspending free trade agreements and other bilateral agreements until such time as Israel complies with international law, including lifting the siege on Gaza.

– Provide immediate international protection to civilians in Gaza, including by providing financial and material support to help Palestinians to cope with the immense hardship they continue to experience.

We warmly thank the countless people of conscience and principled organisations across the world who stand in solidarity with our struggle for freedom, justice and equality, and call on international civil society, including trade unions, NGOs, grassroots networks, political parties and parliamentarians to:

– Join and build the Palestinian-led, global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a key tool to ensure Israel is held to account for its violations of international law in Gaza and against Palestinians everywhere, including by pressuring universities, banks and pension funds to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation and war crimes.

– Pressure governments to impose military embargoes and trade sanctions.

– Campaign against corporate criminals such as military company Elbit Systems, security firm G4S and key Israeli military supplier HP that enable Israeli violations of international law.

Signed

Palestinian BDS National Committee
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
University Teachers’ Society in Palestine
Palestinian Medical Relief Society
Palestinian Association for Development and Reconstruction (PADR)
Medical Democratic Assembly
Palestinian Student Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
Medical Initiative Assembly
Arab Center for Agricultural Development (ACAD)
Union of Health Work Committees
One Democratic State group
Herak Youth Center
Badr Campaign for Boycott of Israeli Goods

 

BDS roundup: Lauryn Hill cancels Israel concert and Israeli company loses Olympics security contract

Global BDS News - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 19:13

In the first of a new series of regular round-ups from the Palestinian BDS National Committee, we bring you a summary of some of the incredible recent developments from across the global BDS movement. Highlights include:

[five anchor links]

US hip hop star Lauryn Hill cancels Israel concert

US hip hop star Ms. Lauryn Hill has cancelled her concert in Israel following appeals from Palestinian and Palestine solidarity organisations and a big social media campaign.

Haidar Eid, a Gaza-based steering committee member with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said:

“We’re delighted that Lauryn Hill has decided not to perform in Israel. A growing number of mainstream artists are catching up with public opinion and now understand that playing in Israel helps it to whitewash its colonial oppression of Palestinians. Israeli promoters are finding it increasingly difficult to book big names to perform in Israel.”

Go to thankyoulaurynhill.org to send Lauryn Hill a thank you message.

Watch a video interview about Lauryn Hill’s decision with BDS Omar Barghouti here.

Veolia sells Israeli businesses targeted by BDS movement

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a huge victory for the BDS movement, French corporate giant Veolia has sold off nearly all of its business activity in Israel. The sale follows a worldwide six-year campaign against the company’s role in illegal Israeli settlements that cost the firm billions of dollars of lost contracts.

Under BDS pressure, Veolia has failed to win massive contracts with local authorities across Europe​,​ the US​ and Kuwait​​, and many investors sold their shares in the company.

The campaign against Veolia is set to continue however, as the company maintains a role in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project.

Israeli company loses 2016 Rio Olympics’ security contract

Palestine solidarity movements and human rights groups in Brazil are celebrating the  announcement by the Brazilian government that Israeli security company ISDS is not a contractor for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

More than 30 Brazilian social movements and progressive organisations had called on the Brazilian government to exclude International Security and Defence Systems from Olympics contracts after the Israeli company announced in October 2014 that it had been awarded a $2.2bn deal to coordinate security at the games.

Barclays no longer listed as Elbit shareholder

Campaigners occupy a Barclays bank in London as part of a national day of action

UK high street bank Barclays is no longer listed as a shareholder in Elbit Systems, the major Israeli military company that manufactures drones used in Israel’s attacks on Palestinians and helps Israel build its illegal Apartheid wall.

The news follows a high profile campaign launched after Barclays emerged as the named owner of $2.9 million worth of shares in Elbit.

More than 1.7 million people signed a petition organised by Avaaz calling on Barclays to divest from Elbit Systems. On November 28 last year, campaigners held occupations and protests at more than 15 Barclays branches across the UK.

20 South African businesses boycott G4S

Activists in South Africa march against G4S on Palestinian prisoners day in 2014

More than 20 businesses across South Africa have cancelled contracts with G4S, the British security company that helps Israel run checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza and the prisons that hold Palestinian political prisoners. The cancelled contracts covered more than 140 sites across South Africa and were worth more than $500,000.

G4S has lost contracts worth millions of dollars with unions, charities, NGOs and banks across the world since the campaign against the company’s support for Israeli apartheid was launched in 2012.

Meanwhile Jordan BDS Movement, known in Arabic as Alurdun Tuqate’ Jordan have launched the campaign against G4S in their country by holding a demonstration at the company’s Amman headquarters on April 17, Palestinian political prisoners’ day. More than 50 people attended the protest, which was backed by unions, parties and NGOs and widely covered in the media.

Read Addameer’s updated fact sheet on the role of G4S in Israel’s prison system here.

Israeli Supreme Court upholds anti-BDS law

Israel’s highest court has upheld a law prohibiting Israeli citizens, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, from calling for a boycott of Israel.

The so-called Law for the Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott allows entities to sue and win compensation from individuals or organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycott. It also allows the finance ministry to financially penalize any organization that receives state funding that participates in such calls.

The court cancelled a minor provision of the law, which allowed companies to claim large amounts of compensation without the need to prove damages, but left the rest of the law intact.

Read reaction from Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, here.

BDS campaign launched in Egypt

A coalition of eleven political parties, four revolutionary movements, six unions, six student movements, and a large number of individuals, have come together to start up the BDS Egypt movement.

Read more here.

Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Canada joins BDS

The Central Council of the Confederation of National Trade Unions, Quebec, Canada resolved to join the BDS movement and support the call to impose military embargo on Israel. The CSN represents 325,000 workers in all sectors of activity in nearly 2,000 unions across Quebec. Read more here (French).

Also, the Canadian Union for Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3902, which represents 7,000 teaching staff at the University of Toronto recently voted to endorse BDS.

Arab Labor Organization adopts BDS resolution

The Arab Labor conference – Kuwait (18-25 April) adopted  a BDS resolution which resolves that the A.L.O to support the BDS movement against Israel till it complies with international law. The Arab Labor Organization is one of the Arab League organizations which consists of representative of governments, private sectors, and trade unions in the Arab countries. Read the motion in full here (Arabic).

Irish PSC launch arms embargo campaign

A campaign calling for an end to the Irish arms trade with Israel was officially launched by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC). The campaign, which is supported by many public figures and civil society groups, is calling on the Irish government to place an immediate arms embargo upon the state of Israel.

Ireland has bought €14.7m worth of arms and military components from Israel over the last decade, while Irish-based companies have exported €6.42m worth of military and ‘dual use’ hardware to Israel since 2011. Take action in support of the campaign here.

French solidarity groups pressure major supermarket over settlement trade

Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) are campaigning to pressure the Carrefour supermarket to stop selling produce from illegal Israeli settlements, a step taken by many other supermarkets across Europe.

AFPS, FIDH and other French solidarity groups recently organised a day of action that saw campaigners hold protests and information stalls outside 40 Carrefour outlets.

 

 

 

Regarding the so-called “Friends of Palestine Association”

Global BDS News - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 12:21

It has recently come to our attention that an organisation calling itself the “Friends of Palestine Association” has been claiming to have donated money to and been in communication with the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC). This is totally false. The BNC has never heard of this organisation nor has it ever accepted any donations from it.

The Friends of Palestine Association has been approaching a number of organisations that support BDS, lying to them about its alleged relations with the BNC.

Given that the Friends of Palestine Association has fabricated having a relationship with the BNC, and also given that organisations that have been in touch with Friends of Palestine Association have raised serious concerns about the organisation’s credibility, the BNC encourages Palestinian and Palestine solidarity organisations to avoid contact with the Friends of Palestine Association.

Israeli company loses 2016 Rio Olympics’ security contract it had claimed to have been awarded

Global BDS News - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 22:27

The Palestinian national stadium in Gaza, which was destroyed during Israel’s 2012 attack

Palestine solidarity movements and human rights groups in Brazil have welcomed the announcement by the Brazilian government that Israeli security company ISDS is not a contractor for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

More than 30 Brazilian social movements and progressive organisations had called on the Brazilian government to exclude International Security and Defence Systems from Olympics contracts after the Israeli company announced in October 2014 that it had been awarded a $2.2bn deal to coordinate security at the games.

On April 8, the Ministry of Justice’s Special Secretariat for Mega-events (Sesge/MJ) replied to their letter by explaining that ISDS has not been awarded any contracts.

The reply from Sesge/MJ also stated that “any contract made by Rio 2016 won’t result in compromises by the Brazilian government”, a phrase campaigners are interpreting as a clear sign that government officials were sympathetic to their demands.

ISDS had originally announced it had been awarded a contract by the Organising Committee for the 2016 Games. When overall responsibility for security at the games shifted to the Brazilian government, Brazilian social movements began calling on the Brazilian government to ensure that the apparent deal would not remain in place.

The letter to key Sesge/MJ official Andrei Rodrigues signed by Brazilian social movements, political parties, workers unions, and different associations set out how ISDS is accused of having ties to coups, death squares and dictatorships in Central America, as well as close links with the Israeli military.

Campaigners are now preparing to pressure the Olympics Committee to cancel a separate “official supplier” deal with ISDS.

Jaman Juma, coordinador of the Stop the Wall movement, said:

“For us, boycotting this company is paradigmatic: Israel develops its methodologies and technologies through the killing and repression of the Palestinian people, and then it sells them worldwide. The end of military and security relations with Israel is an act of defense. Not only for the Palestinian people, it is an act of defense for humanity.”

Julio Turra, executive director of the biggest Brazilian workers’ union, CUT, one of the signatories of the letter to Coesrio2016, said:

“We are glad with the information the government distances itself from ISDS. It would be illegal and shameful to hire a company that develops its technologies in complicity with Israeli crimes and that accumulates complaints about its participation in Central American dictatorships.”

Mahmoud Nawajaa, General Coordinador of the BDS Palestinian National Committee (BNC), said:

“We welcome the fact that the Brazilian government categorically states it has no commercial relation with ISDS. We expect that no similar company will be hired. It is important that Brazil walks towards a fully military embargo against Israel”.

“Brazilians can be sure they will have the support from the Palestinian and international civil society on this campaign against ISDS in the Olympic Games”.

As for future actions, Soraya Misleh, from the Front in Defense of the Palestinian People explained:

“There will be a wide campaign against the contract celebrated with the 2016 Organizing Committee which makes ISDS an ‘official supplier’ for the Games. We won’t allowed the Olympic Games in our country to have such company’s logo in its publicity. It is an insult against all those who believe in human rights and justice”.

Maristela Pinheiro, from the Rio de Janeiro Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People added:

“There will be for sure a strong campaign against the supplier deal between ISDS and the 2016 Organizing Committee and we’ll keep monitoring Coesrio. The Olympics can’t beneficiate companies that profit through human rights violations. The Games can’t be intensifying repressive practices in our country, or endorse illegal and immoral actions”, states Mahmoud Nawajah from BNC says that

Felipe Butelli, from the Christian Group Kairos Brazil added:

“The call for military embargo has the support of important international names, the Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu and Perez Esquivel among them. Brazil can’t follow on the opposite direction”

Barclays bank no longer listed as Elbit Systems shareholder

Global BDS News - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 13:58

Groups across the UK occupied and held protests at Barclays banks as part of the campaign

UK high street bank Barclays is no longer listed as a shareholder in Elbit Systems, the major Israeli military company that manufactures drones used in Israel’s attacks on Palestinians and helps Israel build its illegal Apartheid wall.

The news follows a high profile campaign launched after Barclays emerged as the named owner of $2.9 million worth of shares in Elbit.

More than 1.7 million people signed a petition organised by Avaaz calling on Barclays to divest from Elbit Systems and campaigners have occupied and protested at bank branches across the UK.

On November 28 last year, campaigners held occupations and protests at more than 15 Barclays branches across the UK.

It recently came to light that Barclays is no longer a listed shareholder of Elbit. However, Barclays is yet to make a public commitment that it won’t own shares in Elbit in the future and still holds shares in other arms companies that supply Israel.

Mahmoud Nawajaa, coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the Palestinian civil society coalition that leads and supports the BDS movement, said:

“The fact that Barclays is no longer listed as a shareholder in Elbit Systems is a welcome development. Elbit plays a key role in Israel’s brutal massacres of Palestinians and in the proliferation of drone technology across the world, and is helping Israel to construct and maintain its illegal apartheid Wall.”

Stickers about Barclays’ investment in the arms trade with Israel have been spotted across cities in the UK

“The creative campaign against Barclays, including the huge Avaaz petition and the occupations of its branches, has really tuned the heat up on the bank.”

“We hope that Barclays will now commit to not allowing clients to buy or sell Elbit shares on its platform and to making it clear to all its clients that Elbit is deeply complicit with Israeli violations of international law.”

“We call on Barclays to sell its shares in all other arms companies that supply the Israeli military, including Raytheon and BAE Systems.”

The Barclays shareholders meeting takes place on April 23.

Palestinian student unions send greetings to NUS conference and urge support for BDS

Global BDS News - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 22:43

19 April 2015 – We the undersigned Palestinian student unions and youth groups wish you a successful conference. We salute your struggle for a more democratic form of education – one that is based on the needs and aspirations of its student body and faculty, and not on the needs of corporate power. As students whose education and lives are shaped and impacted by living under an oppressive colonial and apartheid regime, we share your appreciation of the value of education.

Since its inception in 1948, the state of Israel has systematically targeted Palestinian students, intellectuals and academic institutions. Israel’s recent military assault on Gaza killed more than 2,168 Palestinians, including many students and young people, and injured over 10,895 people, and also destroyed many university buildings, schools, and other educational buildings. Israel’s siege of Gaza makes it virtually impossible for students to continue their studies abroad or in the West Bank.

In the West Bank, Israel’s brutal military occupation presents grave problems for students, who face severe restrictions on their freedom of movement and arbitrary imprisonment. Palestinian citizens of Israel face systematic discrimination in universities from their fellow students and from the university administration itself.

Israel is only able to maintain its illegal regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid because of international support. Governments fail to hold Israel to account, and corporations and institutions across the world help Israel oppress Palestinians. International solidarity is urgently needed.

Supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is one of the most important steps that student unions internationally can take to stand in solidarity with our struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Students in the UK, Palestine and around the world have long been at the forefront of the struggle for justice and liberation. In the 1970s and 1980s, the NUS took a principled position in support of boycotts and divestment against the apartheid regime in South Africa and helped to build the anti-apartheid movement.

It has been heartwarming to see the huge recent growth of support for BDS within the UK student movement. More than 25 student unions have voted to support BDS in recent years. The NUS Executive Committee, Black Students Campaign, Women’s Conference and Postgraduate Conference have all voted to support BDS tactics in recent months.

This support for BDS is increasingly being matched with successful campaigns that have pressured universities to drop contracts with companies such as G4S and Veolia that participate in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. We look forward to working with you to build even more successful and visible boycott campaigns in the months to come.

We ask delegates at the NUS conference to continue to stand in support of our struggle. Your solidarity and support for BDS strengthens our ongoing resistance to Israel’s repressive, apartheid and colonial rule and our struggle for liberation.

The Secretariat of Students’ Unions and Blocs – Gaza Strip
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
Palestinian Youth Struggle Union
Herak Youth Centre
Fateh Youth and Student Movement
Almubadara Youth
Alquds University Student Union
Hebron University Student Union
Al-Najah University Student Union
Birzeit University Student Union
Bethlehem University Student Union
Arab American University Student Union
Palestinian Students Liberation Front
Palestinian democratic Youth Union
Student’s Struggle Block
Palestine Polytechnic University Student Union
Students Unions in Al-Quds Open University in the following branches: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, Salfeet, Toubas, Qalqilia, Jenin, Toulkarem, Bedia, Doura, Yata, Biet Sahour, Alezarieh.

20 businesses across South Africa join G4S boycott

Global BDS News - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 11:02

Over 20 South African businesses have terminated their contracts with G4S Security over its involvement in Israeli prisons and human rights abuses. The SA businesses terminated their contracts, totalling more than R7 million ($500,000) per year, after approached by representatives of the human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation BDS South Africa as well as the KZN Palestine Solidarity Forum. BDS South Africa makes this announcement on the eve of the international Palestine prisoners day due to be commemorated on 17 April.

In 2007 G4S was contracted to provide and maintain Israeli prisons, torture centres and detention facilities. In 2010 Palestinian prisoners and prisoner support organziations called for a boycott of G4S as part of the larger international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. Last year the Methodist Church together with Amnesty International and the European Union were among some of the organisations that terminated their contracts with G4S. In June 2014, Bill Gates withdrew his R1.9 billion stake from G4S after being called on by BDS South Africa and the larger BDS movement. Locally in South Africa the Trauma Centre in Cape Town ended its relations with G4S in 2013. This was followed by South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, in November 2014 resolving that G4S (among other companies that do business in the Israeli occupied territories) be excluded from doing business with the South African Government.

The over R7 million worth of cancelled G4S Security contracts include contracts for more than 140 sites across the country ranging from restaurants, factories, supermarkets and other stores.

Piet Modiba, representing a nationwide manufacturing company said on the cancelling of their G4S contracts: “We come from a very dark and painful past, part of the pain was inflicted by companies that insisted on aiding the apartheid regime. G4S today is doing the same by maintaining relations with the Israeli Government.”

Moosa Sabir, general manager of a chain of hardware stores said: “We were contacted by customers and the general public who saw G4S vehicles at our store. They complained that G4S was complicit in Israel’s torture and illegal detention of Palestinian children. When we investigated the matter we found that G4S was guilty and we could not continue the business relationship in good faith. All and any businesses complicit with Israeli Apartheid should be shunned by peace and justice loving people. We hope more businesses follow our lead.”

Nkosikona Madikizela, a manager of one of the stores that ended their G4S relations said: ” We are fed up with the attitude of Israel and multi national companies like G4S that think they can act with utter impunity. The BDS Movement is proving to hold these international companies accountable for their trade and involvement with Israel. Companies such as G4S, Woolworths and others choosing to trade with Israel, in violation of the nonviolent BDS boycott, must realise that there is a price to pay. ”

Aziz Ismail, owner of a Limpopo hardware store in Polokwane said: “Palestine needs us now more than ever, we must intensify the non-violent boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. If we are being called by the BDS movement to boycott Woolworths, we should. If we are being called to end relations with G4S we should. The strategic and focused boycott of Apartheid South Africa contributed to our liberation, we can do the same now in the BDS boycott of Israel.”

Welcoming the announcement by BDS South Africa of the G4S boycott victories were the Palestinian Embassy in South Africa as well as the anti-Apartheid icon, Ahmed Kathrada:

Tamer AlMassri of the Palestinian Embassy said: “ In 2012, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights added G4S as one of the international companies that should be boycotted for their illegal involvement in Israel, Israeli settlements and prisons. We welcome the announcements of these South African companies ending their relations with G4S and supporting the BDS campaign. It is also encouraging that South Africa’s ruling party the ANC has called for G4S to be excluded from Government and State contracts.”

Ahmed Kathrada and his Foundation, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, said: “That the annoucenment of cancelled G4S contracts comes on the eve of the international Palestinian political prisoner day should not be understated. We hope to see the release of all political prisoners such as Marwan Barghouti from Israeli prisons secured by G4S. Over 750 000 Palestinians (roughly 40% of Palestinian men) have been imprisoned by Israel at one point in time. About 100 000 Palestinians have been held by Israel in “administrative detention” (the equivalent of Apartheid South Africa’s “Detention without trial”). Similar to the experience of Black families under Apartheid, almost every Palestinian family has been affected by the Israeli imprisonment of a relative.”

Currently, there are over 6000 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel; 454 of them are being held under Israel’s “administrative detention” (Apartheid South Africa’s “Detention Without Trial”) and 163 of them are children. In the last 11 years alone, more than 7500 Palestinian children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention facilities (including being held in solitary confinement) with Muhammad Daoud Dirbas, at the age of six, being the youngest Palestinian child to have been detained by Israeli soldiers. Last year Ahmed Kathrada together with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Novelist Alice Walker; Linguist, philosopher and author Noam Chomsky; Author and Activist Angela Davis; Poet, painter and former South African political prisoner Breyten Breytenbach; Actor Miriam Margolyes; Author John Berger; and various others wrote an open letter to the Management of G4S calling on the company to end its Israeli contracts including those contracts with Israeli prisons holding Palestinian political prisoners.

Stop G4S factsheet

Global BDS News - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 21:18

Veolia sells Israel businesses targeted by Palestinian-led boycott campaign

Global BDS News - Wed, 04/08/2015 - 13:37

  • BDS campaign has cost Veolia billions of dollars in eavingost contracts
  • But Veolia remains involved in Jerusalem Light Rail, boycott campaign set to continue

Palestinian civil society activists have heralded the decision by French corporate giant Veolia to sell off nearly all of its business activity in Israel as a huge victory for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The sale follows a worldwide campaign against the company’s role in illegal Israeli settlements that cost the firm billions of dollars of lost contracts.

The boycott Veolia campaign was launched in Bilbao, the Basque Country, in November 2008, to pressure the company to end its involvement in illegal Israeli projects that serve settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).

​Under BDS pressure, Veolia has failed to win massive contracts with local authorities across Europe​,​ the US​ and Kuwait​​. City councils across Europe have passed resolutions ​excluding the firm from ​tenders ​due to its involvement in Israeli human rights violations.

Veolia executives have admitted that the campaign has cost the company “important contracts”, and financial analysts have repeatedly spoken about the financial cost of the campaign to Veolia.

Veolia has now reported that the sale of its water, waste and energy contracts to Oaktree Capital, a Los Angles based investment firm, has been completed, leaving its stake in the ​illegal ​Jerusalem Light Rail as its only business interest in Israel.

Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), a broad Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the global BDS movement, said:

“Grassroots BDS activism across the world made it very difficult for Veolia to win public contracts in some parts of Europe, the US and the Middle East, leaving the company no choice but to significantly scale back its involvement in illegal Israeli projects.”

“The BDS movement is showing that there is a price to pay for participating in Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land. One of Europe’s biggest companies has been forced to sell its businesses in Israel that violate international law.”

Around 10 authorities in Ireland and the UK introduced official policy barring Veolia from public contracts. Councils in at least 25 cities including London, Stockholm and Boston opted not to award or renew contracts with Veolia following public campaigns that were backed by local community leaders, churches, trade unions and mainstream political parties.

Many investors including the Dutch ASN Bank and the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation have divested from Veolia over its role in Israeli settlements, while other major banks and the Swedish AP pension fund have issued public statements condemning Veolia’s role in the settlements. Several “socially responsible investment” information providers have told campaigners they have listed the firm as having serious human rights concerns.

Veolia continues to remain involved in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail that links Israeli colonies to west Jerusalem through its holdings in Veolia Transdev, but has announced its intention to sell its holding in the railway.

In 2014, Veolia stated in letters to BDS organizers that it had also “terminated its involvement in the Tovlan landfill … over three years ago.” Tovlan processes waste from Israel and its illegal settlements in the OPT. This claim was proven to be false, however, by official records obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection in September 2013, which show beyond doubt that the operator of the illegal Tovlan landfill at the time was still Veolia’s subsidiary, T.M.M. Integrated Recycling Services.

Ownership of the Tovlan site and wastewater treatment contracts for illegal Israeli settlements is now expected to transfer to Oaktree.

“By buying up these businesses, Oaktree has become an active accomplice in Israel’s ongoing violations of international law,” Nawajaa added.

Mainly due to boycott pressure on it in the US and Europe, and particularly the campaign’s focus on its “apartheid bus operations,” which served Israel’s illegal settlements, Veolia had sold its entire bus operations in Israel in 2013.

Nawajaa explained that the campaign against Veolia would continue because the firm remains a shareholder in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project.

“The sole purpose of the Jerusalem Light Rail is to increase the appeal and facilitate the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements through the theft of Palestinian land. We will continue to boycott Veolia until it ends its participation in the Light Rail project and pays reparations to those Palestinian communities impacted by its support for Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land. International corporations cannot simply profit from Israel’s war crimes and then leave when the going gets tough, without being held accountable,” Nawajaa added.

“We warmly thank the impressive number of principled activists and civil society organizations around the world whose dedicated and strategic efforts have made the campaign against Veolia such a success,” Nawajaa concluded.

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