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Take action: tell Colombian star to cancel Israel concert

Mon, 06/15/2015 - 21:38

Click here to sign the petition!

Marianna becomes first singer in Spain to cancel concerts

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

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

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

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”

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

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

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

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

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

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 21:18

Veolia sells Israel businesses targeted by Palestinian-led boycott campaign

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.

French firms pulls out of Jerusalem cable car after government warning

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 20:16

Palestinian activists today welcomed the news that two French firms, Safege and Puma,  have canceled their participation in a Jerusalem cable car project that aims to connect illegal settlements to Israel after being warned about the legal risks involved by the French finance and foreign ministries​.

Solidarity networks across Europe had urged the two firms to pull out of the deal.

Mahmoud Nawajaa, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that works to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, said:

“Safege and Puma has taken the only sensible decision and have avoided participating in Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land. By doing so they have also avoided becoming targets for the international BDS movement.”

“The BDS campaign against two other French companies, Veolia and Alstom, which has led them to lose billions of dollars worth of contracts worldwide established a precedent for other multinational companies that complicity with Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land will come at a heavy cost.”

“The proactive role that the French government has played in this decision is especially welcome, coming off the back of coordinated action last year by EU governments to warn businesses about the risks of doing business that supports Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.”

“To be consistent with its own policies and legal obligations, the French government should now publicly oppose the participation of Veolia and Alstom in the Jerusalem Light Rail, which has been declared illegal by the UN Human Rights Council.”

“We urge any company considering getting involved in this cable car project not to put the interests of profits above human rights and adherence to international law and reiterate our call.”

“We urge all national and local governments to not contract and end existing contracts with Veolia and Alstom, and call on shareholders to divest from these companies, until they end their participation in these clear breaches of international law.”

 

Palestinian students call on Sussex University to vote for BDS

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 01:08

The Secretariat of Student Unions and Blocs in the Gaza Strip, a coordination of 12 student unions in Gaza, and the Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel‎, a Gaza based student group, are writing to strongly urge students at the University of Sussex to vote in favor of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) during the upcoming student union referendum.

Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid policies has enormous impacts on our right to education and on Palestinian youth in general. Israel’s recent military assault on Gaza killed more than 2,168 Palestinians and injured over 10,895 people, and also destroyed many university buildings, schools, and other educational buildings. Restrictions on the freedom of movement and Israel’s brutal military occupation presents numerous challenges for Palestinian students in the West Bank. Palestinian students living inside Israel face discrimination at the hands of the Israeli universities at which they study. Israel’s control of borders makes it incredibly difficult for Palestinian students to take up offers to study overseas, especially for Palestinians living in Gaza, who are not allowed even to study at the universities of West Bank.

Support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is one of the most important steps that student unions internationally can take to stand with us in our struggle for our right to education and for freedom and justice.

By deciding not to sell Israeli products in student union shops, and by campaigning against European companies such as Veolia that help Israel to maintain its apartheid system, Sussex student union would be taking practical steps in solidarity with Palestinian students and youth, and making important contributions to efforts to end international support for Israel’s crimes.

As Palestinian student unions, we reject attempts by those that seek to defend Israel’s crimes to present their opposition to BDS as ‘progressive’ or based on ‘protecting the interests of Palestinians’. These attempts to undermine effective solidarity, including those that seek to promote the voices of those very few individual Palestinians that oppose BDS as somehow representative, are colonial in nature in that they seek to silence the voice of the overwhelming majority of Palestinian student unions and civil society as a whole, which is clear and unambiguous in its support for BDS.

We also wish to express our admiration and respect for student campaigners at the University of Sussex who have done so much to support BDS. When Sussex student union voted to boycott Israeli goods in 2009, it was one of the first student unions in the UK to do so. We hope that the student union at Sussex will continue to stand alongside the National Union of Students and the more than 20 other individual UK student unions that also support BDS and our struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Israel votes for permanent occupation and apartheid – it must face international isolation

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 17:36

The far-right in Israel may have given prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu his election victory after he officially promised not to recognize any Palestinian state and his racist remarks on Palestinian citizens, but the victory margin of Likud and other extremist Zionist parties that deny basic Palestinian rights are further evidence of a decisive shift among Jewish-Israelis to the far-right camp, dropping any pretense of seeking a just peace, leading Palestinian civil society activists said today.

Israel’s final ditching of the so-called “peace process” sham should deny world governments any excuse for not imposing sanctions against Israel, starting with a long overdue military embargo.

The convincing victory of the so-called “national camp,” a coalition of settler movements, Likud and their fanatic right partners, is seen by most Palestinians as a strong vote for perpetual Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid. It is also an opportunity to further isolate Israel, mainly through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as well as prosecution of Israeli war criminal at the International Criminal Court.

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

“The true face of the Israeli establishment has been revealed to the world. By rejecting Palestinian statehood and declaring he will not enter into any meaningful negotiations with Palestinians, Netanyahu has removed any excuse for governments not to impose sanctions on Israel and end their support for its colonial and apartheid regime.”

“This is a victory of apartheid and colonialism that should be met with sanctions against Israel by world governments and the UN.”

“European and other governments have consistently excused their lack of meaningful action to hold Israel to account by saying they did not want to damage prospects for a ‘two-state’ solution. How can governments defend their inaction now that Netanyahu has effectively buried the two-state solution?”

Nawajaa said that Netanyahu’s use of racism and incitement in the closing stages of the election campaign unmasked the Israeli establishment:

“Netanyahu race baiting and fear mongering among Jewish Israelis have revealed how deeply seated and prevalent racism has become in Israel. More than any previous Israeli leader, Netanyahu has clearly shown that he only represents Jewish Israelis, considering the indigenous Palestinian citizens an enemy that must be feared, hated and combated.”

“Today, we call once more on supporters of freedom and justice across the world to join us in intensifying our efforts to boycott Israel and to push governments to impose sanctions against Israeli apartheid, just as South African apartheid was isolated.”

Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist and a co-founder of the BDS movement, added:

“Israel, a belligerent nuclear power that completely disregards international law and basic human rights, will soon have its most fanatical government ever, with grave consequences for Palestinians as well as for world peace. Israel has dropped the mask.”

“The UN and world governments must take part of the blame for this victory by the far right. They have failed to hold Israel accountable to international law by imposing sanctions on it as was done against apartheid South Africa. They rejected pressure from world public opinion to stop Israel’s latest massacre in the besieged Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014 and its ongoing feverish colonization of the West Bank, especially in and around East Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley. They were apathetic when Israel adopted even more extreme, racist laws that have further entrenched its regime of legalized and institutionalized racism which meets the UN definition of apartheid.”

“The biggest losers in the Israeli election are the Israeli right parties that wear left masks, like Labor and Tzipi Livni’s party. Both are guilty of cementing the occupation, the settlements and the apartheid regime, and both are guilty of grave war crimes against the Palestinian people. While rejecting the basic right to equality for Palestinians, both have managed to maintain a false façade of ‘moderateness’ and even ‘left’ tendencies. The mask has fallen. There is a Zionist consensus, with no exceptions, against equality for Palestinians in Israel, against the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands and homes from which they were ethnically cleansed, and against a real end to Israel’s unique system of occupation, colonization and apartheid.”

Palestine Power Generation Company withdraws from Israel gas deal

Sat, 03/07/2015 - 17:03

Occupied Palestine, 4 March 2015 — The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) welcomes the announcement by the board of directors of the Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC) about the company’s “withdrawal a few months ago from the agreement with the developers of the [Israeli] Leviathan natural gas field” and the emphasis instead on using the “Palestinian natural gas off the coast of Gaza, out of its commitment to “national independence in the energy sector.”

PPGC had signed in early 2014 a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli-American “Delek-Noble” consortium to buy “Israeli gas” for the planned power plant near Jenin in the occupied Palestinian territory for a period of 20 years, at $ 1.2 billion.

The BNC, the largest coalition in Palestinian society and the reference for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, considered this MOU as a strategic mistake that would further entrench Palestinian economic dependency on Israel and legitimize prospective Israeli gas deals with other Arab countries, particularly Jordan and Egypt.

In the absence of any public position by the Palestine company in regard to cancelling the deal with Israel, the BNC held a press conference on February 17, 2015 with the participation of leading political, legislative and civil society figures, demanding that the company and the Palestinian Authority end all efforts to import Israeli gas on national and strategic, economic and security grounds.

After the BNC press conference, key Palestinian business and political figures added their voices to those calling for the cancellation of the Israeli gas deal, a demand that has won wide popular support as well.

The BNC reiterates its principled and unwavering support for the large alliance in Jordan calling for cancelling efforts by the Jordanian government to import Israeli gas. This Jordanian alliance, in which Jordan BDS plays a pivotal role, has mobilized support from all the major trade unions, a majority of members of parliament and leading activists and civil society organizations against the gas deal with Israel.

The BNC also confirms that ending the Palestinian gas deal with Israel pulls the rug from under the feet of any Jordanian official supporting the purchase of “Israeli gas” under the pretext of “we shall not be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves.”

Mahmoud Nawajaah, BNC General Coordinator, commented: “The import of Israeli gas would contribute to entrenching our economic dependency on Israel and strengthen the Israeli economy at a time when Israel’s international isolation is growing.”

He added, “Israel is facing growing boycotts and divestments in the academic, cultural and even economic spheres with the steady and impressive mainstream spread of the global BDS movement. We appeal to our brethren in Egypt and Jordan to stop the Israeli gas import negotiations to deprive the Israeli regime of occupation and apartheid of this strategic windfall. “