GENEVA (13 May 2013) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk today called for an immediate halt to construction of a settlement highway in Beit Safafa (East Jerusalem), also known as the ‘Begin Highway.’ Mr. Falk urged the Israeli Government, in particular the Ministry of Transport, to order a stop to the construction, which if completed, would cut through the community of Beit Safafa and ruin the livelihoods of the 9,300 Palestinian residents.
“The projected six-lane highway extending 1.5km will do irreparable damage to the community, cutting off local roads and blocking access to kindergartens, schools, health clinics, offices, and places of worship,” warned the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
“The residents of Beit Safafa, who were not consulted at any stage of the planning, will be placed in an absurd situation where places within their own community – previously accessible within ten minutes’ walk – would require travel by car on bypass roads and a bridge,” he said.
The Special Rapporteur noted that the highway purpose is to annex the Gush Etzion settlement bloc and pave the way for further expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements around East Jerusalem. “It will consolidate the highway network from Gush Etzion settlement in the southern West Bank through West and East Jerusalem, leading to the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc and the E1 area,” he said.
Mr. Falk recalled the recent findings* of the International Fact Finding Mission on Israeli settlements, which recommended that private companies should no longer be able to profit from their involvement in the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise.
“Companies taking part in the construction of the illegal highway in Beit Safafa, under the auspices of the Moriah Jerusalem Development Company and their implementing partner, D.Y. Barazani Ltd., must be held responsible,” the independent expert stressed. “Earth moving equipment of Volvo, CAT, Hyundai and JCB has been seen at the construction sites.”
The Special Rapportuer noted that the road project, which began in September 2012, was challenged in the Jerusalem District Court last December, but the residents’ petition to stop construction was rejected. An appeal filed with the Israeli High Court against the District Court’s decision was also rejected in March 2013. An appeal hearing as to the petition has been scheduled in the High Court for 26 June 2013.
(*) Check the report by the International Fact Finding Mission: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A-HRC-22-63_en.pdf
In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights. Learn more, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm
Letter of the Palestinian Postal Service Workers’ Union to the South African Communication Workers on the 65th commemoration of the Nakba
Sisters and brothers of South Africa, dear to our hearts,
Fraternal greetings from Palestine,
We address you today as we commemorate the grim anniversary of our Nakba, our national catastrophe, and as our days continue to be filled with calamities and sufferings. While the living conditions of our fellow Palestinian refugees outside Palestine are worsening by the day, inside the occupied Palestinian territory we are faced with the daily discriminatory and racist acts and decisions of the Israeli Occupying Power aimed at stealing our lands and turning Palestinian towns into isolated cantons. This continued oppression and injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people is possible because of the absence of international pressure on part of governments, and Palestinian workers, who form the bulk of the Palestinian people, bear their full share of oppression due to Israeli Apartheid policies. Thus on this sad day, we direct the following message to you:
On behalf of all Palestinian postal workers, we would like to thank you for your solidarity with our Palestinian cause and for organizing this demonstration on the day of our commemoration of the Nakba. We highly appreciate your support for the boycott campaign against Apartheid Israel, and we are asking you to broaden the appeal for the boycott of all Israeli organizations and products in order to pressure Israel to stop its aggression against the Palestinian people, including its illegal appropriation of postal revenues and physical attacks against Palestinian postal workers. We call for a continuation of this boycott until Israel recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to return, our right to a life in dignity and our right to self-determination.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Dear comrades of the South African Communication Workers Union (CWU),
The Palestinian Postal Service Workers’ Union proudly stands in solidarity with your labor demands and your struggle against unjust and exploitative anti-worker practices in the South African communications sector. We ask the South African Post Office to respond to your demands, end its unfair treatment of communication workers and improve their situation, and ensure full respect of workers’ fundamental human rights.
Our message to your government is that dialogue is the only way to solve all labor crisis and the real key to partnership and respect of human rights.
Long live Palestine, may it be free and independent at last!
Long live the friendship and solidarity between the workers of Palestine and South Africa!
May the communication workers of South Africa achieve all their demands!
Palestinian Postal Service Workers’ Union
(PPSWU) State of Palestine 15/5/2013
May 15, 2013 marks the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, which resulted in the catastrophic expulsion of the over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948, and creation of the first batch of Palestinian Refugees. Some three-quarters of the Palestinian Arab population or over 750,000 Palestinians were expelled by military assault or threat and over 400 Palestinian cities and towns were destroyed.
The YWCA was one of the first NGOs (nongovernment organizations) to provide services for Palestinian refugees. Before UNRWA was established, the YWCA responded to the emergency needs of the population, and later created women’s training centers and pre-schools in what is now the Aqabet Jaber Refugee Camp Center near Jericho. In 1951 the YWCA of Jordan was formed with branches and centers in the refugee camps on both the East and West Bank of the River Jordan.
Since 1991, and through the Resolutions issued in its World Council Meetings, the
YWCA has affirmed all UN Resolutions, including the right of return for all Palestinian
refugees and Palestinians living in exile. This is part of the YWCA’s continued
commitment to Peace with Justice and the right of all peoples to self-determination,
freedom, and dignity. Like all refugees, Palestinian refugees have an internationally
recognized right to repatriation and compensation for their suffering. UN General Assembly Resolution 194 states that “Refugees wishing to return to their
homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest
The YWCA of Palestine believes that 65 years far exceeds “the earliest practical date.” It
also believes that the Ongoing Nakba of Israel’s ongoing denial of displaced
Palestinians’ right to return as well as the ongoing experience of forced displacement
and dispossession is the result of Israeli policies and practices to forcibly transfer
Palestinians out of Palestine.
On this 65th anniversary, we urge the YWCA’s around the world, our global
partners, and major human rights organizations throughout Palestine and the
1. Join us in remembering the terrible events of the Nakba. We invite you to pray
and organize/join Nakba events in your countries and communities.
2. Continue to hold Israel accountable to humanitarian and international law.
3. Urge your governments to call on Israel to respect and implement all UN
Resolutions pertaining to Palestine, including the 242, 338 and 194, so the
Palestinians can practice their right for self-determination and establish their own
4. And most importantly to continue to advocate for an end to Israel’s continued
displacement and dispossession laws, policies, and practices by putting pressure
on Israel to comply through morally responsible investment initiatives like
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
National President – Abla Nasir
National General Secretary – Mira Rizeq
Check out the following sources for information, advocacy and action:
65 Years of Impunity by Saeb Erekat, PLO Executive Member and Chief Palestinian
Negotiator’s Op Ed: http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=595459
TEDX Ramallah video with Sam Bahour on Refugees Waiting
Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights www.badil.org.
The YWCA of Palestine has selected 6 of the destroyed or depopulated villages
from refugees in Jalozoune Refugee Camp, and will be designing dolls for sale, to
support refugee women programs. Each doll comes with in an embroidered dress
unique to the village or region, information about the Nakaba, the village, and an
oral history. For more information, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
On the 15th of May we remember Nakba day. In 1948 the state of Israel was born and 750 000 Palestinians were made refugee. On this symbolic day 30 activists of the Belgian peace organizations ‘Vrede vzw’, ‘Vredesactie’ and the solidarity movement ‘Intal’ organised an action at DG Enterprise in Brussels to demand an end of European funding of the Israeli military industry through the research program FP-7.
According to Ludo De Brabander, spokesperson for the three organisations: “Both Elbit Systems and Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI), two Israeli weapon manufacturers, provide equipment for the Israeli wall that has been declared illegal by International Law. Both are important market leaders of drones that are used for militairy operations in the Palestinian Territories that are illegaly occupied. These same companies receive European funds by particiapting in several research programs under FP7 worth 235,8 million euro.”
Two activists clothed as businessmen from the Israeli arms industry entered the building of DG Enterprise (EU Commission) to ask for more funding of common research programs under the new Horizon 2020 program. Acting in front of security officers they said: “We represent the Israeli arms manufacturing Industry. We’re here to ensure that the very generous research funding that our members currently receive from the European Commission will continue under the coming Horizon 2020 program.”
In a cynical manner both actvist/businessmen pointed to widespread Israeli human rights violations: “you can rest assure that previous money committed under the Framework Program 7 has been spent well,” referring to the funding of drone programs in European Security Research projects with the participation of Israeli arms producers. Israeli Airospace Industries (IAI), the biggest Israeli arms company, has been involved in at least 69 Research and Development programs subsidised by the EU.
Palestinian victims, represented by blood covered activist, showed their suffering as a result of numerous operations by the Israeli military. They unfolded a banner with the message: “Stop EU funding of the Israeli Military industry.”
The actvists demand that in the future Horizon 2020 program, starting in 2014, participation in EU research funding will be subject to ethical criteria to avoid funding of companies and institutions involved in human rights violations.
On July 9 2011, the largest Palestinian coalition encompassing all Palestinian political parties, trade unions, NGOs and mass organisations, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), issued a call for an immediate and comprehensive military embargo on Israel.
“A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It forms a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region, and it constitutes an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law,” reads the BNC’s call.
Reports and pictures (free use) can be downloaded through: http://www.militair-embargo-israel.be/pers/
As the Cannes Film Festival opens today, a coalition of U.S. human rights organizations is criticizing the American Pavilion’s choice of SodaStream as its premier sponsor. The Israeli producer of home carbonation devices touts itself as socially responsible, but critics have pointed out that SodaStream’s primary production facilities are located in the Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, built in the occupied Palestinian West Bank in violation of international law, and in opposition to official U.S. government policy going back decades.
“While we appreciate the American Pavilion’s desire to be more environmentally friendly and socially responsible by avoiding the wasteful use of cans, these efforts are completely negated and overshadowed by accepting sponsorship from a company like SodaStream, which is complicit in serious human rights abuses,” said Donna Hicks of the Interfaith Boycott Coalition, comprised of organizations of Catholic, Church of the Brethren, Episcopalian, Jewish, Lutheran, Mennonite, Muslim, Presbyterian, Quaker, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist traditions. “We hope that the Pavilion’s founder Julie Sisk will see that a commitment to the environment cannot be detached from respect for human rights and international law.”
Because it has production facilities in the illegal settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, SodaStream pays taxes to its municipal government, which are destined exclusively for Ma’aleh Adumim’s growth and development, to the detriment of Palestinians living nearby on whose land Ma’aleh Adumim was built. Additionally, far from protecting the environment, SodaStream contributes to the pollution of Palestinian land and water. The Ma’aleh Adumim settlement manages the Israeli landfill at Abu Dis, also built on land confiscated from Palestinians. More than 1,100 tons of waste from Jerusalem and Israeli settlements is dumped there daily. The Israeli Ministry for the Environment has stated that the landfill is “polluting nearby streams and land.”
The international coalition — which includes the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a coalition of more than 400 U.S. organizations, and Association France Palestine Solidarité — is urging industry professionals attending Cannes to boycott the SodaStream bar at the American Pavilion, and is calling on the general public to ask retailers to remove SodaStream products from their stores. See here for a video uploaded on Monday recalling the U.S. creative community’s long history of standing up for social justice issues, and urging Cannes attendees and the general public to support the boycott of SodaStream.
American Muslims for Palestine
Association France Palestine Solidarité
Boycott from Within – Israel
Chico Palestine Action Group
Citizens for Justice in the Middle East
CodePink Women for Peace
14 Friends of Palestine – Marin
Friends of Sabeel – North America
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – Finland
Interdenominational Advocates for Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace – DC Metro
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
LA Jews for Peace
Labor for Palestine
National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee
Palestine-Israel Action Committee
Palestine Solidarity Campaign – United Kingdom
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (a coalition of 400 U.S. organizations)
A professionally-produced video recently appeared on YouTube, taking the viewer on a carefully-constructed tour of the production facilities for the Israeli companySodaStream, manufacturer of carbonated drink machines.
The 8.5-minute video focuses on the firm’s factory located in Mishor Adumim, the industrial zone of the illegal Israeli settlement Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank, and its Palestinian workers. The underlying message throughout the video is that the company’s settlement factory is a “fantastic sanctuary of co-existence” and, despite being built on stolen Palestinian land, is beneficial to the Palestinian economy and workers.
The video was recently shown to M., a Palestinian employee of SodaStream who has worked on the assembly line at Mishor Adumim for a long time and lives under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. M. spoke to The Electronic Intifada on condition of anonymity.
His immediate reaction to the blissful setting presented in the video was one of shock.“Lies”
“I feel humiliated and I am also disgraced as a Palestinian, as the claims in this video are all lies. We Palestinian workers in this factory always feel like we are enslaved,” M. said.
The release of the video coincided with the launch of SodaStream boycott campaigns in the US, considered the company’s most important market. Taking advantage of the company’s major marketing offensive in the US, including a $4 million Super Bowl ad, boycott campaigns succeeded in garnering press coverage exposing SodaStream’s complicity with Israeli violations of international law.
M. and his fellow workers were unaware of the boycotts. “They never told us about boycotts at all,” he remarked.
Instead the premise for the video presented to the workers was nothing less than a way to maintain their jobs, otherwise at risk due to a lack of orders. M. said that “When they came and told us about the video, they announced that they wanted to market SodaStream globally, with a special presentation to the US, and they wanted to show the work and how it was improving.”
M. and his coworkers had been told that the company planned to “let some of the workers go before the end of the year,” but a $500-million order from the US had changed things and a “campaign to support the company’s sales” would save their jobs.
The YouTube video is clearly part of SodaStream’s public relations campaign, which lately has focused on the company’s Palestinian workers. In a speech given in early February at an Israel Advocacy Seminar in Johannesburg, Amir Sagie, director of the civil society affairs department for the Israeli foreign ministry, stated, “SodaStream have appointed lobbyists — an initiative that is paying dividends” (“Trends to expect from BDS & how to klap them,” MyShetl, 6 February 2013).
According to M., the workers appearing in the video were given instructions on what to say. “I actually saw the company preparation work [for the video]; they were preparing all the workers and telling them what to say and how to say it,” he said.
In the video, Sodastream’s chief executive Daniel Birnbaum appears as if he’s a constant presence in the Mishor Adumim factory. M. explained that this is not at all the case.
“I have worked here for a long time, and I have never seen him at the factory. This is the first time I see him [in the video]. They have their offices in Israel, and they do not come here,” he said.
By M.’s estimates, SodaStream employs 800-850 workers on the factory floor, 90 percent of whom are Palestinians. The only Jewish Israelis doing “hand work” are “new immigrants, as they call them; olim hadashim or the ‘black Jews’ as they describe them.”
Only a tiny fraction of the Palestinians employees hold higher level positions and there are none at all in management. “In all of SodaStream, there are only two foremen who are West Bank Palestinians, and they are supervised by two Israeli Arabs,” said M.Discrimination
When asked if there was discrimination between black and white Jews, M. replied, “Yes, for sure. You will not [find] white Jews wearing yarmulke [a skull cap] doing the hard work or ‘hand work.’ The supervisors who run the factory are mainly Russian and they are managed mainly by the white Jews, and we are ‘Palestinians,’ only workers.”
M. also talked of discriminatory hiring practices, explaining that “most Israelis are hired through the company directly,” while West Bank Palestinians require “a special security permit to be employed.” The settlement factory has an internal security officer who “takes care of applying for the permits from the Israeli authorities.”
M. added that Palestinian workers from Jerusalem, along with immigrant workers and African Jews, work through external manpower companies and may be hired after nine months “if they prove to be good workers.” Otherwise, he said, “they are let go.”
The recent report from the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements notes that a “stringent system of permits and quotas that determines employment in Israel and the settlements lends itself to abuse by contractors and middlemen.”“Not allowed to pray”
The video touts an onsite mosque where SodaStream’s Muslim workers go to pray. M. told a very different story.
“A good example that shocked me was the claims [in the video] about the freedom to practice our prayers,” he said. “Those claims are all false. There is a full discrimination against the [Muslim] workers and we are denied our right to practice our religion.”
M. noted that the mosque shown in the video “is just the locker room,” and that supervisors had “even hidden the carpets from the workers” in an attempt to prevent them from praying.
Restrictions on are especially severe on the assembly line, where most West Bank Palestinians work. M. explained that they are only allowed to pray if prayer times fall “during their lunch break,” otherwise “they are not allowed to pray at all.”
This is not the first time SodaStream has put its celebration of multiculturalism on promotional display. In 2009, following extensive negative press in Sweden, the workers’ rights organization Kav LaOved reported that SodaStream organized “a party celebrating the factory’s multicultural makeup: Sudanese, Ethiopian, Russian and Palestinian.” The group noted that “some of the Palestinian workers, who had not registered for the event, were only allowed to participate for one hour, and then returned to work while others continued to celebrate multiculturalism in their name” (“Multiculturalism at the Soda Club factory,” 2 May 2009).
While M. confirmed Palestinian workers are currently paid “three or four times the salary we can get at the Palestinian Authority” — not the four to five times more mentioned in the video — this only came about following workers’ struggles and protests in which many lost their jobs, the intervention of Kav LaOved and negative publicity in Europe, as documented by the group Who Profits from the Occupation? in a report on SodaStream (“SodaStream: A case study for corporate activity in illegal Israeli settlements,” January 2011 [PDF]).“From work to bed”
However, the same job insecurity and harsh working conditions reported by Who Profits remain. M. described the working week at the factory as “from work to bed,” leaving little free time for anything else. Employees work on a “four-two” system, meaning that they work for four days, 12 hours per day, with two days off — totaling 60 hours of work in a seven-day period.
According to the Israeli Hours of Work and Rest Law, a working day “shall not exceed eight working hours” and shift workers “shall not be employed for more than one hour of overtime per day, and that the average for three weeks shall not exceed 45 working hours per week.”
The SodaStream factory has two shifts, day and night, and M. explained that workers change shifts every four days with “no day that you leave early.”
Requests to leave early are rarely approved. These working conditions apply to both men and women. M. explained that women workers also work night shifts and 12-hour shifts.
He also noted that “there is no extra pay for overtime or night shifts,” in violation of the Hours of Work and Rest Law.
Making the work day or night even longer, Palestinian workers must allow two additional hours for transportation to and from the Israeli settlement, where they are not allowed to live. “They pick us up at six in the morning or the evening, and we arrive home at least an hour after work. Around 14 hours you are away from home, and there is no time to see our families,” M. explained.One big family?
SodaStream’s CEO Daniel Birnbaum has referred to the factory workers as one big family. M. disputed this portrayal, and explained some of the job insecurities Palestinian workers face: “They treat us like slaves. This has happened many times on the assembly line: when a worker is sick and wants to take sick leave, the supervisor will fire him on the second day. They will not even give him warning or send him to human resources, they will immediately fire him.”
Birnbaum also claims in the video that SodaStream received no government incentives for its settlement factory. However, all three of the company’s own annual reports filed with the Security and Exchange Commission in the US, including the report for 2012, clearly stated that transfer of their production facilities “to a location outside of the disputed territories” may “limit certain tax benefits” (“United States securities and exchange commission, SodaStream International Ltd.”).
M. noted that some production is currently being shifted to a new factory at Alon Tavor in the Galilee, within present-day Israel. “Now they have a new assembly department inside Israel, and [the factory] is getting less work. They are forcing the workers to work less, sometimes only for two or three days a week only, which means less salary.” Those unhappy with just 10 to 12 work days per month “are ‘free to go,’” he added.
The rumors at the Mishor Adumim factory are that it will soon close, with all production moving inside Israel. Despite the conditions, M. and others “are hoping that the workers will be able to move and continue working there too.” As M. explained, “All of the workers have no other choice but to work in the settlement factory; we want to feed our children and there are no work opportunities in the Palestinian Authority.”Cover for illegality
A recently-published update from Who Profits on SodaStream’s facilities showed that the Alon Tavor site serves as cover for the company’s illegal settlement factory. Who Profits cites an article from the Israeli business publication Globes, in which Birnbaum claimed products sold in countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, and France are manufactured at Alon Tavor due to “the sensitivity in these countries to Israeli products manufactured beyond the green line.”
However, examining details on production facilities listed in SodaStream’s own annual report for 2012, WhoProfits demonstrated that it would not possible for a complete SodaStream machine to be produced at Alon Tavor.
The company has also won a 25-million-shekel ($7 million) government grant for construction of a new plant in the Idan Industrial Zone in the Negev (Naqab), capable of housing all of the company’s production under one roof (“SodaStream wins NIS 25 m grant for Negev plant,” Globes, 4 April 2013).
Birnbaum recently threatened to move production to another continent if Israeli government subsidies, such as grants and tax breaks, are reduced. According to SodaStream’s 2012 annual report, its effective tax rate was 1.7 percent for 2012, and 10.9 percent for 2011. The corporate tax rate in Israel is 25 percent (“SodaStream CEO: More Israel investment depends on incentives,” Globes, 24 April 2013).
While Birnbaum, beholden to his Nasdaq investors, concentrates on the bottom line, his settlement factory is part of a system described in the United Nations Human Rights Council report on settlements as exerting “a heavy toll on the rights of the Palestinians.”
This systematic denial of basic rights outlined in that report creates the conditions that force Palestinians to turn to settlement companies for job opportunities. The report maintains that “the inability for the Palestinian economy to expand and offer opportunities, high unemployment rates and falling wages in the Palestinian labor market, inflation and increasing poverty are factors that drive Palestinians to seek employment in the settlements and in Israel.”
In an email to The Electronic Intifada, a spokesperson for Who Profits stated that Israeli settlement companies exploit Palestinian laborers while claiming that the work benefits them. “A business that operates unlawfully cannot demand legitimacy on behalf of the workers and at their expense,” the spokesperson said. Who Profits added that in other cases of exploitative employment, “civil society worldwide rejected employers as legitimate representatives of their workers” and maintained instead that “major corporations and colonial powers be held accountable for their actions.”
In 1996, Sodastream made a decision to locate its production facilities in an area under military occupation and has maintained them there ever since. When confronted with this clear violation of international law, the company chose not to address it but rather sought to use its Palestinian workers to deflect attention away from its role in maintaining Israel’s unjust colonial system.
What we can do as people of conscience genuinely concerned for Palestinian workers, is to step up boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against companies like SodaStream, to ensure we can soon celebrate true multiculturalism, with guarantees of equal rights for all.
Stephanie Westbrook is a US citizen based in Rome, Italy. Her articles have been published on Common Dreams, Counterpunch, The Electronic Intifada, In These Times and Z Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @stephinrome.
The Student Representative Council at the University of Sydney passed a motion endorsing Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s academic boycott of Israel this week.
The motion was brought forth in response to attacks against Associate Professor Jake Lynch for refusing to assist Dan Avnon – a visiting academic from Hebrew University in Israel – in December.
The Student Representative Council (SRC) also voted to support an end to all university ties with Technion University in Haifa, Israel.
Dr Lynch, who is the director of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies said: “By continuing institutional links to Israeli high education, universities here risk unwittingly becoming indirectly complicit in violations of international laws and abuses of human rights.”
Erima Dall, the SRC member who put the motion forward, said boycotting institutional links with Israel is a necessary action.
“We cannot normalise relations with Israeli institutions complicit in the occupation of Palestine. Students at the University of Sydney should not, and do not, want to be endorsing these crimes. A clear message needs to be sent – Israel needs to end the occupation and its colonisation of Palestinian land, end apartheid, stop building its settler-colonies, and allow the right of return to Palestinians,” she said.
Suzanne Asad, the president of Students for Justice in Palestine at USYD, echoed these sentiments and said students and citizens of conscience should stand up for justice and human rights in Palestine, and support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
“If we don’t end Sydney University’s links with the Technion and other Israeli institutions, then we are implicated in the crimes committed against Palestine,” she said.
The statement, which the SRC voted to sign and publish, states:
“Israel is a state that systematically defies international law. It has occupied Palestinian territories in defiance of the UN Security Council for over 40 years, expanding settlements which are regarded as illegal by the international community.
“Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a non-violent and effective strategy to help end Israeli impunity and move towards the realisation of the Palestinians’ rights. The Hebrew University is clearly implicated in the illegal occupation as its Mount Scopus campus occupies land in East Jerusalem which is internationally recognised as being on the Palestinian side of the Green Line.”
Technion University is involved in manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles and the building of illegal separation wall annexing Palestinian land in the West Bank. The statement states: “Technion…is an Israeli university uniquely and directly implicated in war crimes. (Its) research history includes the development of the remote control D9 bulldozer used to demolish Palestinian homes in violation of the Geneva Conventions and it has strong links to Elbit Systems – the company that produces technology for the apartheid wall declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.”
State Labor MP, Lynda Voltz, said it is appropriate for the SRC, given its strong tradition of supporting oppressed people and injustice, to support their academic staff in calling for an end to ties with Technion.
“Israel continues to ignore the United Nations. It builds illegal settlements on the land of the Palestinian people, destroys their houses, builds a wall around their homes and blockades the Port of Gaza to punish the 1.6million men, women and children who live there,” she said.
“Israel does not listen to words or motions and continues to abuse human rights and to act in violation of international laws. As in South Africa, it is only through the peaceful actions of campaigns such as the BDS that any change will happen,” Voltz said.
The statement has been endorsed by Mary Kostakidis, the Convener of the Peace Prize jury and co-winner of the University of Sydney Alumni Award for Community Achievement, and Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees who is the Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation.
Jennine Abdul Khalik, Australian Students for Justice in Palestine executive, said she commended the SRC for choosing to stand on the right side of history.
“Australian universities, including the University of Sydney, need to condemn Israeli apartheid and follow the example of academic institutions and student unions throughout North America, Europe, and South Africa that have endorsed BDS and boycotted and divested from Israel,” she said.
International efforts at achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace: Civil society initiatives for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine
The following speech was delivered by Na’eem Jeenah, a community leader and anti-war activist in South Africa, to the UN International Meeting on Palestine, Addis Ababa, 29-30 April 2013
Good afternoon, Excellencies, members of the committee for the protection of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and staff of the Division for Palestinian rights, ladies and gentlemen.
On 9 July 2005, Palestinian civil society and political organisations – about 200 in total – issued a call to the people of the world to implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions on Israel, in what is now famously known as the BDS call.
Four days later, on 13 July 2005, the Call received its first global endorsement when the UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Middle East Peace, held in Paris, endorsed the call in its civil society ‘Action Plan 2005’. (‘We recognize that, as an international network, our strength lies in our ability to work collectively in unified campaigns and actions. To that end, we urge international, national and regional social movements, organizations and coalitions to support the unified call of Palestinian civil society for a global campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to end the occupation and fully comply with international law and all relevant United Nations resolutions… We call on our partner organizations to intensify all our activities, focusing on the BDS campaign so that together we will end the Occupation.’)
Since then, the BDS Call has become the touchstone, reference point, uniting symbol and tactical (even strategic for some) programme for civil society globally.
And so, in talking about civil society initiatives for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine, we must necessarily focus on the global BDS movement.
The Call has three basic demands on Israel:
Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
All three demands are, of course, based on international law and UN resolutions.
Let me deviate slightly for just a moment to refer to the strategy for overcoming apartheid in South Africa, in order to make a point later.
In South Africa, we refer to the ‘four pillars of struggle’ that formed the basis of the struggle against apartheid. These were:
The armed struggle;
The internal underground;
International solidarity and, through it, international isolation of the South African state; and
Mass mobilisation within the country.
While we South Africans like to think that other people can learn from our experiences – both good and bad, we, together with the rest of civil society, acknowledge that our activism on Palestine must respond to what Palestinians request of us.
Currently, that request is, in the main, to support and participate in the non-violent campaign of BDS. For South Africans, this was our third pillar. (Let me note here that we acknowledge that, in South Africa, the third and fourth pillars – international solidarity and mass mobilisation – were the most effective ones.)
From the Israeli perspective, of course, BDS is referred to as the main leg of a ‘delegitimisation campaign’.
Over the past almost eight years, the Palestinian BDS campaign has achieved more successes in various parts of the world than South Africa’s campaign had in about twenty years.
For South Africa, we had painstakingly begun with building a cultural and sports boycott, academic boycott, then a consumer boycott, followed by campaigns for divestment, sanctions and diplomatic isolation. These were long and hard campaigns, developed both within and without South Africa. And it took decades before we made any gains. By the time our liberation movements were unbanned, numerous western countries, in particular, were still staunchly refusing to entertain the notion of sanctions.
Like in the Palestinian case now, ours was a campaign of delegitimisation and of isolation of the apartheid state. Allow me to say at this point that for those who seek a just peace, there can be nothing wrong with delegitimising or isolating an occupying, colonial or apartheid state. Indeed, when that state was as strong (militarily, economically and diplomatically) as apartheid South Africa was or as Israel is, then such strategies are often the best strategies for foreign solidarity movements. (And, for Ambassador Ilan Baruch, let me respond here to his requested, in almost the words he used: ‘What bars us from engaging normally with Israel is not you, Israeli people, but the policies of your successive governments,’ their violations of international law and human rights. And, to add, firstly, that we in global civil society who are in solidarity with the Palestinian people have no problem engaging with Israelis who support justice – for Palestinians and themselves, international law and UN resolutions as they relate to Israel. And, when Israel complies with all international laws and UN resolutions we will be ready to end its isolation.)
The BDS campaign focuses its attention on the Israeli state, institutions and companies linked to settlement activity and to the state, as well as, for various reasons, on academic institutions.
In the past eight years, then, the Palestinian campaign has seen victories.
At the consumer level – resulting, for example, in Israeli company Agrexco filing for liquidation in 2011 and Ahava closing its main London store and being boycotted by retailers in UK, Norway, Japan, Canada and South Africa.
At the academic level – the most recent being the decision by the Association for Asian American Studies to endorse the academic boycott, and, two years ago, the University of Johannesburg in South Africa deciding not to enter into any institutional relations with Israeli institutions.
At the cultural and sports level – with an increasing number of artists and writers refusing to perform in Israel and issuing statements or having performances in support of the Palestinian people and the BDS campaign. Bono, Snoop Dogg, Jean Luc Godard, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott Heron, Carlos Santana, Devendra Banhart, Faithless, the Pixies, Cassandra Wilson, Cat Power, Zakir Hussain, Roger Waters, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, John Berger, Judith Butler, Etienne Balibar, Ken Loach, Arundhati Roy, Angela Davis, Sarah Schulman, Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
At the commercial level there have been some successes with companies like G4S (the European parliament decided not renew a contract with G4S because of protests) and Veolia and in, South Africa, for example, where a company producing dates bowed to pressure and severed its relationship with Israeli company Hadiklaim.
Divestment decisions by churches and other civil society groups as well as, for example, the Norwegian finance ministry deciding to exclude Israeli company Elbit from the investment portfolio of the Government Pension Fund Global. Several European banks have also divested from Alstom, one of Veoilia’s partners in the Jerusalem Light Rail project.
At governmental level, in the case of South Africa and some European countries poised to pass legislation to label settlement products.
In addition, there has also been an increase in attention given to the Jewish National Fund in some countries – such as the United States, South Africa and Scotland. In South Africa, for example, a group of South African Jews have set up an organisation called Stop the JNF to convince Jews in South Africa not to support the JNF because of the use of its funds to effect theft of Palestinian land, building of settlements, etc. One of the painful aspects of JNF activity for many South Africans is that the destroyed village of Lubya, in the north of Israel, most of whose residents have been internally displaced, has been covered by the JNF, using South African funds, with what is called the ‘South Africa Forest’ – under the guise of an environmental project.
The JNF, along with other arms of the Israeli state, have, however, been working with determination in various parts of Africa. In South Africa, for example, the JNF has an environmental project in a poor township called Mamelodi. There are also various Israeli agricultural projects in South Africa and other parts of Africa. This makes tackling the JNF more difficult.
Indeed, the penetration of the Israeli state in Africa – particularly through various African governments – is disturbing and poses a serious challenge to civil society organisations. Not only is this a concern from the perspective of Palestinian solidarity but, in some cases, it is also a concern for the sovereignty of these countries themselves and for the rights of their citizens. When private security services supported by a foreign state begin replacing policing, for example, this is a concerning trend that poses risks for the country concerned.
Let us be honest, despite all the good talk about Africa’s support for the Palestinian struggle (and I gratefully acknowledge Ambassador Ka’s comments in this regard), many African countries today are not playing the necessary role in opposing the occupation and supporting the Palestinian people. In my own country, for example, trade with Israel since 2005 has been increasing by more than fifteen per cent on average year-on-year. Various other African countries have a range of overt and covert relationships with Israel, including in the fields of security, intelligence and defence. On our continent, civil society has a huge task to monitor and lobby the relationships of our governments with Israel. And this despite the fact that many of our countries and peoples have intimate connections with the Palestinian people. South African freedom fighters trained and fought with Palestinian fighters; some of our comrades were even with the PLO in Beirut in 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon. Now is not the time to drop the ball and betray the Palestinian people!
Speaking about Palestinian solidarity in Africa, it must be noted that while numerous countries in Africa have Palestinian solidarity organisations, they have, however, failed thus far to develop a continent-wide solidarity network that could make all their activities more effective. This remains an urgent task for these organisations.
The role that global society can and should be playing, then, in attempting to work towards a just peace and the liberation of Palestinians and Israeli Jews, is to broaden and deepen the BDS campaign. African civil society has been somewhat lacking in this regard and it is about time civil society groups on this continent responded vociferously to the BDS Call. The Call places on African and global civil society groups an immense task and responsibility to push forward the isolation of the Israeli state until it abides by international law and UN resolutions.
30 April 2013
The University of Sheffield has decided not to renew its waste collection contract with multinational corporation Veolia following a campaign initiated by the campus Palestine Society and supported by the student union. The campaign called on the university to cut ties with the company over its contracts with the Israeli state to provide waste and transport services to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Sheffield Student Union voted to support boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns by a large majority in a referendum held in October, and the student union and other campus groups actively supported the campaign against Veolia.
In a statement released last night, Sheffield University Palestine Society said:
This comes after a year of concerted action and protest by the Palestine Society and the wider student body against the presence of Veolia on campus, as part of the Students’ Union’s campaign of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against perpetrators of war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories …
… By passing it as official union policy it was possible to send a much stronger message to the university: that the student body as a whole does not want to incentivise companies, like Veolia, who suffer from such an abject lack of moral compass. Following the policy’s success in the October vote, we have worked with various groups to lobby and pressure the university into taking notice of the student voice. This has included an open letter signed by the Palestine Society and other campaigning groups, demonstrations on the concourse, letters from human rights groups in Palestine, Israel, and beyond, and direct lobbying from the sabbatical officers.
It is enormously gratifying that university management appears to have been responsive to the concerns both of ourselves and of the wider student body …
In the weeks following the passing of the BDS resolution and the start of the campaign against the Veolia contract, the university decided not to invoke a clause in its contract with the company that would have renewed the deal for a further year and would instead put the deal out to tender. The waste management contract has now been awarded to one of Veolia’s competitors. This is believed to be the first time that a university anywhere in the world has cut ties to Veolia following a student campaign.Campus solidarity spreading
The victory at Sheffield caps a hugely successful academic year for the student movement for Palestine in the UK.
In February, Israeli deputy ambassador to the UK Alon Roth-Snir was forced to abandona talk at the University of Essex by student protests. A talk by Roth-Snir at the University of Birmingham was severely disrupted.
The Dundee University Student Association voted in February to terminate its contract with G4S due to the role the British-Danish company plays in providing security equipment and services to Israeli jails at which Palestinian political prisoners aretortured. The We Are All Hana Shalabi student network organized huge demonstrations in Scotland during Israel’s November 2012 attack on Gaza.
In January, students at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen announced that they had succesfully pressured their univesrity to terminate its relationship with Eden Springs, an Israeli water company complicit in the occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights and in Israel’s theft of Palestinian water. Eden Springs water coolers have now been forced off at least seven UK campuses by boycott campaigners.Student unions support BDS
This academic year has also seen more student unions pass resolutions to support a boycott of Israel.
Last month, students at the University of Sussex voted to renew a policy not to sell Israeli goods in student union shops and to initate a campaign against a contract between the university and Veolia. A huge 72 percent of voters supported the motion to boycott Israeli goods.
Resolutions in support of BDS have also been passed this academic year at Queen Mary’s University of London, University College London, the Wadham College of the University of Oxford and the University of East London. Student unions at more than twenty UK universities now officially support BDS. The University of London Union, the largest single student union in Europe, endorses BDS and the National Union of Students supports the campaigns against Veolia and Eden Springs.
As yesterday’s announcement by Sheffield University shows, using union policy support for BDS as a basis for building effective campaigning by student unions and campus activists can create the pressure required to force universities to end ties with companies profiting from Israeli apartheid.Organizing for success
More than twenty UK campus groups participated in Israeli Apartheid Week 2013 in late February, hosting events with Palestinian activists Haidar Eid, Abir Kopty, Yafa Jarrar and Rafeef Ziadah and Israeli BDS activist Ronnie Barkan.
Following the success of the week and reflecting a desire by campus activists to develop BDS campaigning and national coordination, student Palestine solidarity groups issued a statement calling for a national student organizing conference for the start of the next academic year in October. Hopefully the conference can help to build campaigns capable of replicating the fantastic success at the University of Sheffield.
As announced by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) and subsequently covered by The Guardian, Reuters and others, world-renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Professor Stephen Hawking has decided to heed the Palestinian call for boycott, and pull out of an Israeli conference hosted by President Shimon Peres in June. After initial confusion, this was confirmed - Hawking is staying away on political grounds.
Here are five reasons why Professor Hawking is right to boycott:
5. Whitewashing apartheid
The Israeli government and various lobby groups use events such as the “Presidential Conference” to whitewash Israel’s crimes past and present, a tactic sometimes referred to as “rebranding”. As a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official put it after the 2009 Gaza massacre, it is the kind of approach that means sending “well-known novelists and writers overseas, theatre companies, [and] exhibits” in order to “show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war”. “Brand Israel” is all about creating a positive image for a country that is the target of human rights campaigners the world over – as if technological innovations or high-profile conferences can hide the reality of occupation and ethnic cleansing.
4. Shimon Peres
Despite his reputation in the West as a “dove”, Peres’ career to date includes war crimes in Lebanon,support for collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, and, in private discussions, incitementagainst non-Jewish citizens. Anyone would do well to avoid a conference hosted by such a hypocrite. Simply not being Ariel Sharon does not really cut it; Peres should be scheduled for a trip to The Hague, not welcoming foreign dignitaries and celebrities.
3. Boycott is not incompatible with ‘dialogue’
Contrary to the rhetoric of Israeli officials and sympathisers, boycott is not contrary to dialogue. Hawking’s decision, for example, will mean people are discussing Israeli policies and strategies for ending occupation. That is not atypical – BDS initiatives often encourage a meaningful exchange of views and perspectives. However, some people abuse the concept of dialogue to defend an asymmetrical status quo, leaving intact a colonial power dynamic where, in the words of South African poet James Matthews, “the oppressor sits seared with his spoils/with no desire to share equality/leaving the oppressed seeking warmth/at the cold fire of/Dialogue”. Boycott has nothing to do with having, or not having, conversations – it is about accountability for, and opposing, basic violations of a people’s rights. Confronting and resisting the reality of Israeli apartheid begets a dialogue that is fully realised in the context of equality and decolonisation.
2. Impunity and accountability
The boycott is grounded firmly in the well documented facts of Israeli policies. The US State Department speaks of “institutional discrimination” faced by Palestinian citizens, while Human Rights Watch says Israel maintains a “two-tier system” in the West Bank. From the “discriminatory” control and distribution of water resources (Amnesty International) to the “forced transfer of the native population” (European Union), it is no wonder that the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination hasreported Israel as violating prohibitions against “racial segregation and apartheid”.
Illegal settlements are used to colonise the West Bank, Palestinians in Gaza are blockaded and bombed, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have their homes demolished – and all the while, of course, expelled Palestinian refugees just a few miles from their properties are still prevented from returning home on the basis they are not Jews. And note that the “But what about China/Myanmar/Syria etc” line misses the point (as well as placing Israel in some rather interesting company). A boycott is atactic, advisable in some contexts, and not in others. It is not about a scale of injustice or wrongdoing. It is about a strategy targeting systematic human rights abuses and breaches of international law, called for by the colonised. Which brings us to…
1. The Palestinian call for solidarity
Palestinians suffering under Israeli apartheid are calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a strategy in the realisation of their basic rights, a fact that many Zionists choose to ignore when attacking boycott campaigns. The Palestinian civil society call for BDS was officially launched on July 9 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel’s Separation Wall. Signatories to the BDS call come from representatives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Palestinian refugees. Since then, growing numbers of people in the likes of academia, the arts world, trade unions and faith communities have answered the BDS call with initiatives that put the focus firmly on Israel’s routine violations of international law and ending complicity in these crimes. Professor Hawking is to be commended for seeking the advice of Palestinian academics, and heeding their request for international solidarity in a decades-long struggle for freedom and justice.
Ben White is a freelance journalist, writer and activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel. He is a graduate of Cambridge University.
Oberlin, OH: In a historic moment on Sunday May 5th, Oberlin College Student Senate voted to divest from a set of 6 companies that profit from the occupation and oppression of Palestinians. Oberlin College Students for a Free Palestine (SFP) presented a resolution calling for divestment and a supporting petition. After a three-hour plenary, Student Senate voted by majority to support the resolution with several modifications.
“We are thrilled that this resolution has passed. We’re proud that our senate has decided to stand on the side of justice,” says Lucia Kalinosky, OC ‘13, a member of SFP.
This is a major milestone in SFP’s Oberlin Divest campaign, which follows the principles of the 2005 Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). Next semester, SFP will take their resolution to the Oberlin College Board of Trustees’ Finance Committee, which will determine if Oberlin adopts the financial policies outlined in the resolution.
Oberlin’s divestment campaign provides students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members with an opportunity to raise the cost of the Israeli government’s human rights violations in a non-violent initiative to effect change. It has been endorsed by Oberlin’s Responsible Investing Organization, Student Labor Action Coalition, Mexican American Students Association, La Alianza Latina, South Asian Students Association, Oberlin Queer Wellness Coalition, Edmonia Lewis Center for Women and Transgender People, and Multicultural Resource Center.
Oberlin SFP specifically calls for Oberlin College divestment from Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar, Veolia, Elbit Systems, G4S, and SodaStream. These six companies represent a wide range of injustices perpetrated on the Palestinian people by Israel. By endorsing the resolution, Oberlin College will join a growing global movement for justice in Israel/Palestine. This resolution comes on the heels of similar resolutions at UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and Brown University.
Four modifications were made to the resolution by the Senate. First, “Palestinian Territories” was defined as The West Bank, The Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Second, the Palestinian BDS Call was removed from the stated reasons for divesting. Third, a clause stating that the list would be updated to include other companies doing similar actions was removed, and senators asked SFP to write a detailed plan forming a committee to update the list, which will be voted on in the fall. Finally, senates added the word “directly” to the clauses giving criteria for divestment.
“The Palestinian people called on all people of conscience throughout the world to take action to advocate for justice,” says Hannah Elhard, OC ‘13. “By voting for divestment, Oberlin lives up to its progressive history and reputation.”
Students for a Free Palestine is a Palestine solidarity group at Oberlin College. It is a nonhierarchical organization of students with a variety of backgrounds and points of view. We all agree, however, that Israel must end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and that all sides must respect human rights. Students for a Free Palestine is the oldest student Palestine solidarity organization in the United States.
نقابـة العاملين في الخدمات البريدية /فلسطين
Palestinian Postal Service Workers Union
Member Of General Federation of Independent Trade Union Palestine
On the occasion of May Day (International Workers’ Day)
Sisters and brothers working in the postal service in the State of Palestine, As we celebrate May Day, our daily reality continues to be marked by steadfastness and resistance against the brutal Israeli occupation, which affects us even in our livelihoods and our capacity to feed our children.
In addition, we are facing a constant marginalization of our role in building our national institutions due to the policy of unilateral decision-making and the lack of confidence in partnership with trade unions. In these difficult circumstances experienced by our heroic Palestinian people, workers and employees, your union, the Postal Service Workers’ Union, which is at the forefront of trade union action, would like to emphasize the following:
1. More than ever, our union is determined to pursue its struggle to solve all the pending issues faced by workers in the postal and logistics sector, in the public and private sectors, in particular the urgent matter of the integration of all Palestinian Post (PALPOST) employees into the public service employment regime, the restoration of allowances that have been stopped for some employees and the implementation of the
minimum wage. We invite all workers to stay in contact with the union and its representatives all over the country, and get updates through the union’s social media page https://www.facebook.com/groups/ppswu/
2. The Postal Service Workers’ Union urges his Excellency, President Mahmoud Abbas, “Abu Mazen” to intervene immediately with the general postal administration at the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology in order to end the discrimination faced by 130 postal workers employed on temporary contracts for over a decade, and approve the necessary financial provisions to allow these workers to be integrated in the public service on an equal footing with other governmental workers.
3. We urge our sisters and brothers in all Palestinian trade unions and trade union federations to support our demands and stand in solidarity with us, in defense of the rights of more these 130 postal service employees, who have been working for over a decade for a salary of 1500 NIS without benefits or raises, while many of them hold BA degrees and support extended families.
4. The Palestinian Postal Service Workers’ Union calls upon all trade unions representing workers in postal services, telecommunications and logistics worldwide to boycott the postal services of the Israeli Occupying Power until the Israeli occupation army stops its attacks against Palestinian workers and until Israel recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to have direct postal exchanges with the rest of the world and returns the postal revenues it has illegally appropriated to the Palestinian treasury.
5. The Union would like to express its appreciation of the national and international efforts of the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology, and the General Administration of the Palestinian Post in order to raise the profile of the Palestinian Post as a national institution that symbolizes our sovereignty and
liberation, and that provides job opportunities for Palestinian youth. The Postal Service Workers’ Union urges everyone to back these efforts, and calls upon its brothers and sisters in postal service workers’ unions worldwide to support Palestinians in affirming their right to direct and free postal exchanges with the rest of the world, and this through dealing with the Palestinian Post (PALPOST) directly and boycotting the postal services of the Israeli Occupying Power.
We will pursue our struggle for our union demands and for partnership in national decision-making and in supporting our national cause, in order to secure further achievements that will place us at the forefront of national
Long live the Palestinian Postal Service Union!
Long live May Day!
Palestinian Postal Service Workers’ Union (PPSWU)
State of Palestine
Shareholders File Response to CREF’s Refusal to Allow Vote on Divestment From Companies Supporting Human Rights Abuses
Yesterday, lawyers for the We Divest Coalition filed two letters (see here and here) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in response to retirement fund giant TIAA-CREFF’s continued refusal to allow a shareholder vote on a proposal to divest from companies that support egregious human rights violations, including those supporting Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinians. The proposal calls for a shareholder vote in the proxy package that the company plans to mail to participants on June 10, 2013.
On April 22, 2013, CREF asked the SEC for a statement saying that the regulatory agency wouldn’t take legal action against it for refusing to allow a vote. The request followed several filings by both CREF and the concerned shareholders since the proposal was originally submitted.
“CREF’s arguments have no merit,” said Barbara Harvey, a member of the National Lawyers’ Guild International Committee, and an attorney submitting the response to the SEC on the We Divest Coalition’s behalf. “In essence, CREF is claiming that the Israeli occupation is not an important policy issue for shareholders to discuss, that it is too complex for them to understand, and that CREF need not handle this question because it has already divested from Darfur.”
“CREF is hiding behind the empty threats of the Israeli legal organization Shurat HaDin, which has a history of attempting to bully American universities into treating campus divestment initiatives as anti-Semitic and illegal,” said Daniel Strum, a member of the We Divest Coalition. “We will not be intimated by Shurat HadDin’s threats, and neither should the trustees of CREF.”
“This resolution is in the tradition of the U.S. civil rights movement and shareholder resolutions against South African apartheid,” added James Marc Leas, a member of the National Lawyers’ Guild International Committee, another attorney submitting the response to the SEC on the We Divest Coalition’s behalf. “Resolutions addressing such significant social policy issues have long been approved for a vote under SEC rules, and the First Amendment’s free speech clause protects such resolutions from claims that they are unlawful.”
“CREF should listen to the voices of its clients,” said Steve Tamari, one of over 200 shareholders who filed the proposal on February 8, 2013. “We have a right to have a say in how our money is spent, and we want CREF to live up to its motto of ‘Financial Services for the Greater Good.’”
We Divest is a national, coalition-led initiative by Adalah-NY, the American Friends ServiceCommittee, Grassroots International, Jewish Voice for Peace, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and the US Palestinian Community Network.
An event to be held at a St Andrews hotel, aimed at raising funds for the Friends of the IDF and the JNF, has been cancelled on police advice in the face of serious mobilisations for planned protests. Palestine activists, human rights campaigners and students joined forces to speak out against the inclusion of Friends of the IDF and the JNF in the list of organisations that will benefit from the fundraiser.
The Friends of the IDF fundraise for projects benefiting the Israeli Army and soldiers, an occupation force that brutalises, humiliates, kills and maims Palestinians, commits widespread human rights abuses to maintain the illegal occupation and settlements, and flouts international law. The cancellation is a further blow to supporters of such human rights abuses; in late 2012 Stevie Wonder pulled out of an FIDF fundraiser after realising the nature of the organisation.
The Jewish National Fund, experts in racist land administration, have long-faced the opposition of Palestine solidarity campaigners in Scotland. The JNF is responsible for dispossessing tens of thousands of Palestinians of their lands, for example building the “British Park” over the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages. Last week the Scottish TUC reinforced its commitment to opposing the activities of the JNF in enforcing an apartheid system in Israel and Palestine.
Earlier in the week a statement from Scottish Jews for a Just Peace stated:
“We are deeply saddened and concerned that St Andrews Jewish society has been persuaded to use its charity ball to raise money for the Jewish National Fund and Friends of the Israel Defence Forces. The JNF takes over Palestinian land – including homes of Palestinian refugees and land in the occupied territories – and will not lease or sell land to non-Jews. And FIDF gives solidarity to an army whose attacks on Palestinian civilians have become increasingly persistent, violent and brazen. We urge everyone of conscience, Jew and non-Jew, not to go to this event. St Andrews Jewish Society claims to be friendly, welcoming and non-political. We ask it to live up to that description.”
Dr Hajo G Meyer, a long-time friend of the Palestine solidarity movement in Scotland spent ten months in Auschwitz as a Jew and member of the Dutch Resistance, sent a message of support to the protest saying, “I strongly urge the Golf Hotel to cancel this atrocious event on Friday since it is a provocation to all who support human rights. If I could, I would be with you to join your protest in support of universal values of freedom and justice and freedom from racist occupation”.
The JNF, a pillar of Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing, has suffered yet another setback; let us make sure their next Scottish attempt to raise funds at a charity shoot on June 4th at Cowan’s Law is a similar debacle. Come to the Stop the JNF open organising meeting on Wednesday May 1st at 7.30pm at St John’s Church, Princes Street, Edinburgh. RSVP for details 07931 200 361, email@example.com.
“PASSPORT!” demanded the Israeli security guard in English as he approached demonstrators at the Latin American Aerospace and Defense (LAAD) fair, which took place April 9-12 at the RioCentro Convention Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
This surreal scene unfolded as a tiny group of activists entered the fair’s exhibition space, which contained a number of Israeli arms industry exporters. Armed with nothing but “Boycott Israeli apartheid” t-shirts and keffiyas, they first held a picket outside the entrance, during which a large Palestinian flag was held up along with signs that read, “Israeli arms embargo now!” and “President Dilma, stop buying Israeli weapons!” Dilma Vana Rousseff, the first female president of Brazil and a member of the Workers’ Party, is the successor to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
This first demand–to embargo Israeli arms–is the central aim of the Brazilian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign led by the Frente em Defesa do Povo Palestino-SP (Front in Defense of the Palestinian People–São Paulo), which is composed of dozens of Brazil’s civil society organizations.
The second–calling on President Dilma to halt the purchase of Israeli weaponry–is a condemnation of the rapid increase in military contracts between Israel and Brazil, which has solidified Brazil’s shameful standing as one of the five largest importers of arms from the apartheid regime. Both the São José dos Campos Steelworkers Union and the Brazilian labor federation, CSP-Conlutas, are endorsers of this demand.
These two organizations joined the demonstration in front of RioCentro, which also included representatives from Anel (National Free Students Assembly), Mopat (Palestinian Movement for All), Ciranda Internacional da Communicação Independente (Ciranda International for Independent/Shared Information) and PSTU (Unified Socialist Workers Party).
This year’s LAAD fair demonstrated the urgent need to end the military agreements linking Brazil and Israel. The more than 30 Israeli companies present at RioCentro were granted special privileges to dialogue at the event’s opening ceremony with Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer and Secretary of Defense Celso Amorim as official representatives of President Dilma Rousseff. Exhibitors’ sights were set on acquisition of security contracts for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, both of which are set to occur in Brazil.
Following the initial demand for passports, Israeli security guards surrounded the activists, serving as an alarming example of Israel’s ability to place itself above international law. The exercise of such impunity also offers a tiny glimpse of what life must be like for Palestinians living under occupation and apartheid.
In addition to demanding passports from Brazilian citizens exercising their rights on their own soil, the security agents then proceeded to follow the activists as they moved throughout the fair. There were dozens of Israeli personnel. The activists verbally protested this discriminatory act while simultaneously denouncing the occupation of Palestinian land.
For those who have been to Palestine, it was as though the Israeli guards had reproduced, inside of Brazil, their system of segregating and expelling the “unwanted.” The demand for passports seemed an attempt to recreate a West Bank checkpoint with which the Israeli security personnel were no doubt familiar. It was as though, with the blessing of the Brazilian state and federal governments, they had staged an occupation of the LAAD event area and were completely ignoring Brazilian citizens’ democratic right to free expression and assembly.
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DESPITE ATTEMPTS to embarrass and intimidate the “unwanted” visitors at the fair, the activists were still able to get a sense of the merchandise on display–such as the Israeli-made drones recently used during the Operation Pillar of Cloud attacks on Gaza last year. Israel’s Secretary of Defense even had his own booth. For some reason, activists were not permitted to enter it.
One particularly striking exhibit by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) featured a futuristic presentation of its technologies on a giant screen. IAI, according to reports from Palestinian organizations, produces equipment used by Israeli occupation forces in their policing of the apartheid wall and illegal Jewish-only settlements.
IAI’s Brazilian subsidiary, Bedek, together with the Brazilian conglomerate Grupo Synergy have formed a joint venture called EAE Soluções Aeroespacias (EAE Aerospace Solutions). This conglomerate produces materiel for the Brazilian Armed Forces that utilizes TAP M&E Brazil’s production and maintenance centers in Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre.
Another exhibitor was Rafael Defence, which boasts on its website of a “special” relationship with the Israel Defense Force (IDF). This firm–in collaboration with Netcom Malam Team International, Israel’s largest information technology group–has developed specially designed products for Israel’s occupying forces.
Israel Military Industries (IMI)–which counts Brazil’s army among its clients and enjoys a commercial partnership with Taurus, which is headquartered in Porto Alegre–was also an exhibitor. IMI manufactures the Israeli Tavor rifle.
The LAAD Fair was sponsored by Brazilian aviation manufacturer Embraer, a company closely linked to the Israeli arms industry. It maintains contracts with the Israeli company Elbit Systems, which was also a fair exhibitor. Elbit, a high-tech military firm, manufactures the aforementioned Israeli drones recently deployed in Gaza. Elbit is also one of 12 companies involved in the construction of the Israel’s apartheid wall.
In October 2012, UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights Richard Falk called for the boycotting of Elbit Systems during a UN General Assembly. Throughout the last 15 years, Elbit has maintained a presence in Brazil operates through its subsidiaries AEL, Periscope Optronic Equipment S/A and Ares Aerospace. Through Ares Aerospace, Elbit recently acquired two million-dollar contracts with the Brazilian army.
Furthermore, the government of Rio Grande do Sul–the state that is home to Porto Alegre–plans to expand Elbit’s presence in Brazil by means of privatization. If Brazil’s supporters of neoliberalism have their way, Brazil’s Porto Alegre could become Israel’s most important foreign military research outpost because it is home to AEL, which is a subsidiary of Elbit. This project, financed by public money, also provides benefits in the form of business transactions intrinsically linked to Israel’s crimes and violations of human rights.
The BDS Brazil campaign has sent a letter to federal and state governments in Brazil expressing its alarm at Israel’s presence at the LAAD Fair. Signed by more than 30 civil society organizations, the document highlights the importation of these military technologies by local governments to use in their repression of Brazil’s poor black youth.
The case of Rio de Janeiro is exemplary. The Israeli company, Global Shield, won a million-dollar contract to provide military police with eight new armored vehicles (known as caveirões in Portuguese) used in police occupations of the favelas (slums).
Translated from Portuguese by Ryan Green
Palestinian Prisoners Day was last week marked with actions in 11 countries protesting the complicity of British-Danish security company G4S in Israel’s prison system. The company provides equipment and services to prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners, including child prisoners, are illegally detained and subjected to torture. G4S also operates in Israeli checkpoints and illegal Israeli settlements. G4S has already lost contracts with universities, banks and charities across Europe as a result of its role in Israeli human rights violations.
Reporting on the groundswell of public anger about G4S profiting from Israeli violations of international law, the Financial Times published an article that underlines the extent to which the campaign against G4S is impacting on the company’s reputation among investors.
“The Israel/Palestine conflict has created reputational issues” for G4S, an investment analyst is quoting as warning. The article suggests that G4S may be considering selling its Israeli subsidiary altogether.
The international campaign against G4S is resulting in the company losing lucrative contracts and facing criticism from public figures, members of parliament from across Europe, trade unions and investment experts.
G4S told the Financial Times that it is responding to public pressure and repeated previous statements that it will “aim to exit the contracts which involve the servicing of security equipment at a small number of barrier checkpoints, a prison and a police station in the West Bank area“.
However, even if G4S implements the steps it announced in 2011, it will remain an accomplice to Israeli war crimes and human rights abuses in several ways:
- G4S is contracted to deliver equipment and services to prisons inside Israel to which Palestinians from occupied territory are transferred in violation of the Geneva Convention. Human rights organisations have documented that Palestinians, including child prisoners, are held in these prisons without trial or charge and subjected to torture.
- G4S provides security equipment, services and personnel to businesses inside illegal Israeli settlements. In a recent email to a UK client seen by campaigners, G4S confirmed that it also provides security services to homes in illegal Israeli settlements.
- G4S provides systems, equipment and services to the Israeli military, including the provision of “patrol units” for the guarding of military premises.
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition that leads Palestinian civil society’s BDS Campaign, welcomes the fact that popular mobilization is bringing pressure to bear on G4S.
The BNC reiterates its position that G4S has only stated that it will “aim” to exit a limited number of contracts and remains deeply complicit with Israel’s abhorrent prison system and other violations of international law.
G4S announced a new “ground breaking” human rights policy on Monday. This new policy will be prove meaningless if the company continues to participate in and profit from Israeli violations of international law that have been widely condemned by human rights organizations, the UN and other international bodies.
The BNC calls for the intensification of the campaign against G4S and looks forward to working with supporters of human rights all across the world to pressure the company until it ends all involvement in Israeli war crimes and abuses of Palestinian human rights.
On April 5th, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) joined the growing global movement to end Israeli apartheid by endorsing the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel (BDS). The SCSU represents about 10,000 undergraduate students. Faculty for Palestine (F4P) applauds this historic decision, and is proud to work in solidarity with student organizations across Canada to grow the campus BDS movement and to build campus divestment campaigns.
F4P also recognizes, honours and supports the organizing work that made this happen at UTSC particularly the work of Toronto Students for Justice in Palestine (TSJP) and the many allies who have sustained this struggle on and off-campus.
SCSUs endorsement is the latest in a wave of student union BDS endorsements that is sweeping campuses across Canada and globally in the past year. In addition to active campus divestment campaigns at Carleton University (since 2010), York University and University of Toronto (since 2011), the past year has seen eight undergraduate and graduate student unions and organizations endorse BDS.
Faculty 4 Palestine congratulates all of these campaigns and endorsements including:
· University of Regina Students Union (February 2012)
· Graduate Students Association at Carleton University (March 2012)
· York University Graduate Students Association (November 2012)
· University of Toronto Graduate Students Association (December 2012)
· Concordia University Graduate Students Association (January 2013)
· University of Toronto Mississauga Students Union (February 2013)
· Trent University Central Students Association (February 2013)
· York Federation of Students (March 2013)
· Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (April 2013)
As the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has noted,”2012 has been an exciting year for the growth of the cultural and academic boycott of Israel, a pillar of the global BDS movement”. This has included BDS activist victories from Oslo University in Norway, Wits University in South Africa, University of California in the US, National University of Students and BRICUP in the UK, and more.
As part of this global solidarity movement, the cross-campus divestment campaign in Canada was initiated after Israel’s 2008-2009 war crimes and massacre of over 1400 Palestinians in Gaza, and in response to the renewed call in 2009 for campus divestment and academic boycott by the Gaza students in the Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israeli (PSCABI). Faculty and students around the world have also played a key role in building the academic boycott. In solidarity with faculty activists, student organizers advanced the historic decision made by the Senate of the University of Johannesburg (UJS) to sever their formal relationship with the Ben-Gurion University in Israel (September, 2010) in support of BDS.
Faculty 4 Palestine honours the years of struggle that prepared the ground for these BDS victories by activists in groups like Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Students for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).
As 3,000 Palestinian political prisoners refused meals and demonstrations were held across Palestine to mark Palestinian prisoners day on Wednesday, international activists held solidarity protests and events in cities across the world.
In at least 11 countries, actions and events focused on G4S, the British-Danish security company that is contracted to provide and maintain security equipment at Israeli prisons including control and monitoring systems, cameras and control rooms in which Palestinians are illegally detained and subjected to torture.
In February, Arafat Jaradat died after being detained in Israel’s Meggido prison and reportedly being subjected to torture in the al-Jalameh interrogation facility. G4S provides and maintains equipment to both facilities.
At the Scottish Trades Union Congress, delegates held a show of support for Palestinian prisoners and voted to campaign to pressure G4S to abandon its role in facilitating Israel’s detention of prisoners and child prisoners.Action around the world
In Morocco, a coalition of 14 human rights and law organizations held a press conference in Rabat to launch a Moroccan campaign against the company. Sion Asidon, from BDS Maroc, explained that the campaign will raise awareness about the need to boycott G4S among a broad public including organizations, official agencies and G4S’ clients.
Human rights and campaigning organizations from across Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine marked the day by issuing a statement calling for the exclusion of G4S from public and private contracts and on the European Union to stop contracting G4S to provide security at its diplomatic missions in the Arab world.
Prisoner rights campaign group Addameer launched a new campaign against administrative detention (Israel’s use of detention without trial on the basis of secret evidence). As part of the campaign, Addameer is calling for action against G4S and produced a fact sheet detailing the company’s complicity with human rights abuses of prisoners in 10 langauges.
More than 75 persons demonstrated outside G4S’ central London offices and there were actions outside G4S premises and in town centers across 10 other UK cities.
Film directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, playwright Caryl Churchill and actor Miriam Margolyes were among the signatories to a letter to public broadcaster the BBC urging it to “recognize there is a public interest in excluding G4S from the tendering process.” The letter also drew attention to G4S’ record of human rights abuses in the UK migrant detention system. Labor Party MP Sandra Osbourne called on the government to withhold public contracts from G4S in a letter to the Guardian newspaper.
In the Netherlands, students and activists held a stunt and public meeting at the University of Delft, where G4S provides campus security, and a public meeting in the Hague.
Demonstrations took place in several Norwegian cities and campaigners there have published an interactive map detailing the company’s involvement in Israeli prisons, checkpoints, apartheid wall and illegal settlements.
An appeal launched by Palestinian human rights organizations on prisoner’s day last year for action to hold G4S accountable for its role in Israel’s prison system has been taken up by solidarity organizations, trade unions and nongovernmental organizations across the world. Even more significantly, G4S has started to lose business and suffer damage to its reputation over its complicity.
In Norway, where the campaign against G4S is supported by 22 civil society organizations including several trade unions and mainstream nongovernmental organizations including Norwegian People’s Aid and Amnesty International Norway, the University of Oslo announced that it will terminate its contract with G4S after a campaign by students and academics.
Charities in the Netherlands have cut their ties to G4S in protest at its human rights abuses,
In Denmark, a broad coalition has mobilized hundreds of people to take part in actions targeting G4S. Amnesty International Denmark, Danish Church Aid and the Rehabilitation and Research Center for Torture Victims have all ended contracts with G4S.
Dundee University Student Association in Scotland recently voted to terminate the contract it directly holds with G4S, following on from a similar vote by students at Edinburgh University in 2011 to pressure the university to cut its ties to the company. The students’ union at Queen Mary University in London has initiated a campaign to persuade the university to terminate its contract with G4S.
Municipal and bank workers and trade unions in the Rio Grande do Sol region of Brazil are organizing a campaign against G4S, which provides equipment to many local buildings and businesses.
G4S has already shown itself vulnerable to pressure, attempting to placate its critics bysaying it will pull out of some of its projects in illegal Israeli settlements. However, G4S has refused even to acknowledge increasing public anger with its role in prisons inside Israel at which many of Israel’s gravest human rights violations are committed and looks set to continue help Israel run its prisons.
Continued pressure and further lost contracts may well push the company to end more aspects of its complicity with Israeli apartheid.
G4S chief executive Nick Buckles was recently awarded a pay rise and will earn up to £4.5 million ($6.9 million) next year. He and the other highly paid G4S executives should be reminded that those outrageous pay packets are funded by signing lucrative contracts with oppressive regimes such as Israel and as a direct result of grave human rights violations.
Let’s make sure Buckles is confronted of the realities of Israel’s prison system, such as the story of Emad al-Ashhab, a Palestinian held in a prison serviced by G4S:
At the age of 17, Emad was arrested and detained for nearly a year on four successive administrative detention orders. On the day of his arrest, Israeli soldiers covered his face with a woolen bag, shackled his hands and feet, and beat him all over his body with a stick. They also burnt his hand with cigarettes. In a survey of 50 cases of children prisoners conducted by Defense for Children International in 2000-2001, 100 percent of the children interviewed were subject to torture and 95 percent were beaten by soldiers during arrest. Emad was held at Ofer Prison, serviced by G4S
Update: The UC Berkeley student president has announced that he will not veto the motion.
The student senate at the University of California at Berkeley voted early Thursday morning in favor of a bill calling on the UC administration to divest from companies which profit from Israel’s occupation.
In a meeting that lasted nearly ten hours, the Daily Californian reports that:
Anna Head Alumnae Hall overflowed with hundreds of UC Berkeley students, faculty and community members engaging in a contentious debate regarding the bill, SB 160.
SB 160, authored by Student Action Senator George Kadifa, calls the UC system a “complicit third party” in Israel’s “illegal occupation and ensuing human rights abuses” and seeks the divestment of more than $14 million in ASUC and UC assets from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Cement Roadstone Holdings. According to the bill, these companies provide equipment, materials and technology to the Israeli military, including bulldozers and biometric identification systems.
The final vote, which occurred just before 5:30 a.m., was met with cheering, stomping and cries of joy by supporters of the bill.
Independent Senator and bill co-sponsor Sadia Saifuddin said she saw the vote as the culmination of years of struggle.
“Tonight is not about corporations,” she said. “It’s about asking ourselves before we go to sleep whether our money is going toward the destruction of homes, toward the erection of a wall. I am a working student. And I don’t want one cent of my money to go toward fueling the occupation of my brothers and sisters.”Support from Angela Davis, Alice Walker, student groups
Earlier on Wednesday evening, I attended a talk given by author, educator and iconic civil rights activist Angela Davis in an event sponsored by the Middle East Children’s Alliance. Davis spoke passionately about Palestinian prisoners — it was Palestinian Prisoners’ Day — and the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. At the end of the evening, she asked the packed audience of hundreds if we could support a resolution she quickly drafted to support the UC Berkeley divestment bill. Davis’ resolution passed unanimously as the crowd erupted into cheers.
After the Angela Davis event concluded, some audience members walked over to the nearby UC Berkeley campus to the hall where the divestment resolution was being voted on. The Daily Californian reported that Pulitzer prize-winning author and activist Alice Walker was amongst the hundreds of supporters in the campus hall.
In the lead-up to the divestment vote, several pro-BDS op-eds were featured in the Daily Californian, including one by UC Berkeley junior Waj Bhatti comparing Israel’s discrimination policies to the Jim Crow laws in the US south; and a strong statement by the on-campus Organization of African Students explaining why they unanimously supported the divestment bill.
UC Berkeley’s divestment initiative came exactly three years after UC Berkeley’s student senate voted in favor of a similar resolution, but the bill was vetoed by then-student senate president Will Smelko a week later. Before the senate met again to vote to override the veto, it was revealed that Zionists on campus, aided by Israel lobby groups, had pressured and intimidated senators to reverse their original votes — and the veto stood.
Three years later, as the tide around the country and around the world continues to swell in favor of divestment, UC Berkeley has taken a stand for justice, equality and human rights.
Tweets were sent from all over congratulating UC Berkeley on its divestment bill.
On Palestinian Prisoners Day
Boycott G4S due to its complicity in Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people and its prisoners
Statement issued on 16 April 2013 (original in Arabic)
We, civic and human rights organizations of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine, in mobilization for Palestinian Prisoners’ Day this year, call for the boycott of the G4S company in the Arab World because of its involvement in Israeli occupation and oppression.
G4S is a multinational company providing private security services. Among its services, G4S, through its Israeli subsidiary, Hashmira, provides equipment for Israeli occupation checkpoints and for settlements in the West Bank. G4S provided equipment for Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, including defense and command and control equipment. G4S equally provided the Gilmeh interrogation centre with security systems. And they have provided equipment and services for the West Bank Israeli Police headquarters and Israeli interrogation centers, known for their practice of torture and ill-treatment of detainees.
Considering that G4S did not comply with Palestinian demands to cease its involvement in Israeli crimes and human rights violations and in Israel’s Apartheid regime,
Believing that human rights are obligatory for both governments and businesses, namely multinational corporations,
And seeking to end the injustice that the Palestinian people and its prisoners are facing;
We, the civic and human rights organizations of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine, demand the following:
- The boycott by companies and by individuals of G4S and the cessation of existing business with it
- The exclusion of G4S from State public and private tenders;
- The Regional Arab Boycott Bureaus to reach consensus on prohibiting the work of G4S in the Arab world, in light of the postponement of this decision in their last meeting;
- The European Union to abandon G4S in the management of its facilities, namely in its diplomatic missions in the Arab World. We remind the European Union that the European Parliament decided not renewed its contract for security services with G4S due to its work and complicity with Israeli prisons and its work in the settlements.
Time is long overdue to break this chain of international business complicity in Israeli violation of international law, such as that of G4S.
Signatory organizations (up until April 15, 2013)
Egypt The Egyptian Center for Economic & Social Rights
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Hisham Mubarak Law Center
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
Misryon Against Religious Discrimination
Egyptian Foundation for Advancement of Childhood Conditions
Association for Freedom for Thought and Expression
Arab NGO Network for Development
Palestinian NGO forum working among the Palestinian community in Lebanon
Saida NGO Platform
Center for Refugee Rights (Aidoun)
Campaign for the Boycott of Supporters of “Israel” in Lebanon
Daem for Consulting and Training (Tamkeen)
Palestine Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network
Addameer – Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
Women Media and Development (TAM)