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Israeli arms manufacturers look to cash in on the war in Gaza #BDS #Palestine6 days 3 hours ago
US student workers’ union becomes first US labor union to back BDS #BDS #Palestine6 days 3 hours ago
Boycott RE/MAX protests flood the US during Week of Action #BDS6 days 16 hours ago
Can you help the #BDS movement reach new heights in 2015? #BDS6 days 17 hours ago
Big win for student activists at Concordia university #BDS days 19 hours ago
Israeli arms manufacturers look to cash in on the war in Gaza #BDS #StopArmingIsrael #StopElbit6 days 21 hours ago
Sheffield PSC : December boycott action - week 15 hours ago
#BDS is having a bigger impact than ever, but there's so much more we need to do week 2 days ago
UN conference calls for local councils to adopt #BDS measures week 2 days ago
Diana Buttu in NYT: There are no centrists in Israel #BDS1 week 2 days ago

BDS movement

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The Palestinian BDS National Committee website
Updated: 2 hours 17 min ago

Israeli arms manufacturers look to cash in on the war in Gaza

Thu, 11/12/2014 - 11:34am

Three weeks after Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip concluded, Israeli military and political leaders attended a conference next to Ben Gurion Airport to sell the successes of what Israel dubbed Operation Protective Edge, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians including 521 children. The annual conference, named “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014,” took place in business-as-usual atmosphere — even with a complimentary beer keg. But the fare was anything but humdrum. Among the offerings were suicide drones, “loitering munitions” that need to explode; a 16-year-old showing off high-tech robots designed by fellow high schoolers and future drone makers; and “premature” weapons, armaments that have not been fully tested before they are used on a live Palestinian population. Such is Israel the military power.

The conference showcased the latest drone technology and previewed the industry’s prospects to a few hundred international buyers, vendors, and military figures. Inside a private conference room, political and industry leaders gave presentations — speaking in military euphemisms that avoided any uncomfortable references to the humanitarian catastrophe resulting from the 51-day bombing campaign.

Elad Aharonson, General Manager of the Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems’ Unmanned Systems Division, praised the “relative advantage” Israel enjoys due to the “intimate ties” between the “developers and users” of the military industry. “In some cases, we must admit these are the same people and that is a great advantage,” Aharonson said.

Suicide Drones

Lieutenant Colonel Itzhar Jona, who heads Israel Aerospace Industries, spoke about “loitering munitions” — what he called a “politically correct” name for Suicide Drones. They are a hybrid of drone and missile technology that have “autonomous and partially autonomous” elements, and are “launched like a missile, fly like an UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle],” and once they identify a target, revert to “attack like a missile.” Jona called the Suicide Drone a “UAV that thinks and decides for itself,” then added, “If you [the operator] aren’t totally clear on the logic, it can even surprise you.”

Jona praised the advantage of the Suicide Drone because the operator “doesn’t have to bring it home or deal with all sorts of dilemmas.” The Suicide Drone will quickly find a target using its internal logic, which Jona explained in this way: “It carries a warhead that eventually needs to explode. There needs to be a target at the end that will want to explode. Or it won’t want to and we will help it explode.”

Still Undergoing Test Flights

Within 48 hours of the first airstrikes of Operation Protective Edge last July, the military began operating the Hermes 900, nicknamed the “star” of Israel’s arsenal of drones. Made by the Israeli weapons giant Elbit Systems, the drone was “still undergoing test flights” when it was first deployed. The assault presented an opportunity to expedite the testing process by launching strikes on Gaza’s captive population — which allows Israel weapons makers to market their products as “combat proven.” This places the Israeli brand squarely at the top of the arms industry.

This phenomenon is nothing new. Colonel Erez Karabiti, who heads the Israeli Air Force’s UAV division, admitted implementation of premature weapons systems has been the norm for at least 15 years — what he referred to as the “pre-standard era.” Though he praised the benefits of Israel’s use of premature weapons because it “brings results”, he suggested that in the future, the Israeli arms industry should adhere to testing standards in order to ensure reliability, effectiveness and, “obviously to sell” the weapons.

Another aspect of Operation Protective Edge was the widespread use of Sky Rider mini-drones by ground forces — part of a program that Israeli troops pushed for and was first implemented in the Second Lebanon War in 2006. “Every brigade — even the reserves — got at least two air vehicles and flew them nonstop; at the same time,” the Israeli military’s chief artillery officer, Brigadier General Roy Riftin told a reporter.


Rami Shmuely, CEO of RT Technologies, which makes Aerostat surveillance balloons, informed me that in addition to 13 systems flying around the Gaza Strip, the company has a subsidiary at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Additionally, the US army purchased surveillance systems from RT for use in Afghanistan. Shmuely explained that the United States is “the most promising market in the world.”

Drew Marks, from ESC BAZ, which makes unmanned surveillance systems, said that the Israeli company sells to governments and militaries in Europe, Asia and Africa. He continued, “We sell to other markets — friends in Asia. I can’t tell you where exactly but I can tell you Asian countries — southeast Asian countries. People can maybe understand where it is.”

Marks boasted that a video that showed Palestinian fighters emerging from the sea to attack an Israeli military base, which was recently revealed to be only partial, “was taken by this system right here.” He added, “We call it battlefield-proven!”

Drone Youth

In front of the trade show was a team of Israeli high school students who were being groomed as part of the next generation of drone engineers and electricians. They operated remote-controlled robots designed to launch large yoga balls into a basket at a given height and distance. Their team was called FIRST Israel, part of an international competition that has been featured on National Geographic’s television channel.

There I met Omer Golan-Kaplan, 16, who told me, “I’m sure at least half of the people who participate in the project will go to make electronic devices [in the military].” As for herself, Golan-Kaplan was torn between spending her military service in a unit working with electronics, or being “a tank teacher or a shooting teacher.” “I really want to get to know the cool stuff.” She added, “I’m still young to know what I want to do with my life.”

Nothing illustrated the complete militarization of the Israeli society so much as the interaction with Crosslab Networks (XLN). XLN is a project of the Reut Institute, an Israeli national security and socioeconomic policy think tank that has called on the Israeli government to “sabotage” and “attack” that global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement or what it described as an international Delegitimization Network. Under the leadership of former Reut Institute CEO Roy Keidar, XLN creates centers for 3D printing and other advanced technologies which are becoming an integral part of Israel’s ability to quickly design and build weapons. Keidar admitted that children as young as 14 were instrumental in building a mini-copter that could navigate the network of tunnels that Palestinian resistance groups had constructed.

“You wouldn’t believe who is leading who. I’ve got 14-year-olds working on sensors and writing codes so fast,” Keidar said. “That’s the future!”

Footage shot by Dan Cohen and Lia Tarachansky with thanks to Ronnie Barkan for translation.

US student workers’ union becomes first US labor union to back BDS

Thu, 11/12/2014 - 11:21am
Divestment campaigns on University of California campuses continue to grow. (Photo courtesy of Cal SJP Facebook page)

Student workers at the University of California have voted by a landslide to support the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

The votes, which were cast on 4 December by members of UAW Local 2865resultedin 65 percent, or 1,411 members voting in support of a BDS resolution against 35 percent, or 749 members, voting against.

UAW Local 2865 has thus become the first labor union in the US to join the BDS movement.

The union represents 13,000 student workers in the University of California system. It joins a growing number of student governments, academic associations and activist organizations in the US which have pledged to hold Israel accountable for violations of human rights and to end the complicity by corporations and universities which profit from such violations.

The ballots asked union members to cast their vote to call on the University of California and UAW International to divest their holdings from Israeli state institutions and international companies “complicit in severe and ongoing human rights violations as part of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.”

UAW International is the central body of the United Auto Workers union, to which UAW Local 2865 is affiliated.

Members were also able to tick a box saying that they would personally refuse to take part in any “research, conferences, events, exchange programs, or other activities that are sponsored” by Israeli institutions, a voluntary personal pledge.

Fifty-two percent of the voting members signed on to the personal academic boycottpledge, UAW Local 2865 states.

Tireless organizing

Student activists, faculty and workers in the University of California system organized tirelessly to educate their campus communities about the growing BDS movement and the important campaigns in solidarity with their Palestinian counterparts under Israeli occupation.

In the past two years, two-thirds of all University of California student governmentshave passed resolutions calling on the administration to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s violations of human rights.

In an open letter published a few weeks before the 4 December vote, 121 members of faculty around the world encouraged UAW Local 2865 to take a stand in solidarity with Palestinians.

“[F]aculty across the country have taken a position on the right side of history by supporting Palestinian self-determination and supporting BDS as a vehicle to challenge Israel’s violations of human rights,” the scholars wrote.

“Similar racism in apartheid South Africa led to students and professors in the US engaging in boycott and divestment; increasingly, they are doing the same to challenge bigoted Israeli policies and laws that are upheld by unconditional US support.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this post indicated that 112 members of faculty signed a letter to UAW Local 2865. That number has been updated.

Donate to our first ever fundraising appeal

Wed, 10/12/2014 - 6:59pm

Español – Français – بالعربي

The Palestinian BDS National Committee, the Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the global BDS movement, is making its first ever fundraising appeal.

We are looking ahead to ambitious new horizons.

With your support, we plan to develop even harder hitting campaigns, redevelop into a multi-language resource for the movement and publish a range of research and campaign materials to help make BDS campaigning even more effective.

Please support BDS today by making a donation that will help us to make 2015 the year that the boycott movement reaches new heights. It will be a real contribution to the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Donate now:


Apoya al movimiento BDS a alcanzar nuevas metas

Este verano Israel realizó su masacre más sangrienta en la historia de la ocupación sobre los palestinos y palestinas de la Franja de Gaza. Más de 2.190 palestinos fueron asesinados por Israel con ataques deliberadamente dirigidos contra ellos y la infraestructura civil de la Franja.

Sin embargo, 2014 también ha sido el año en el que se han visto niveles sin precedentes de solidaridad con la lucha palestina. Cientos de miles de personas salieron a las calles para protestar por el ataque de Israel contra Gaza, por primera vez, con un mensaje común: El boicot a Israel. Así, la campaña de Boicot, Desinversiónes y Sanciones (BDS) ha ganado en poco tiempo un apoyo masivo de personas y organizaciones de todo el mundo.

Gracias a la dedicación de cientos de miles de activistas, y al trabajo creativo de miles de personas por todo el mundo, el movimiento BDS está empezando a tener un impacto real.

Cientos de compañías exportadoras israelíes se quejan cada vez de que es más difícil exportar sus productos a causa del crecimiento global de la campaña.

Las grandes empresas están empezando a darse cuenta de que estar asociado con el apartheid israelí les perjudica a la hora de hacer negocios. También los grandes fondos de pensiones comienzan a deshacerse de los criminales corporativos que son cómplices y/o participan activamente en la ocupación y en los crímenes que comete el Estado de Israel.

La “Marca Israel” es cada vez más tóxica. Los líderes israelíes están preocupados porque Israel se está convirtiendo rápidamente en un estado paria.

Sin embargo, todavía nos queda mucho por hacer.

El Comité Nacional Palestino del BDS (BNC), la coalición de la sociedad civil palestina que lidera el movimiento global de BDS, ha lanzado una campaña de de recaudación de fondos que llama a la solidaridad global con palestina. Una solidaridad consciente de que el cumplimiento de los Derechos Humanos es una condición indispensable para el fin de la ocupación y la consecución de una futura paz justa para todas y todos.

Buscamos nuevos horizontes en los que la solidaridad no tenga fronteras.

Con tu apoyo, tenemos la intención de desarrollar campañas más eficaces y con mayor impacto, rediseñar la web para convertirla en la plataforma global del movimiento. Un recurso multi-idioma donde publicaremos materiales de investigación y de campaña que ayudarán a hacer más y mejores acciones de BDS por todo el mundo.

Por favor, apoya la campaña BDS ahora haciendo una donación. Con tu ayuda podremos alcanzar nuevas metas y convertir el 2015 el año en el que el movimiento de boicot se convierta en la más eficaz herramienta de solidaridad con Palestina. Será una verdadera contribución a la lucha palestina por la libertad, la justicia y la igualdad.

$ 25 – Con 25 euros contribuyes a la edición de carteles, pegatinas y otros recursos para ayudar a expandir el BDS a un público más amplio. Si aportas 25€ o más, recibirás un mensaje de agradecimiento descargable que ofrece las ilustraciones de la animación.

$ 100 – Con 100 euros contribuyes a la creación de una plataforma web de inspiración global. Un portal multi-idioma para el movimiento BDS. Si aportas 100€ o más, recibirás una camiseta de edición especial con las ilustraciones de la animación.

$ 250 – Con 250 euros contribuyes a financiar una investigación sobre los criminales corporativos que apoyan el apartheid israelí. Si aportas 250€ o más, recibirás una antigua reliquia de Noticias de Palestina, obra de arte del estudio Desarmado Diseño.


Cet été, dans la bande de Gaza, Israël a lancé son plus sanglant massacre de Palestiniens. Plus de 2190 Palestiniens ont été tués et Israël a visé délibérément les civils et les infrastructures civiles.

Mais 2014 a aussi vu un niveau sans précédent de solidarité avec la lutte palestinienne. Des centaines de milliers de gens ont descendu dans la rue pour protester contre l’attaque d’Israël sur Gaza, et le mouvement Boycott, Désinvestissement, Sanctions (BDS) acquiert un soutien massif des personnes et des organisations dans le monde.

Grâce aux campagnes dévouées et créatives des militant-e-s du monde, entier, le mouvement BDS commence à avoir un réel impact.

Les exportateurs israéliens se plaignent d’avoir plus de mal à exporter leurs produits à cause de la montée du boycott.

Les grandes sociétés commencent à réaliser qu’être associées à l’apartheid israélien, c’est mauvais pour les affaires, et de grands fonds de pension désinvestissent des entreprises criminelles qui participent aux crimes israéliens.

‘La marque Israël’ est de plus en plus toxique. Les dirigeants israéliens s’inquiètent qu’Israël devienne rapidement un Etat paria.

Mais nous avons tant à faire en plus !

Le Comité national du BDS palestinien, coalition de la société civile palestinienne qui dirige le mouvement BDS mondial, lance son premier appel de collecte de fonds.

Nous envisageons de nouveaux horizons ambitieux.

Avec votre soutien, nous prévoyons de développer des campagnes encore plus percutantes, de réaménager le site en une ressource multilingue pour le mouvement et de publier toute une gamme de matériels de recherche et de campagne pour une meilleure efficacité de la campagne BDS.

S’il vous plait, soutenez BDS dès ce jour en faisant un don qui nous aidera à faire de 2015 l’année de nouveaux sommets du mouvement de boycott. Ce sera une réelle contribution à la lutte palestinienne pour la liberté, la justice et l’égalité.

Pour faire un don :

Bouton « Don »

25$ – Pourrait payer des posters, des stickers et d’autres matériels pour nous aider à communiquer sur BDS à un public plus nombreux. Donnez 25$ ou plus et recevez un message de remerciements téléchargeable représentant une œuvre d’art de l’animation ci-dessus.

100$ – Pourrait financer la transformation de en un portail multilingue pour le mouvement BDS. Donnez 100$ ou plus et recevez un T-shirt exclusif représentant une œuvre d’art de l’animation ci-dessus.

250$ – Pourrait financer des recherches de pointe sur la criminalité des entreprises qui soutiennent l’apartheid israélien. Donnez 250$ ou plus et recevez un exemplaire du bol artistique « Old News from Palestine » du projet Disarming Design.
Traduction: JPB pour BDS France.

ساعدوا حركة مقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات منها وفرض العقوبات عليها (BDS) في تحقيق نجاحات جديدة!

ارتكبت إسرائيل خلال الصيف الأخير أكثر مجازرها دموية ضد الفلسطينيين في قطاع غزة. إذ استشهد أكثر من 2,190 بسبب الاستهداف الإسرائيلي المتعمد للمدنيين، ناهيك عن التدمير الممنهج للبنى التحتية.

ومن جانب آخر، شهد العام 2014 مستويات غير مسبوقة في التضامن مع النضال الفلسطيني. فقد خرج مئات الآلاف إلى الشوارع للتظاهر ضد العدوان الإسرائيلي على غزة، ما جعل حركة مقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات منها وفرض العقوبات عليها (BDS) تكتسب دعمًا كبيرًا من الشعوب والمنظمات حول العالم.

بدأت حركة مقاطعة إسرائيل تشكل تأثيرًا حقيقيًا بفضل الجهود الابداعية للنشطاء المتفانين في تنظيم حملات المقاطعة في جميع أنحاء العالم، حيث تزايدت شكاوى شركات التصدير الإسرائيلية من صعوبة تصدير منتجاتها إلى العالم بسبب تنامي المقاطعة (BDS). وباتت الشركات الكبرى تدرك وبشكل واضح ثمن تواطؤها مع نظام الاحتلال والاستعمار والفصل العنصري (الأبارتهايد) الإسرائيلي. وقد سحبت صناديق تقاعد عملاقة استثماراتها من الشركات المتواطئة في الجرائم الإسرائيلية ضد شعبنا.

ويوماً بعد يوم تزداد حملة “وسم إسرائيل” (Brand Israel)، التي تحاول تجميل وجه الاحتلال البشع عالمياً من خلال البروباغاندا، حقدًا، بالتوازي مع قلق القادة الإسرائيليين من أن تصبح إسرائيل دولة منبوذة ومعزولة، كما كانت جنوب أفريقيا خلال حقبة الأبارتهايد.

ولكن المجزرة الإسرائيلية في غزة تؤكد أننا مازلنا بحاجة لفعل الكثير لإنهاء حصانة إسرائيل ووقف جرائمها.

تطلق اللجنة الوطنية الفلسطينية للمقاطعة، وهي أوسع تحالف في المجتمع المدني الفلسطيني الذي يقود حركة المقاطعة العالمية BDS، نداءها الأول لجمع التبرعات، نطمح إلى آفاق واعدة جديدة.

بدعمكم نخطط لتنظيم حملات أعمق تأثيرًا، ولتطوير موقعنا الإلكتروني ( ليصبح مرجعاً أغنى وبلغات متعددة لحركة المقاطعة ولنشر سلسلة من الأبحاث والمواد لتزداد حركة المقاطعة فعالية أكثر من ذي قبل.

نحثكم على دعم حركة مقاطعة إسرائيل من خلال التبرع اليوم، فدعمكم سيمكننا من جعل عام 2015 عامًا تحقق فيه حركة المقاطعة نجاحات وإنجازات جديدة. سيسهم هذا التبرع مساهمة حقيقية في النضال الفلسطيني من أجل الحرية، والعدالة، والمساواة.

شاهد الفيديو

يمكنكم التبرع لمرة واحدة أو بشكل شهري.

25$: ستسهم في تغطية تكاليف المواد المطبوعة (ملصقات، بوسترات..إلخ) لتسهيل وصول حركة المقاطعة إلى جمهور أوسع. تبرع/ي بـ 25$ أو أكثر واستلم/ي رسالة شكر تحوي رسماً فنيًا من الفيديو أعلاه.

100$: ستسهم في إعادة تطوير موقعنا الإلكتروني كمرجع بلغات مختلفة لحركة المقاطعة. تبرع/ي الآن بـ 100$ أو أكثر لتحصل/ي على قميص (تي) خاص مطبوع عليه عمل فني من الفيديو أعلاه.

250$: ستسهم في إعداد أبحاث متطورة حول الشركات الداعمة للاحتلال والأبارتهايد الإسرائيلي. تبرع/ي بـ 250$ أو أكثر واحصل/ي على إناء فني “أخبار قديمة من فلسطين” من (Disarming Design Project).

ويمكنك التبرع بمبلغ آخر …
للتبرع دوريًا بشكل شهري بقيمة ( 5$ أو 25$ أو 100$ )

With or without new “nation-state” law, Israel is a settler-colonial apartheid state

Wed, 10/12/2014 - 4:09pm

A Palestinian BDS National Committee statement on the occasion of the UN Human Rights Day

Occupied Palestine, 10 December 2014 — Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and United Nations Resolution 194 on December 10 and 11 of 1948, the UN has affirmed the human rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of the refugees to return to their homes and properties and the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, on numerous occasions. Yet the UN has failed to address the serious and persistent Israeli violations of international law that prevent the exercise of these rights by Palestinians or to hold Israel to account for these infringements.

Sixty six years on, and on the occasion of the 2014 UN Human Rights Day, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee (BNC), representing all sectors of Palestinian civil society, reiterates its call on the United Nations and member states to acknowledge finally what is plain for everyone to see: Israel is neither a democratic state based on the rule of law, nor a temporary occupying power as defined in international humanitarian law. Israel is a criminal regime of settler colonialism and apartheid that systematically oppresses and displaces Palestinians with the aim of achieving permanent control of an exclusive “Jewish state” in most of the country, including most of the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

The elements of Israeli apartheid

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines apartheid as inhumane acts “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

Article 1 of the International Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination defines “racial discrimination” as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

Institutionalized racial discrimination

Israel’s racial oppression of and domination over Palestinians is institutionalized in its domestic law, even without the new racist “Jewish nation-state” bill which was approved by the Israeli cabinet in November 2014. Irrespective of whether this bill will eventually be adopted by parliament, existing Israeli law already:

· Defines Israel as the “state of the Jewish people” and prevents candidacy for parliamentary elections of political parties that challenge this principle (Basic Law: the Knesset (1985), Amendment 9 of 1985).

· Claims sovereignty of the “state of the Jewish people” in the entire country, including the OPT (Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance, No. 29 of 5708-1948). Another law authorizes the government to incorporate newly seized areas into the state (Law and Administration Ordinance of 27June 1967, Section 11 B). On this basis, Israel treats the OPT as its own territory, exploiting its natural resources, expanding illegal Jewish colonial settlements and annexing East Jerusalem. Official Israeli maps show the entire area of British Mandate Palestine as Israel, with no reference to the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel’s domestic law, thus, contradicts the concept and rules of occupation under international humanitarian law.

· Reserves “national rights” and democracy only for Jews. Under Israeli law, there is no Israeli nationality, only “Jewish nationality” that is distinguished from citizenship.[1] The superior status and rights of nationals are reserved for persons classified as “Jewish” in Israel’s Law of Return (1950), including new immigrants and settlers in the OPT. The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected attempts by citizens to be classified as “Israeli” in the national population registry, arguing that doing so would pose a threat to Israel’s founding identity as a Jewish state for the Jewish people.

· The right to equality is omitted in Israel’s Basic Laws, which have constitutional power. Israel’s so-called bill of human rights (Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty of 1992) requires conformity with Israel’s values as a “Jewish and democratic state” and permits racial discrimination on this basis. UN human rights bodies have repeatedly called on Israel to repeal or reform this law in accordance with international standards, and even the U.S. Department of State has regularly criticized Israel for its system of “institutional, legal and societal discrimination.”

Absent a firmly established right to equality that could trump the above in court, Israel’s legal system contains a myriad of additional discriminatory laws that undermine fundamental human rights of Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel. Most importantly, Israeli domestic law, as well as military orders modelled on Israeli domestic law, do not recognize the existence of the Palestinian people, their indigenous status and land rights, or their status as citizens under the law of the British Mandate.

For example:

· Israel’s Citizenship Law (1952) excludes the (descendants of) Palestinian refugees from all entitlement to civil status, making them stateless and permanently preventing their return. The same law makes Palestinians who came under Israeli rule after the 1948 Nakba and their descendants into “Israeli citizens”, i.e., a status of individuals without a national identity, indigenous or collective rights.

· The Entry into Israel Law (1952) and the Entry into Israel Regulations (1974), which are applied in occupied East Jerusalem in the context of the illegal annexation, transform Palestinians there into “permanent residents”, i.e., a status of quasi-foreigners that does not even protect the right to stay, leave and return to their country and constitutes the main legal basis of the on-going revocation of residency and deportation of Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

· Based on Israeli military orders that assigned a similarly precarious “resident” status to Palestinians elsewhere in the OPT, Israel had revoked the civil status and deported 140,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and 108,878 from the Gaza Strip by 1994. Since then Israel’s military regime treats West Bank Palestinians as quasi-citizens of the Palestinian Authority. Although retaining overall control over the PA, including the population register, Israel claims no responsibility for the human rights of the Palestinian population. Israel also includes the West Bank (the so-called “district of Judea and Samaria”) in its official demographic statistics, but omits mention of the Palestinian population there.

· A series of Israeli laws regulate the systematic and irreversible confiscation of Palestinian land and property, and their transfer into the permanent ownership of the state and the Jewish National Fund (JNF)Among them are the Absentees’ Property Law (1950), the Development Authority (Transfer of Property) Law (1950), the Land Acquisition for Public Purposes Ordinance (1943), and the Basic Law: Israel Lands (1960). Israeli law regulating the annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, moreover, contains a provision permitting claims for pre-1948 Jewish property in East Jerusalem, but not claims for pre-1948 Palestinian property in West Jerusalem (Legal and Administrative Matters (Regulation) Law (Consolidated Version), 1970).

· Finally, another set of Israel laws conveys public status and functions in Israel and the OPT – mainly in the administration and development of (appropriated Palestinian) land, communities and public services – to private Zionist organizations which are mandated to cater exclusively to the “Jewish people” (World Zionist Organization-Jewish Agency “Status” Law of 1952; Keren Kayemet Le-Israel Law of 1953; Covenant with Zionist Executive of 1954). As a result of these laws, in combination with the above system of land and property laws, 93% of the land in Israel came under the state’s control and is administered by the Israel Land Authority (ILA; formerly Israel Land Administration), where the JNF commands “decisive influence,” by law, ensuring that the land is exclusively used for the benefit Jews.

This discriminatory legal framework is completed by a state of emergency that has remained in force since 1948, and a set of emergency regulations. These are the basis for confiscation of Palestinian property under the Absentees’ Property Law, and inhuman acts such as torture, administrative detention and punitive home demolitions, committed in the name of “security”, all in violation of international law and standards.

Racial segregation

Racial segregation, i.e., forced separation and unequal treatment of Jewish and Palestinian populations living in the same territory, is an additional element of Israel’s system of institutionalized racial oppression and domination. Racial segregation (in Hebrew: hafrada) is an official Israeli policy that has been strongly condemned by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Examples are the maintenance of “Arab departments” and separate “Arab” and “Jewish sectors” in Israeli public administration, as well as the consecutive oppressive military regimes over Palestinians but not the Jewish population, first over Palestinian citizens (1948 – 1966), and then in the OPT since 1967.

Inhumane acts of apartheid

In the context of this institutionalized system of racial discrimination and segregation, and based on the massive ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948, Israel, as “state of the Jewish people”, has reversed ownership and control of the land, changed the demographic composition of the country, and obtained effective control of the entire territory of pre-1948 Palestine. Whereas most Palestinians lived in Palestine as citizens until 1948, approximately one half of 11.8 million Palestinians today live abroad, and close to 70% are refugees and internally displaced persons. Whereas at least 90% of the land of historic Palestine was owned by Palestinians before the 1948 Nakba, Palestinians have effective control of only some 10% of the land today (3% in Israel, 40% in the OPT).

Israel keeps millions of Palestinians in protracted refugee-hood and forced exile. Since its “unilateral disengagement” (2005) from Gaza and the declaration of the Hamas-led PA as “hostile entity” (2007), Israel has pursued a policy of permanent separation of the occupied Gaza Strip from the country, aiming to get rid of the tiny strip of land with its large Palestinian population (1.7 million), most of them refugees (75%) with outstanding claims to their Israeli-confiscated land and (destroyed) homes located only a few kilometres away.

Elsewhere, Israel continues to dispossess and forcibly displace Palestinians who have remained in the country, as citizens of Israel, residents of occupied East Jerusalem, or under Israeli military rule in the occupied West Bank. Israel destroys or appropriates Palestinian heritage, communities and homes, confiscates Palestinian property and natural resources, and denies adequate services to populations it has deprived of their own means of livelihood and development.

Whereas all of the above is carried out gradually as a matter of routine administration, Israel also regularly seeks and exploits situations of acute armed conflict and crisis, such as recently in the occupied Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, which provide a veil of “security” and “counter-terrorism” for aggressive implementation of these policies, and oppression of Palestinian resistance, by means of punitive campaigns and collective punishment.

The violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by Israel are not the occasional violations of a state based on the rule of law, or accidental war crimes of an otherwise lawful occupying power. Based on a legal system that defines Israel as the state of a “Jewish nation”, claims sovereignty in the OPT and endorses racial discrimination and segregation, Israel has systematically and deliberately oppressed the indigenous Palestinian people, in order to undermine and foreclose self-determination, and with the intention to maintain its regime of Jewish-Israeli domination and expand it into the OPT.

As confirmed by renowned scholars of international law,[2] the Israeli policies and measures applied in aggregate against Palestinians for this aim meet the definition of “inhumane acts” (crimes) of apartheid in the 1973 Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute of the ICC, in particular: forced transfer of population; persecution (systematic and severe deprivation of fundamental human rights because of affiliation with a racial group); murder; torture, unlawful imprisonment and other severe deprivation of physical liberty, and persecution because of opposition to apartheid.

On the occasion of this anniversary of the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights, the BNC urges states, the United Nations and private enterprises to fully assume their responsibilities vis-à-vis the serious violations and crimes committed by Israel. All states must adopt measures, including sanctions, in order to end Israeli colonialism, apartheid and population transfer. No state must give recognition, aid or assistance to their maintenance and those responsible must be brought to justice.

We call on people of conscience worldwide to intensify BDS campaigns to isolate Israel’s regime of settler colonialism and apartheid in the academic, cultural, economic and military fields, in order to bring about Israel’s full compliance with its obligations under international law. This must include pressuring companies to end complicit business activity and institutions to divest. Pressure must also be increased on governments to finally adopt effective measures, starting with a comprehensive military embargo, as well as the suspension of free-trade and cooperation agreements with Israel.

[1] As pointed out by Miloon Kothari, former UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, the official Israeli translation of the Ezrahut (Hebrew for Citizenship) Law (1952) as “Nationality Law” is misleading. Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, Miloon Kothari’, UN Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-ninth session, 15 June 2002, Footnote #4, p.23.
[2] See, for example, Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Cape Town Session (2011), summary of findings; also, UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard, A/HRC/4/17 (29 Jan 2007); UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, A/HRC/16/72 (10 January 2011)

Why is the ICRC helping defend Israeli war crimes?

Tue, 09/12/2014 - 11:48am

An ICRC press conference in Jerusalem. The supposedly neutral humanitarian organization sponsored last week a conference held by a hawkish Israeli think thank. (Saeed Qaq / APA images)

Despite heavy criticism, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) remained co-sponsor of a controversial conference last week which was planned with an Israeli military strategy think tank, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

Called the “Challenges of Warfare in Densely Populated Areas,” the conference took place on 2 December and is reported to have presented arguments that indemnified Israel from allegations of war crimes.

INSS, a fulcrum in Israel’s security and military establishment, is frequently a source of hawkish propaganda and legalistic rationale for Israeli actions. In August, Giora Eiland, the former head of the INSS, argued in a Ynetnews piece, titled “In Gaza, there is no such thing as ‘innocent civilians,’” against the “artificial, wrong and dangerous distinction” between Hamas fighters and the civilian population of Gaza.

The ICRC usually maintains neutrality on armed and political conflicts so as to enable a higher degree of access than is afforded to more charged organizations and institutions. What the public sees is ICRC’s humanitarian work: its medical relief, infrastructure assistance and monitoring of prison conditions. Away from the gaze of the media, IRCR delegates meet with leaders of state and guerrilla armed forces to urge compliance with international standards to reduce civilian casualties.

For instance, during a press conference at the height of the warJacques de Maio, the head of the ICRC’s delegation to Israel and Palestine, said, “We are pressuring the Israelis in a confidential fashion to improve and to ensure that there are no women and children and innocent civilians that are shedding their blood.”

But it appears that publicly, the ICRC and de Maio were very happy to come to Israel’s defense at a conference dedicated chiefly to defending Israel’s actions. The Jerusalem Post, the only paper to report on the conference in English, wrote that Tel Aviv University professor Eyal Gross was the lone participant at the conference to condemn the Israeli army’s conduct during the war.

ICRC gives Israel a pass

At last week’s conference, de Maio was a keynote speaker, providing both opening and closing remarks to a day packed with army affiliates: former and current military personnel from the Israeli military, the US and British armies and Israeli military lawyers.

The Jerusalem Post quoted de Maio as having rebuffed critics of the co-sponsorship on Tuesday, saying: “We don’t endorse Israel, and when we talk to Hamas, the Taliban and other terrorists, we don’t endorse them, either.”

However, as de Maio indicated at his press conference, those meetings occur confidentially. A former employee with the the American Red Cross told The Electronic Intifada that the co-sponsorship was needless: “The ICRC already has a seat at the table, they don’t need to sponsor a forum to discuss humanitarian concerns.”

Going even further, de Maio echoed some of Israel’s most ardent defenders by chastising critics of Israel for not paying more attention to who he suggests are worse regional actors.

“Why is there so much more focus on Israel than on Syria [and] other places where many more civilians are dying?” de Maio asked, according to The Jerusalem Post. “In other ongoing wars, more civilians die in one week than in Israeli wars in a full year.”

Israel’s targeting of civilian spaces

During Israel’s fifty-day attack on Gaza from 8 July to 26 August, at least 2,131 Palestinians were killed, 1,473 of which were recorded as civilians by the United Nations. Throughout the seven weeks, Israel flagrantly attacked civilian infrastructure and places of civilian congregation.

Israel destroyed 18,000 housing units and on seven separate occasions, bombed UN schools serving as makeshift shelters for the displaced and fleeing. Israel destroyed or badly damaged two dozen medical facilities, leading Amnesty International to call for an immediate investigation into what appeared to be the Israeli military’s “deliberate attacks” on hospitals and healthcare workers.

While the conference was planned before Israel’s bombing campaign on Gaza began in July, it began to garner attention and condemnation amid the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza over the summer. The premise of the conference was particularly troublesome given Israel’s repeated targeting of civilian infrastructure during the assault.

An online petition was started by a Tel Aviv University graduate student demanding the ICRC to withdraw its sponsorship, alleging that ICRC was implicitly endorsing INSS through the co-sponsorship: “By co-organizing this conference, the ICRC will be giving those key figures a venue to proudly brag about their latest military technologies they claim is [sic] being used in wars against “terrorists” and cause no harm to civilians [—] only that in Gaza few hundred kilometers away, this is proven to be a lie.”

Justifying war crimes

Despite the abundance of evidence that Israel knowingly targeted areas packed with civilians, in some cases seeking shelter and refuge, de Maio criticized what he described as distorted attention paid to these violations and urged equivalent criticism of Israel’s and Hamas’ conduct during the seven weeks of fighting.

Other panelists that presented at the conference included Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, who served as the head of the Israeli military’s International Law Department during Israel’s 2008-2009 assault on Gaza. According to The Jerusalem Post, Sharvit-Baruch argued at the conference that the principle of proportionality could allow the Israeli military to bomb “controversial potential targets” like hospitals.

Speaking on the same panel as Sharvit-Baruch was Laurie Blank, a professor of law at Emory University. Blank had the distinction of being the only participant unaffiliated with a military. Two weeks into Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge,” Blank weighed in on the war in the op-ed pages of The Hill, urging readers to use the principle of proportionality — not the appearance of asymmetry — to judge the morality of the mounting carnage in Gaza:

News reports of civilians killed or wounded in the course of combat in Gaza tell us of tragedy and loss. They tell us of the horrors of urban warfare and the challenges of fighting against a terrorist group bent on using the civilian population as a shield for its operatives, rocket launchers and weapons caches. They tell us that we must be more vigilant in condemning and holding accountable those who exploit civilians for tactical and strategic advantage.

Taken with this argument, Israel defenders seized Blank’s article: the conservative law blog Volokh Conspiracy at The Washington Post asked Blank to extend her analysis on their forum and the Mossad-linked Israeli group Shurat HaDin praised her piece and reposted it on their website.

Countering this common method to exonerate Israel, human rights attorney Noura Erekat wrote in the wake of the ceasefire: “A belligerent’s violation of the laws of war does not release an adversary belligerent from its obligations to observe them. Doing so would render the entire corpus of law futile and create a no-holds-barred situation in conflict.” Erekat goes on to emphasize that Israel’s direct attack on civilians “unequivocally violate the principle of distinction and constitute war crimes.”

On 30 July, de Maio wrote an imploring piece in Haaretz calling on people to “stop the killing, stop the destruction” while placing no blame on any one actor. In the piece, de Maio vividly tells how one man’s entire family was decimated — his young son, his wife and his mother — after being in close proximity to a military target. De Maio wonders woefully if the death of this innocent family will be reduced to a statistic.

But judging by his remarks to the audience gathered at the posh headquarters of the INSS, more innocent Palestinian families need to die, and with increasing frequency, before Israel can be rightfully indicted.

Boycott RE/MAX protests flood the US during Week of Action

Tue, 09/12/2014 - 11:43am

While temperatures cooled, the first week of December saw a tremendous kindling of the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement, as Palestinian solidarity activists across the US flooded RE/MAX offices, demanding that the real estate giant cease its activities in illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

RE/MAX is one of the largest real estate corporations in the world. RE/MAX International, based in the US, with headquarters in Denver, Colorado, oversees more than 100,000 agents in over 7,000 offices in almost 100 countries. Realtor Magazine has consistently ranked numerous RE/MAX franchises in its annual list of Top 100 Companies.

Several of RE/MAX’s Israeli franchises sell property in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the French Hill, Armon HaNatziv, and Pisgat Ze’ev. The office of RE/MAX Israel’s Atid franchise is itself located in Maale Adumim, a major illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. RE/MAX Israel agents openly admit that many of the homes they sell can only be owned by Jewish people.

The United Nations published a report in 2013 indicating that RE/MAX LLC, the US-based parent company, can be “held accountable” for the crimes of RE/MAX Israel, over which it “has constant interaction and influence.” Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandates that the “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies,” and UN Security Council Resolution 446 explicitly states that Israel’s settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, in which RE/MAX Israel is operating, “have no legal validity.”

No Open House

In October 2014, peace and social justice organization CODEPINK launched the Boycott RE/MAX: No Open House on Stolen Land (or No Open House, for short) campaign. At the end of November, No Open house launched its official website, The website includes answers to frequently asked questions, a campaign timeline and tactics, a newsletter, links to further reading materials, and a wide array of resources, including shareable memes, protest chants, and a draft of a letter to send to RE/MAX.

CODEPINK says its goal in launching the campaign is to pressure RE/MAX “to cut its ties with franchises involved in the sale or rental of settlement properties.” Sophia Armen, National Coordinator of the Boycott RE/MAX: No Open House on Stolen land, explained the “campaign is a call for people of conscience to address the complicity of RE/MAX corporation in heinous violations of international law. It is our duty, as people concerned with justice, to be in solidarity with Palestinians and to address how these large corporations are profiting off continuing displacement, dispossession and death in Israel/Palestine.”

In October 2014, CODEPINK sent a letter to RE/MAX co-founder and Chairman of the Board Dave Liniger. The RE/MAX executive never responded. Overall, CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin says, RE/MAX has been largely unresponsive and dismissive. In the summer of 2014, CODEPINK began working on building a coalition with Palestinian solidarity groups around the country, including countless chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace, and a variety of social justice, peace, anti-war, and leftist organizations.

By October, CODEPINK made a national call for a Week of Action, to be held from 29 November to 5 December. Activists from over 15 major cities organized demonstrations outside of local RE/MAX offices. CODEPINK organizer Desirée Fairooz says the strategy of activists targeting local RE/MAX franchises “is the only way to express solidarity with this campaign in their own hometowns,” noting it is not clearly feasible for everyone to travel to the Denver headquarters to protest. Fairooz says she hopes local protests will inspire franchises to tell “LLC ‘Make it stop!’, thereby pressuring LLC to close operations in Occupied Palestine.”

On 21 November, Rich Forer, author of Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion – A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict, delivered a petition with over 4,000 signatures to the RE/MAX headquarters in Denver, Colorado, requesting that Chairman Liniger “stop RE/MAX Israel’s illegal sales of Jewish-only settlement homes on Palestinian land.” In the early December Week of Action, activists throughout the country delivered this petition to local RE/MAX offices.

Boycott RE/MAX Week of Action

On Saturday, 29 November, three Boycott RE/MAX demonstrations were held, thousands of miles apart. Activists from a variety of groups, including CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, and more gathered in Dallas, Texas; Strongsville, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland; and Somerville, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, to protest outside of RE/MAX offices. Those in Strongsville and Somerville stood outside for hours in below-freezing weather. Cleveland-based activist Toni Ann Rozsahegyi said she helped organize the action because she feels “it’s important to raise awareness of the fact that companies like RE/MAX break international law and impede the peace process for profit.”

On Monday, 1 December, Palestinian solidarity activists in Los Angeles demonstrated in front of a RE/MAX office, holding signs reading “RE/MAX, stop making money off violating law,” “RE/MAX sells ILLEGAL settlements,” “RE/MAX, stop selling stolen land,” “RE/MAX, every settlement is an obstacle to peace,” and more.

On Tuesday, 2 December, activists from CODEPINK Greater Boston, the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, United for Justice with Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace Boston, and more held a demonstration outside a RE/MAX office in Boston. Organizer Hayat Imam said she “salute[s] CODEPINK for putting out the call for actions against RE/MAX to demand that they stop the sale of houses on stolen Palestinian land by their franchisee RE/MAX Israel” and feel[s] good about the fact that our action is the opening salvo of the boycott in Boston.” Imam explains the activists made an appointment with RE/MAX and organized a representative “delegation” of individuals “who had just been to Palestine so they could talk about the first hand conditions there” to hand a letter to the RE/MAX Chair.

Coalitions of protesters also gathered in both Chicago and Denver. Pat Hunt, an organizer in the former, insisted that “it’s our responsibility to shine a light on the illegal settlements and” on RE/MAX Israel’s illegal profiteering. “We need to keep the pressure on companies that participate in apartheid and let them know we will not tolerate it,” Hunt said.

On Wednesday, 3 December, Palestinian human rights advocates protested in San Francisco and Washington, DC. Activists in the nation’s capital were joined by Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

Falk spoke about the importance of pressuring RE/MAX to end its illegal activities and addressed the the illegality and immorality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

We are here today to bring pressure on RE/MAX to comply with international humanitarian law, to cease engaging in commercial activities with the settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem. And we have made every effort to engage the officers of RE/MAX in a constructive dialogue, which they have refused to engage in, presumably because they have no response to make. And we are disappointed that they won’t even physically receive our petition.

It is a shame that the interests of the market take precedence over the interests of people and the well-being of people and a common sense of morality. …

To establish a settlement of the occupying power’s people in an occupied society is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. And this has gone not for just a few months, or even a few years, but more than 47 years. …

And RE/MAX, in the mean time, will feel the costs of continuing to deal with these unlawful settlements. They really are making a sustainable peace between these two peoples a real impossibility. So it’s not just a matter of violating a particular provision of law; it’s subjecting the Palestinian people as a whole to the daily ordeal of living under this prolonged occupation that’s gone on longer than any other comparable situation in recent history.

It is a scandal that the international community has allowed this to go on for so long.

DC-based CODEPINK organizer Anna Kaminski addressed the need to make realtor allies in the Boycott RE/MAX movement. “While local franchises indeed have nothing to do with RE/MAX Israel, this visibility of protests helps to mount pressure on headquarters which has the power to halt operations in any franchise at any time,” she said. Protesting local RE/MAX branches “can also help individual franchises learn more about what their company is doing overseas and realtors can use the opportunity to learn more about the conflict and how their company violates international law. Realtors can then use their concern regarding a boycott to help mount pressure on RE/MAX HQ.”

Only miles away, on the same day, in Olney, Maryland, activists gathered outside of a RE/MAX office, holding signs reading “RE/MAX Israel complicit in theft of Palestinian homes,” “Stolen land not for sale,” and “RE/MAX profits – Palestinians suffer.”

On Thursday, 4 December, activists woke up bright and early to protest RE/MAX in Houston, Texas, in what was the second Boycott RE/MAX demonstration in Texas in five days.

On Friday, 5 December, the country saw its largest flood of Boycott RE/MAX protests. Activists gathered outside of a RE/MAX office in Rochester, Minnesota. Just two days after one demonstration, San Francisco Palestinian human rights activists got together for another.

Miles away, in Ventura, California, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Students for Justice in Palestine met with RE/MAX representatives, asking the workers to pressure their company to stop its operation in illegal settlements. The students also connected the struggle of indigenous Palestinians against Israeli colonization to that of immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border, as well as to the struggle of black Americans in Ferguson and across the US, protesting police brutality and structural racism in the Justice System. Anumita Kaur, a UCSB SJP organizer, spoke of what she sees as the importance of the BDS movement, explaining that, as “students at the UC, our tuition money is invested in corporations profiting off of Israeli apartheid and occupation—we are not okay with this.”

In Portland, Maine, protesters assembled in freezing weather. They made cardboard props of RE/MAX apartment complexes, emblazoned with the word “stolen,” and stood next to mounds of snow. Maine-based CODEPINK organizer Lisa Savage explains they scheduled the demonstration to coincide with evening commute traffic and to be end when a Black Lives Matter civil rights march began, which many of the Palestinian solidarity activists then joined.

New York City held the fifth demonstration on this day. Members of Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, and many others flooded New York RE/MAX offices, asking the offices to convey to RE/MAX International that RE/MAX Israel’s illegal sales must cease immediately.

No Open House’s Week of Action marked just the beginning of the Boycott RE/MAX campaign, and it marked it with a bang. Activists around the country showed great enthusiasm and took great initiative, organizing more than 20 demonstrations. Noteworthy was the community-based nature of all these protests, demonstrating that the Palestinian solidarity movement is a true grassroots movement, and that this grassroots movement is growing rapidly. While the chill of winter begins to fill the air, this new phase of the BDS movement is just heating up.

Elbit Systems loses key Brazil deal over Palestine protests

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 12:19pm

The Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has cancelled a major collaboration deal with Israeli military company Elbit Systems in the wake of protests over the firm’s role in oppression of Palestinians.

Brazilian social movements and trade unions and Palestinian groups had called on authorities to cancel the deal over Elbit’s role in the construction of Israel’s illegal apartheid Wall in the occupied West Bank and its close relationship with the Israeli military.

Tarson Nuñéz, the coordinator of the international relations department of the Rio Grande do Sul government described his government’s decision by saying:

“Our government has always given centrality to the promotion of peace and human rights and considers the demands of the social movements and important voice that needs to be heard. Today’s announcement is a logical consequence of this.”

Drones supplied by Elbit Systems were tested during Israel’s recent attack on Gaza that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, and Elbit’s share price has risen since the massacre as investors anticipated a rise in orders of technology that was used for the first time during the attacks.

Rio Grande do Sul governor Tarso Genro had signed a research cooperation deal making Elbit the first Israeli military companyto lead Brazilian military projects in April 2013. Elbit was to be provided access to public funding and technologies produced by four local universities. Ongoing protests and lack of federal support had weakened the project. In his open letter, Genro declared the memorandum of understanding to be “void of meaning”.

A $17m plan to build a military satellite is among the projects cancelled by Tuesday’s announcement.

The announcement has been welcomed as a major victory for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian led campaign for the South Africa-style international isolation of Israel.

Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Palestinian Stop the Wall campaign, a member of the BDS National Committee coalition of organisations that leads the BDS movement, said:

“Elbit Systems has become a symbol of Israel’s construction of an apartheid wall in occupied Palestine and its military aggression against our people. Israel is only able to sustain its human rights violations because of international collaboration including through deals such as the one that the Rio Grande do Sul government has now cancelled.”

“In the wake of Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, we hope that other governments will take steps to end military cooperation with Israel.”

Brazilian organisations including the CUT trade union federation, the World March of Women and local student groups and political parties had all pressured the Rio Grande do Sul authorities to cancel the deal with Elbit Systems and even blockaded entrances to premises owned by Elbit subsidiary AEL Sistemas. The Palestinian embassy and the Palestinian Federation in Brazil have repeatedly intervened with the government.

The rector of the university leading aerospace research in the region had declared that the university would not work with Elbit Systems on any research that could have military research, casting the viability of the memorandum of understanding into doubt.

Antonio Lisboa, secretary of international relations at the CUT trade union federation, said:

“This welcome decision of the government of Rio Grande do Sul reflects the growing opposition to Israel’s apartheid policies. The Brazilian government must now cut all military ties with Israel, a state that practices state terrorism against Palestinians.”

In 2009, the Norwegian state pension fund divested from Elbit Systems, and more than a dozen institutional investors have since followed this example.

Elbit factories in the UK and Australia were occupied during Israel’s recent Gaza massacre.

Governments and local authorities are increasingly taking action against corporate complicity with Israeli violations of international law. At least 17 EU governments have warned businesses about the risks of doing business in illegal Israeli settlements. French multinational Veolia has lost more than $20bn in contracts with local authorities over its provision of infrastructure services to illegal Israeli settlements.

Rio Grande do Sul had already stated to play an important role regarding the question of Palestine when in 2012 the World Social Forum Free Palestine was held in Porto Alegre.

Mahmoud Nawajaa, the coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said:

“This decision is an important example of how the grassroots organizing of the BDS movement can influence and change government policy. Earlier this week, we met under the umbrella of the UN to discuss effective measures to coordinate policies by local governments to exclude companies that help Israel violate international law from public contracts”.

Jamal Juma’ from Stop the Wall added:

“Today’s decision gives hope to all Palestinians resisting Israel’s brutal apartheid system. We thank all those movements and activists that have made this victory for Palestinian rights possible”.

Olive Declaration of UN conference of local governments and civil society organisations in support of Palestinian rights

Tue, 02/12/2014 - 11:17am

The representatives of city and local governments, as well as of civil society organizations who gathered in Seville during the International Conference of Governments and Civil Society Organizations in Support of Palestinian Rights, organized by the Andalusian Fund of Municipalities for International Solidarity (FAMSI), the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the Junta of Andalusia, with the collaboration of the Parliament of Andalusia, where the event took place, declare:

67 years after the adoption of UN Resolution 181 (II) and the Palestinian Nakba; 21 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords and on the 10th anniversary of ICJ advisory opinion on the Wall coinciding with the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (2014);

Reaffirming our unconditional support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, namely their right to self-determination, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right of the Palestine refugees to return to their homes and properties, and to compensation for the property of those choosing not to return, and for loss or damage to property, in accordance with United Nations resolutions and international law;

Reaffirming the customary law and norms enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, which prohibits the acquisition of territory by force; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and our own national Constitutions;

Alarmed by the ongoing deterioration of the situation in Jerusalem, the ongoing displacement and violations of the Palestinian fundamental rights, and by the increase of settlers’ violence and provocations against holy sites, particularly around the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound;

Calling for greater effectiveness of international diplomacy and of the institutions that should have put an end to this tragedy;

Condemning the recent attack against the Gaza Strip which resulted in the death of some 2,205 people, a quarter of them children; displacement of 500,000 Palestinians, and the destruction of crucial civilian infrastructure;

Condemning the continuous expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory despite the repeated calls of the international community to put an end to this practice;

Recalling the Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Israel, CERD/C/ISR/CO/13, 9 March 2007, paras. 22, 23, 33, 34 and 35; and CERD/C/ISR/CO/14–16, 9 March 2012, paras. 11, 15, 24–27, calling on Israel to end all policies and practices which violate the provisions of article 3 of the Convention, which prohibits racial segregation and apartheid;

Recalling the conclusions of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine on EU, US, the Security Council and international companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law

Recalling and celebrating good practices by local governments such as steps taken by over 16 municipalities in Andalusia and Catalonia endorsing the BDS campaign, the council of Leicester to boycott all settlement products and Rio Grande Do Sul’s government decision to suspend the Memorandum of Understanding with Elbit System and many other initiatives all over the world

Recognizing the growing impact of civil society movements to end the Israeli occupation, such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign;

Welcoming the growing international recognition of the Palestinian State and the ongoing Palestinian efforts supported by an increasing majority of countries, to engage the Security Council and other UN bodies;

Taking into consideration the long and passionate exchange of views during these two days, we call for

  •  the European Union and its Member States to fulfill their obligations under international law, as stated in the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Wall, not to help to maintain nor to render aid or assistance to the illegal situation coming from the breach of international law, and to play a greater role in ensuring accountability and to take concrete steps to implement the human rights provisions of its association agreements;
  •   all Member States of United Nations to live up to the Charter principles by ending their political and economic support for Israel’s violations of international law and holding it juridically accountable for its crimes through their own and international mechanisms;
  • all layers of the international community, including local governments and civil society to gather support and exert pressure to end the siege of the Gaza Strip, and demanding the end of the abusive illegal use of administrative detention and freedom to all Palestinian political prisoners, supporting, among others, the international campaign “Free Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners”
  • local governments to develop and reinforce relations between them and Palestinian municipalities trough educational, economic, social, political, cultural, youth, media and expert exchanges, in a sustainable way, and the signing of more twinning agreements; focusing on Area C and Jerusalem;
  •  international, European and national institutions to reinforce the Diplomacy of the Cities and eliminate the obstacles that complicate the development of Decentralized Cooperation;
  •  Local governments to commit to responsible investment by not contracting with parties and not twinning with cities that support or benefit from occupation or violate related prohibitions under international law.
  • Civil society to pressure their local and national governments to hold into account Israel and companies complicit with its violations of international humanitarian and human rights law;
  • the United Nations to adopt a principled, ethically responsible and transparent procurement policy and mechanism for contracting with companies, for instance in the reconstruction of Gaza; that exclude from all tenders any parties, Israeli and other, that are complicit with the Israeli occupation, human rights abuses and violations of international law.***

Let us harness solidarity into forms of action that can end international support for Israel’s crimes

Sat, 29/11/2014 - 10:54am

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that works to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, warmly salutes all those organizing events and actions to mark the UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

A little over three months since the end of Israel’s massacre of more than 2,190 of our people in Gaza, we take comfort and inspiration from the inspiring wave of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) action that has been organised by supporters of our struggle across the world in response.

Recent significant BDS developments include:

  • The incredible and truly remarkable Block the Boat mobilisations across North America and in Oakland, California in particular that have succeeded in blocking many ships from the Israeli company Zim Integrated Shipping Services from docking at ports. The actions have undoubtedly cost this key company, which is regarded by Israel as a “security asset”, millions of pounds. Reports have suggested that Zim may be cancelling ships to Oakland altogether.
  • The student government at the University of California at Los Angeles recently became the sixth of nine undergraduate campuses in the University of California system within the last two years to pass a resolution calling for divestment from firms that profit from the Israeli occupation, just the latest in a long line of recent campus successes in North America as support for Palestine becomes a key issue for progressive student movements everywhere.
  • The government of Kuwait announced that it is to boycott 50 companies over their role in Israeli violations of international law following pressure from Kuwaiti campaigners and the BNC. Companies excluded include Volvo, Heidelberg Cement, Dexia, Pizzarotti, Alstom as well as Veolia. Veolia was recently excluded from a $750m contract, and “all future contracts,” by Kuwaiti authorities over its role in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project.
  • The Israeli air force was excluded from military exercises taking place in Italy following a high profile campaign. Political parties, progressive movements and trade unions across Europe and the world have spoken in support of a military embargo against Israel in recent months.
  • More than 300 European organisations, including some of Europe’s largest trade unions, political parties and NGOs, have called on the EU to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, the deal that allows Israel preferential access to EU markets and funding programs. People living in Europe are invited to lobby their MEP to support the demands of the statement by visiting
  • British security giant G4S has recently lost out on contracts with the Irish government and with the Durham, North Carolina municipality in the US following campaigns opposing its deep involvement in Israel’s prison system. G4S has sought to distance itself from Israel’s prison system in recent months, even suggesting it may pull out from the system in 2017.
  • In October, it was reported that a growing number of European banks are quietly divesting from companies that participate in Israeli apartheid, adding to those banks, pension funds and investors such as PGGM, Nordea and the Norwegian and Luxembourg state pension funds that have made public announcements about similar divestment decisions.

Yet despite the continued growth and strength of the BDS movement, and the continued expressions of concern about BDS from Israeli elites, Israel’s recent massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and its current escalations of colonization and bloody repression in Jerusalem and elsewhere remind us that Israel continues to be allowed to act with impunity. Despite their criticisms of Israel, international governments and western governments in particular remain active supporters of Israel’s system of apartheid, colonization and occupation.

In the months to follow, we plan to work with grassroots solidarity networks, trade unions, faith groups, NGOs and social movements across the world to strengthen the reach and impact of the BDS movement.

Hundreds of thousands if not millions of people took to the streets in solidarity with Gaza earlier this year. The challenge for all of us is to work to harness those amazing displays of solidarity into forms of action and pressure that can end international support for Israel’s crimes.

In particular, we hope that we can strengthen our collective efforts to impose a comprehensive two-way military embargo on Israel, which would be crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people.

As people in Gaza face devastating floods, the impact of which are being greatly increased by Israel’s wanton destruction of Palestinian homes and infrastructure and the siege that has been imposed by Israel since 2007, we also plan to continue to highlight the failure and deeply problematic nature of the so-called “Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism”.

Studies show that at least 45% of the $5.4 billion reconstruction aid pledged by international donors will go to the Israeli economy, and corporate criminals that pillage Palestinian natural resources and take part in the colonization of our land are set to rake in massive profits from the scheme. We urge BDS supporters everywhere to take action online via our website and the Thunderclap social media platform.

We urge supporters of the principles of freedom, justice and equality to join the growing critical mass of people working to further the international boycott, divestment and sanction campaign.

Together, we can make a real contribution to Palestinian resistance to Israel’s brutal regime of colonialism and apartheid, and help to ensure that Israel faces accountability and further isolation.


Major campaign success against G4S in the US

Tue, 25/11/2014 - 3:05pm

Durham becomes first municipality to boycott G4S for Israel security role
Drops $1 million private police contract

DURHAM, NC, November 24, 2014 — Durham has become the first U.S. municipality to boycott a company because of its role in perpetuating injustice in Israel/Palestine.

On a night when the Ferguson grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, Durham residents successfully brought an end to a $1 million annual contract between the County and with private security corporation G4SSecure Solutions.

G4S previously provided security at Durham County libraries and civic buildings. Durham reconsidered its security contract after residents protested the role of the privatized police force in the community and the company’s involvement in Israeli institutions that detain and discriminate against Palestinians.

“As a long-time Durham resident, the presence in my community of a company that participates in the oppression of my people makes me feel unsafe and unwelcome,” said Ahmad Jitan. “Given their track record in occupied Palestine, I do not expect G4S to have the best interests of people of color here in Durham in mind. If Ferguson can’t even keep the public police force accountable for their actions, how can we expect to keep a private police force like G4S accountable? For the sake of both my homes, I am proud that the county dropped the G4S contract. I do not want my tax money to fund a company that profits from the occupation of my people’s land.”

G4S signed a contract with the Israeli Prison Service in 2007 and its machinery and security officers have been deployed in checkpoints and illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.

“Since I moved to Israel and saw the reality of life for Palestinians with my own eyes, I could no longer remain silent,” said Emily Schneider, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace – NC. “I waited for hours with Palestinian friends at checkpoints that look like cages—that run with G4S security equipment. Thank you, Durham County Commissioners, for boycotting G4S.”

G4S has also been implicated in human rights abuses across the globe, including torture in prisons; in August 2014 the company was awarded a $118 million contract in Guantanamo Bay. It is a target of the international boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) movement.

Earlier this year, an interfaith coalition of seven North Carolina organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace, the Salaam-Shalom Committee of the Church of Reconciliation, and the Muslim American Public Affairs Council, wrote a letter to the Durham County Commissioners asking that they reconsider the contract with G4S. Over 200 residents also added their photographs to a visual petition.

“I grew up in South Africa under apartheid. When I look at the Palestinians, they look very much like me. The same thing is happening to them that happened to us,” said Kay-Robert Volkwijn, a retired Presbyterian minister. “Durham County dropping the contract with G4S Secure Solutions sends a powerful signal that the people in power in the Durham community will not be part of supporting occupation.”

Durham County joins the University of Kent, King’s College London, and the Irish Government, among other institutions, in cutting or denying contracts with G4S due to its activities in Israel/Palestine. Earlier this year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Methodist Church both divested from G4S.

G4S will be allowed to bid in the new County Request for Proposals, which is expected to come out within 30 days. However, the Durham Drop G4S coalition has vowed to continue pressure to ensure G4S does not receive the new contract.

Tell the UN: Don’t reward Israel for Gaza massacre

Tue, 25/11/2014 - 10:07am

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