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Further evidence of the BDS campaign’s steady victory over apartheid in Israel has come from what some might see as a strange source in the U.S.
The following article appeared on the Mondoweiss website September 13th 2011.
Presbyterian Church committee recommends church divest from Caterpillar, HP and Motorola over Israeli human rights abuses
by Adam Horowitz on September 13, 2011
The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment has recommended that the church divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions due to their relationship to Israeli human rights abuses in the occupied territories. This decision comes as the result of a corporate engagement process which began in 2004 and sought to influence corporate policy vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. From a church press release:
“The General Assembly asked us to do everything we could to bring about change through dialogue, and we have done this, even asking the Assembly for more time over the years,” said committee chair the Rev. Brian Ellison, a pastor from Kansas City, Mo. “Today we are sadly reporting that these efforts have not produced any substantive change in company policies or practices, and that there is little reason for hope they will do so in the future. According to the Assembly’s prior directives and the church’s ordinary engagement process, we have little choice but to recommend divestment.”
The committee has been engaging several companies profiting from non-peaceful pursuits in the region, including activity connected with Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, since the 2004 General Assembly. MRTI’s recommendations will be presented in February 2012 to the General Assembly Mission Council and then, with the Council’s approval, to the General Assembly in July 2012.
“We have not made this decision lightly, but have undertaken it with prayer and great care,” Ellison said. “We have appreciated the witness of brothers and sisters around the church in our process, both from presbyteries where these corporations are located and from those who have called us to move more quickly in this direction. We continue to pray for employees of these companies and their congregations as they are affected by this decision. We also continue to pray that all companies and individuals in the region will redouble their efforts to seek a just peace and support for human rights for all Israeli and Palestinian people.”
The press release also included the following information about the companies in question:
Background on Companies
Caterpillar has profited from sales of its products to Israeli military and civilian authorities, including its D-9 bulldozers which are used to demolish Palestinian homes and construct settlements and Israeli-only roads on Palestinian land, acts deemed illegal under international law. The company has never accepted responsibility for how its products are used and has not responded to requests for dialogue since 2009 from MRTI or other religious groups.
Hewlett-Packard has profited from sales of specialized technology used in invasive and unjust biometric scanning processes at checkpoints in the separation wall constructed on Palestinian territory. It has also provided hardware used by the Israeli Navy in its internationally condemned blockade of the Gaza Strip and in the municipal governments of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, deemed illegal under international law. Discussions with the company have been unproductive, and the company has been unwilling to address serious issues of concern.
Motorola Solutions, one of two companies to emerge from a corporate reorganization of Motorola at the start of 2011, has profited from providing communications technology to the Israeli military used in operations in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, and has built and supported high-tech surveillance systems in the separation barrier and Israeli settlements built illegally on Palestinian land. The company has consistently declined to have dialogue with religious investors.
Jewish people, who don’t feel any desire to identify with the Zionist State of Israel, have long accused the Zionists of exploiting the Holocaust for their own political ends. Israel does not “own” the Holocaust. Its lessons and legacies are not the sole domain of the Zionist state of Israel. Antony Loewenstein, an Australian Jewish journalist, published the following article in New Matilda just recently. He calls on the supporters of Israel to end the offensive tactic of equating the fight for justice and equality for the Palestinian people with the pogroms of the Nazis in the 1930′s.
Enough With The Nazi Slurs
By Antony Loewenstein 25/08/2011
Equating the BDS movement with Nazism is both offensive and outrageous. So why aren’t members of the Jewish community speaking out on this, asks Antony Loewenstein
Joseph Stalin changed his name and so did New South Wales Federal Greens MP Lee Rhiannon.
Stalin, writes Alan Howe, executive editor and columnist with Rupert Murdoch’s Herald Sun, was “perhaps the 20th century’s greatest murderer”.
Rhiannon backs the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and, argues Howe, people should know about “the 1930s where violent protests against Jewish traders may end. It was a colourful time of brownshirts, blackshirts and yellow Stars of David”.
In this fashion, Rhiannon is likened to a supporter of fascism and remains “against the only democracy in the Middle East and the one country in which the region’s Arabs are guaranteed safety”.
Welcome to the level of debate in Australia over the Israel/Palestine conflict. The last months have seen a litany of public figures that should know better accusing anybody associated with the BDS movement of embracing Nazism, anti-Semitism and outright Jew-hatred.
It shames the Australian Jewish establishment that no leading voices have challenged this odious and absurd comparison. Instead, they’ve cheered it on, coordinating nationally, with the support of an Israeli government desperate to distract from its own anti-democratic practices.
The Australian Jewish News has editorialised that boycotting Jewish businesses here will remind Jews of similar Nazi tactics in Germany and Austria in the 1930s. How on earth will the paper cover real anti-Semitism when they so casually compare today’s behaviour to Hitler’s Third Reich?
Back in early July, 19 pro-Palestinian activists were arrested and charged for protesting in front of a Max Brenner chocolate shop in Melbourne. Max Brenner was targeted because its parent company Strauss Group supports elements of the IDF accused of war crimes in both the West Bank and Gaza.
This campaign has continued globally for years. For example, a reader of my website in 2009 sent me a copy of a letter they sent to Max Brenner outlining the reasons the company was a legitimate target for boycott.
The Victorian Government recently continued to threaten the activists with further legal punishment, imprisonment and fines.
Max Brenner’s parent company Strauss Group is an openly political business that proudly states on its Hebrew website that “We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and sweeten their special moments”. Some of these soldiers were directly implicated in war crimes allegations during incursions into the West Bank and the invasion of Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.
In late July, The Australian reported the campaign against the BDS movement in Australia with a story called, “Anti-Jew protest condemned”. Federal Labor MP Michael Danby, journalist Jana Wendt and union head Paul Howes met for a hot chocolate inside a Max Brenner shop in Melbourne, condemned the “violent” protest against the shop and again talked about Nazi Germany. Former Labor Party president Warren Mundine was quoted by journalist Leo Shanahan as saying BDS was not “not anti-Israel but anti-Jewish”.
Howes said the protesters were “mimicking the behaviour of the Nazi thugs” and it was necessary to “nip this in the bud”. Howes said most people who voted for the Greens had no idea how “xenophobic” its policies were. Not one journalist asked him whether he truly believed waving placards outside a shop in Melbourne is akin to the Gestapo arresting and murdering millions of Jews in the gas chambers. And no Jewish leaders took him to task for the comparison.
Last weekend’s article by The Australian’s Cameron Stewart allowed this misperception to perpetuate. Like Shanahan, Stewart quoted Wendt as saying that, “As the daughter of refugees whose lives were critically affected by both fascism and communism, I’m grateful for what Australia has to offer”.
A week later, the Victorian Government announced that it was investigating “anti-Israel activists” — by asking the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) if the BDS-ers were breaking federal law by “threatening” Israeli stores.
The state’s Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien raised the spectre of 20th century attacks on Jewish businesses and claimed BDS was a threat to democratic order. Bizarrely, he singled out the Maritime Union Of Australia, Geelong Trades Hall Council, the Green Left Weekly magazine, Australians for Palestine and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. For the record, Australians for Palestine had nothing to do with the BDS protest against Max Brenner, though they do back BDS.
The Australian followed up with a story recently headlined, “Targeted chocolatier ‘a man of peace’”. “Max Brenner says he is a man of peace who hates all forms of violence,” the article says. Reporter Cameron Stewart doesn’t mention the serious allegations against the IDF soldiers supported by Max Brenner. (And besides, Max Brenner is the name of the business — not of the company owner. Actually, it’s an amalgam of two names.)
One of the activists interviewed by Stewart, Kim Bullimore, spokesperson for Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, told me that little of what she said to the journalist ended up in the article.
The Australian editorialised further on the matter last week by arguing “for any student of 20th-century history there is something deeply offensive about targeting a Jewish-owned business”.
And the Jewish establishment said nothing.
BDS is a peaceful, non-violent movement, like that which campaigned against apartheid South Africa. It aims to put pressure on a state that refuses to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
What Australian politicians will not acknowledge is the real face of modern Israel. Calling for BDS inside Israel is now illegal. As an Arab member of parliament recently told the New York Times, a member of the Knesset wanted to sue him for simply calling for a boycott against the illegal settlement of Ariel. This is in “democratic” Israel.
With Israel announcing yet more illegal colonies in the West Bank, the international community has a clear choice: engage in empty rhetoric about “democratic” Israel or find alternative ways to target a state with one of the most unequal class systems in the developed world.
Australian politicians and all public figures should be strongly challenged on comparing BDS to fascist hoodlums, and rejected.
Following anti-Democratic Arrests and Intimidation Attempts: Israeli Citizens in Solidarity with Australian BDS Activists!
As Israeli citizens, we are angered by the outrageous attempts to exploit the horrors committed by the Nazi regime, through a comparison of the Palestinian led BDS campaign to the 1933 Nazi boycott campaign, in order to try and silence the Palestinian non-violent popular struggle for freedom and justice. The deplorable and racist Nazi boycott campaign targeted all Jews, without exception, and only for being Jewish. The Australian BDS campaign does NOT target Jewish businesses, as argued by demagogues in Australia! The lesson from the Jewish Holocaust should be, in our view, the need to oppose all forms of discrimination and violence committed against different ethnic groups in the name of nationalist or supremacist ideologies. The state of Israel has failed to learn that lesson.
To reiterate, we are concerned that some politicians in Australia have accused the activists involved in BDS of being anti-Semitic. We reject those accusations. The BDS campaign is a legitimate form of non-violent political action, whereby people and organizations are required not to participate in or support violations of international law. We take a clear stand against all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. Not only does the BDS campaign oppose anti-Semitism, it is also a responsible call that targets only complicit institutions rather than individuals. BDS is neither anti-Jewish nor anti-Israeli, since it does not oppose all that is Israeli because it is Israeli: the campaign simply insists that Israel abide by its obligations under international law. Furthermore, by attempting to lump together all Jews around the world as a monolithic block that is expected to support its criminal policies, the state of Israel is denying the fact that many Jews, including in Israel, oppose the occupation and apartheid policies inflicted on the Palestinian people.
The current debate within Israeli society shows us that the boycott campaign is extremely effective. The latest attempt by the Israeli government to silence its own citizens, the new anti-boycott legislation, in addition to other explicitly racist laws, is yet another indication of the need for this Palestinian-led non-violent global movement, in order to insure the rights of all people in this region.
The recent Australian BDS actions have been a great inspiration. We are encouraged to know that as far-away as Down Under there are individuals and groups active in the BDS campaign, promoting the Palestinian people’s unassailable rights. The BDS movement needs your help and support. We call upon all Australians to join and support the struggle for freedom and equality in Palestine.
With the deepest gratitude and all our support,
Tired Zionist Rhetoric
Andrew Bolt (another right winger in Australia committed to demonizing any who would criticize the state of Israel) has been at it again! This time he has shown footage of BDS protests around Australia; depicting the protesters as some type of analogous movement to the Nazi boycotting of Jewish stores in Europe. Bolts moronic ravings cannot be put down to ignorance; he is no genius, but is certainly smart enough to see through this type of nonsense. I find this particularly offensive as I was at one of these protests and I can testify (as God is my witness) that it (as anyone with the remotest understanding of the protesters and the cause they support knows) is not remotely motivated by any type of racist belief whatsoever, but is rather motivated by a passionate desire for equality, justice and peace in the Middle East. Adelaide (as well as the rest of Australia) has many businesses owned by Jewish people. Bolt fails to talk about why the BDS protesters don’t bother to protest against these Jewish businesses but rather concentrate on businesses (regardless of the ethnicity of who owns them) that have links to the state of Israel and the occupied territories. If Bolt did bother to raise these facts, his own Islamaphobia and racist attitudes would just be too obvious to hide.
So rather than send a letter to the editor, I decided to post some comments made by Jewish organisations and individuals supporting the BDS campaign. It was posted originally at
Jewish voices, in Israel and elsewhere, supporting the BDS movement
European Jews for a Just Peace
Network organisation of Jewish European peace groups: Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Near East – Austria; Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique; European Jews for a Just Peace Denmark; Union Juive Francaise pour la paix; Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in Middle East – Germany; Network of Jews Against Occupation – Italy; A Different Jewish Voice – Netherlands; Jews for Israeli-Palestinian Peace – Sweden; Jewish Socialists’ Group – United kingdom; Jews for Justice for Palestinians – United kingdom
“The time has come to translate our criticism of and opposition to the Israeli governments and policies into effective, non-violent actions like the BDS campaign. While the effect may seem symbolic in the first instance, such actions will activate a citizen base which will put pressure on the EU and national governments and Israeli society and government.”
American Jews for a Just Peace
An alliance of activists in the United States
“American Jews for a Just Peace believes that the power of moral suasion alone will not alter the facts on the ground in modern day Israel and what is left of Palestine. The Israeli state’s inexorable march toward the obliteration of the Palestinian nation within the borders of historic Palestine is nearly complete, and no amount of rhetoric, good intentions, and pleas alone will alter that fact.
“In light of this reality, and of the tragic, inhumane, and illegal siege of Gaza and occupation of the West Bank, AJJP joins and endorses the call from Palestinian Civil Society to mount a global campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel. We do this in the same spirit that the people and nations of the planet united to end the apartheid regime in South Africa, by applying non-violent economic sanctions of such magnitude that the offending state has no alternative for its economic survival other than to end its inhumane and unjust practices. We believe there is no one way to engage in boycott, divestment, and sanction practices and that the range of potentially effective actions is limited only by the imagination and commitment of those who advance their strategies and call.”
Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)
A group of Jews in Canada
“Whereas there will be no lasting peace without implementation of international law, United Nations resolutions and respect for the human rights of both Palestinians and Jewish-Israelis [...] Therefore be it resolved that Independent Jewish Voices will [...] Support the Palestinian call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and complies with the precepts of international law, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”
Breaking the Law of Return
Over 100 Jews from the United States
“Today there is a growing transnational movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, called for by Palestinian civil society and supported by activists, artists, and academics around the world, including an increasing number of conscientious Israelis. As part of this campaign, we pledge to boycott the “law of return.” As an act of political and ideological divestment, we repudiate the claims the State of Israel makes on us as potential citizens.”
Canadian award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist, author
“There is a debate among Jews [...] about whether the lesson of the Holocaust should be ‘never again to anyone’, or ‘never again to us.’ […] it is precisely because of what we experienced as Jews that we must denounce racism, denounce systems of segregation wherever they crop up, even and especially when they crop up amongst our own.”
” [..] part of the reason why there is so little interest in peace within Israel – [there are] two reasons: one is the fact that it is possible to live a relatively normal, fun life in Israel; and the other is that Israeli companies are not feeling the pinch from war.”
” […] Everything would be fine if we used words that barely register and tactics that barely worked… But we are here to reject that. We are here to use language that resonates and reaches people. And we want to use tactics that actually work.”
American post-structuralist feminist philosopher
“The idea is that we cannot participate in cultural institutions that act as if there is no occupation or that refuse to take a clear and strong stand against the occupation and dedicate their activities to its undoing”.
“One cannot ‘set aside’ the radical impoverishment, the malnutrition, the limits on mobility […] the exercise of state violence in both Gaza and the West Bank and talk about other matters in public [when visiting Israel]. If one were to talk about other matters, then one is actively engaged in producing a limited public sphere of discourse which has the repression and, hence, continuation of violence as its aim.”
Novelist and Professor in the City University of New York
“In November 2009 I had the honour of being invited to keynote the Tel Aviv LGBT studies conference, and very much wanted to attend. However, when I learned that it was being held at Tel Aviv University, I decided to instead go on a solidarity visit to anti-Occupation venues in Israel as well as meeting with Palestinian LGBT groups in the West Bank. LGBT audiences came to alternative venues to speak with me, so I was able to dialogue with queer audiences without undermining the Boycott. Although it took a lot of conversation and thought before I decided to participate in Boycott in this way, the trip convinced me that this was the right decision.
“LGBT people in Israel and Palestine are deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement, and they need and want our support of Boycott and Sanctions. I participated in a demonstration against the Wall in Bilin, and easily half of the Israelis supporting the Palestinian villagers were queer. The “Boycott Me” movement among Israeli academics is growing. I met with two different Palestinian LGBT organizations who clearly articulate the relationship between LGBT liberation and the Boycott and want and need our help. Economic pressure – on the model of the South Africa Divestment Movement- is the primary popular strategy for change in Israel and Palestine. American students are now increasingly involved in getting their schools to divest, and the LGBT community can be a dynamic force in this effort. Through conversation and thought, the LGBT community will expand our freedom visions to include Palestinians human rights.”
Detroit based Hip-Hop artist
“Israel– you should be ashamed \ Kill and maim 1,000′s of civilians in our name \ Claim you hitting terrorists but children in your aim \ Even murder relief workers blood spilling from they brain \ While they tried to drive the ambulance, damn they couldn’t stand a chance \ Even bomb students, hospitals, mosques, Rafah, and Khan Yunis \ Shot em in the back like the cops to Oscar Grant… \ And in each case the good ol’ united states sponsored that \ 7 million a day that we pay tax and AIPAC’s lobbyists is robbin us \ Sometimes it feels like they’re ain’t no stopping this \ BUT now no body can deny it cuz you made it too obvious \ Naked truth exposed like the emperor’s clothes \ The struggles getting hotter and the temperature rose \ Since 1948 when you formed the state \ Palestinian people still defending their homes \ They aint been surrendering, NO \ Boycott Divest and Sanction…”
“The Emperor’s Clothes” http://emergencemedia.org/node/118
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within
Over 100 Israeli citizens and residents
“We, Palestinians, Jews, citizens of Israel, join the Palestinian call for a BDS campaign against Israel, inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid [...] We stand against all forms of racism and oppression, and support and encourage BDS actions as a legitimate political activity and a necessary a means of non-violent resistance.”
Israeli feminist and Professor of Linguistics
“I am writing to express my support of your actions toward helping the boycott movement become engulfing and effective [...] In light of Israel’s widely documented disregard for international laws exercised in our area for so many years, culminating in two recent wars against civilians in Lebanon and Gaza, it is left for us citizens of the world to attempt to hold up a mirror to Israel’s real face in the hope that it will give it a chance to choose justice and peace over occupation.”
Israeli-American film maker
“The aforementioned violations of human rights are precisely the reason why many Jews all over the world have joined the BDS campaign, a key issue for those of us who are trying to prevent violence against Israel while simultaneously countering its arrogant and aggressive policies against the Palestinians living under its rule.”
“The most provably-effective form of pressure known to us so far is BDS. Thus, BDS action does not amount to negative, counter-productive action, as many propagandists try to portray it. On the contrary, BDS action is a life-saving antidote to violence. It is an action of solidarity, partnership and joint progress. BDS action serves to preempt, in a non-violent manner, justified violent resistance aimed at attaining the same goals of justice, peace and equality.”
Israeli-British Professor of History
“We should not tire from mentioning the alternative in the 21st century: BDS — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — as an emergency measure — far more effective and far less violent — in opposing the present destruction of Palestine. And at the same time talk openly, convincingly and efficiently, of creating the geography of peace.”
Israeli Journalist, writer, founder of the Alternative Information Center (AIC)
“The BDS campaign was initiated by a broad coalition of Palestinian political and social movements. No Israeli who claims to support the national rights of the Palestinian people can, decently, turns it back to that campaign: after having claimed for years that “armed struggle is not the way”, it will be outrageous that this strategy too will be disqualified by those Israeli activists. On the contrary, we have all together to join “Boycott from within” in order to provide an Israeli backup to that Palestinian initiative. It is the minimum we can do, it is the minimum we should do.”
Professor Naomi Chazan is the President of the New Israel Fund (NIF) and a former member of the Israeli Knesset (on behalf of the center-left Meretz party). She is a remarkable and courageous woman and has openly criticised the Israeli government concerning Palestinian rights. The day after Operation Cast Lead was initiated by the I.D.F., Professor Chazan signed a petition demanding the immediate end to the attack on Gaza. She has been the victim of vicious smear campaigns by the extreme right wing in Israel. She has recently spoken in Australia about the BDS campaign and has disappointed many activists with here rejection of the BDS movement.
Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian woman and a spokesperson for Australians for Palestine. Her response to the criticisms of BDS made by Professor Chazan appeared on the Mondoweiss website on July 12th 2011.
A Palestinian woman’s response to Israel’s Naomi Chazan on BDS
by Samah Sabawi
Naomi Chazan, the President of the New Israel Fund (NIF) gave a talk in Marrickville, New South Wales, during her recent Australian tour offering a critique of the Palestinian Civil Society call for Boycotts Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Although she presented herself as a veteran Israeli peace activist, Chazan’s mission here in Australia was ostensibly to promote NIF. This is important because everything she said about BDS must be understood within the context of her mission – to gather funds and support and to convince Jews in Australia of the need to continue to invest in Israel through NIF. This clear conflict of interest makes Chazan’s criticism of BDS far less credible.
Chazan named six reasons why she believed BDS was harmful.
BDS is not effective because Israel has a very strong economy: South Africa’s economy was also booming when the boycott movement against that regime began in the late 1950s. Decades later the movement succeeded in bringing down the South African apartheid regime.
Many Israeli leaders, including Ehud Barak, Ben-Eliezer, Shimon Peres and others, have already stated that BDS is a “strategic threat;” what they mean of course is that it is a serious threat to Israel’s system of occupation, legalized racial discrimination (conforming to the UN definition of apartheid) and denial of refugee rights. We only need to look at the millions of dollars the Israeli lobby groups in Western nations including Australia are spending in efforts to “sabotage” the movement to know that it is indeed effective. The fact that Chazan focused so much on BDS in her Marrickville talk confirms this.
There is other evidence of BDS’s effectiveness.
The Deutsche Bahn withdrawal from the Israeli rail project connecting Tel Aviv with Jerusalem has been a watershed for the movement. It was the first time that a German government-owned company withdrew from an Israeli project over concerns of violation of international law. The French company Veolia’s loss of billions of dollars worth of contracts because of its involvement in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project also points to the impressive success of BDS campaigning, especially in Europe.
The fast growing list of superstars and prominent music bands heeding the boycott of Israel makes Tel Aviv look very similar to the South African resort of Sun City under apartheid. That city was a key target for the cultural boycott then.
The University of Johannesburg’s severance of ties with Ben Gurion University over the latter’s complicity in violating Palestinian rights is the most concrete victory to date for the academic boycott campaign. And, there has been sweeping trade union support for BDS in the UK, Brazil, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Belgium, India, Turkey, and elsewhere.
BDS undermines the existence of the state of Israel: The demands are clear – full equality in Israel for the Palestinian citizens of the state, an end to occupation and a fulfilment of Israel’s obligation towards the refugees. If these demands threaten to bring an end to Israel’s “existence, we have to ask what does this really say about Israel?
A state that is truly democratic and built on the foundations of justice and equality would not be threatened by demands of equality and an end to occupation. Boycotts did not bring an end to South Africa’s existence, they did not destroy it, and they certainly did not “delegitimize” whites: they only destroyed South Africa’s system of injustice, inequality and racial discrimination.
BDS is actually “a code word for one state solution” which defies the right of Israelis and Jews to self-determination: BDS does not aim for either a one or two state solution, but for Palestinian rights. One of those rights is for Palestinians to be free in their own land without the yoke of Israeli occupation and system of racial discrimination. Whether that is in one state for both peoples or two sovereign, democratic states side by side has yet to be decided. The movement is consistently neutral on this, regardless of the diverse personal political views held by its various spokespeople.
BDS is counter-productive because it entrenches the victim mentality of those in Israel who believe the whole world is against them which inevitably strengthens the right wing in Israel while weakening the left: Right now, the fanatical right is taking over the entire Israeli society, but once boycotts begin hurting Israel’s carefully nurtured public image, dissenting voices will become much more vocal, as happened in South Africa. Then, the current consensus in support of apartheid and colonial rule will crack.
BDS is against academic freedom and singles out Israeli academics: Chazan is purposely misleading in this regard. As any relatively well-informed observer must know after seven years of the Palestinian academic boycott campaign and hundreds of articles written on it, the academic boycott is institutional in nature and has therefore never targeted individual Israeli academics. BDS has consistently been directed at academic institutions because of their persistent and grave complicity in planning, implementing and justifying Israel’s violations of international law.
Chazan’s claims that Israeli academics are progressive and opposed to the occupation have absolutely no foundation. In 2008, a petition drafted by four Jewish-Israeli academics calling on the Israeli army to allow access at checkpoints to Palestinian academics and students to reach their educational institutions was distributed to all 9,000 Israeli academics in the hope that most would sign this minimal expression of respect for academic freedom: only 407 out of 9,000 academic actually did so.
BDS singles Israel out: This criticism is so often tendered that one has to ask whether Chazan and others posing it want more action on other causes or silence on the Palestinian cause. In any case, people are rising up against tyrannical regimes and seeking change in just about every Arab state in “Israel’s neighbourhood.” Some of these governments are now being subject to international sanctions, so why not Israel which has for decades defied the UN and violated international law?
An equally important question to ask here is why not advocate for Palestinian rights? Indeed, why are Palestinians being singled out as the only people who cannot be championed? We can speak out for all other issues, so it is tendentious to suggest that speaking up for Palestinian rights singles Israel out unfairly.
The principled Israeli left camp which respects equal rights for all, the UN-sanctioned rights of Palestinian refugees, and an end to colonial oppression should – and indeed does — invest its time challenging its government’s apartheid policies and oppression of the Palestinians rather than criticising the Palestinian non-violent resistance model that encompasses BDS.
Chazan’s efforts to undermine BDS need to be seen in context. At the end of the day, Chazan will go home to Israel where she is a privileged Jewish citizen with all her rights intact. She is part of and an enabler of the establishment that denies Palestinians their basic rights and freedoms, and as such, she is not in a position to be dictating to the Palestinians their methods of struggle or acting as gatekeeper for the international solidarity movements, preaching to them what is allowed and what is not in standing with the Palestinians. As in every human struggle for freedom, justice and equality, that right is the prerogative of those who live behind the walls, hindered by checkpoints and held captive to siege and military oppression.
Samah Sabawi is the Public Advocate of the Australian advocacy group
BDS is about Human Rights for Everyone.
The following article appeared on the Mondoweiss website on July 12th of this year. It describes the discoveries of a number of activists who ventured into the occupied territories to see for themselves the conditions that the Palestinian people are subject to under the Zionist regime with its illegal military rule of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza.
‘Shocked’ by tour of occupation, 11 feminists led by Angela Davis ‘unequivocally’ support BDS
by annie on July 12, 2011
The following statement is titled, “A Call to Action from Indigenous and Women of Colour Feminists.” Its 11 signatories are at bottom:
Between June 14 and June 23, 2011, a delegation of 11 scholars, activists, and artists visited occupied Palestine. As indigenous and women of colour feminists involved in multiple social justice struggles, we sought to affirm our association with the growing international movement for a free Palestine. We wanted to see for ourselves the conditions under which Palestinian people live and struggle against what we can now confidently name as the Israeli project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Each and every one of us—including those members of our delegation who grew up in the Jim Crow South, in apartheid South Africa, and on Indian reservations in the U.S.—was shocked by what we saw. In this statement we describe some of our experiences and issue an urgent call to others who share our commitment to racial justice, equality, and freedom.
During our short stay in Palestine, we met with academics, students, youth, leaders of civic organizations, elected officials, trade unionists, political leaders, artists, and civil society activists, as well as residents of refugee camps and villages that have been recently attacked by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Everyone we encountered—in Nablus, Awarta, Balata, Jerusalem, Hebron, Dheisheh, Bethlehem, Birzeit, Ramallah, Um el-Fahem, and Haifa—asked us to tell the truth about life under occupation and about their unwavering commitment to a free Palestine. We were deeply impressed by people’s insistence on the linkages between the movement for a free Palestine and struggles for justice throughout the world; as Martin Luther King, Jr. insisted throughout his life, “Justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Travelling by bus throughout the country, we saw vast numbers of Israeli settlements ominously perched in the hills, bearing witness to the systematic confiscation of Palestinian land in flagrant violation of international law and United Nations resolutions.
We met with refugees across the country whose families had been evicted from their homes by Zionist forces, their land confiscated, their villages and olive groves razed. As a consequence of this ongoing displacement, Palestinians comprise the largest refugee population in the world (over five million), the majority living within 100 kilometres of their natal homes, villages, and farmlands. In defiance of United Nations Resolution 194, Israel has an active policy of opposing the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes and lands on the grounds that they are not entitled to exercise the Israeli Law of Return, which is reserved for Jews.
In Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in eastern occupied Jerusalem, we met an 88-year-old woman who was forcibly evicted in the middle of the night; she watched as the Israeli military moved settlers into her house a mere two hours later. Now living in the small back rooms of what was once her large family residence, she defiantly asserted that neither Israel’s courts nor its military could ever force her from her home. In the city of Hebron, we were stunned by the conspicuous presence of Israeli soldiers, who maintain veritable conditions of apartheid for the city’s Palestinian population of almost 200,000, as against its 700 Jewish settlers. We crossed several Israeli checkpoints designed to control Palestinian movement on West Bank roads and along the Green Line. Throughout our stay, we met Palestinians who, because of Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem and plans to remove its native population, have been denied entry to the Holy City. We spoke to a man who lives ten minutes away from Jerusalem but who has not been able to enter the city for twenty-seven years. The Israeli government thus continues to wage a demographic war for Jewish dominance over the Palestinian population.
We were never able to escape the jarring sight of the ubiquitous apartheid wall, which stands in contempt of international law and human rights principles. Constructed of twenty-five-foot-high concrete slabs, electrified cyclone fencing, and winding razor wire, it almost completely encloses the West Bank and extends well east of the Green Line marking Israel’s pre-1967 borders. It snakes its way through ancient olive groves, destroying the beauty of the landscape, dividing communities and families, severing farmers from their fields and depriving them of their livelihood. In Abu Dis, the wall cuts across the campus of Al Quds University through the soccer field. In Qalqiliya, we saw massive gates built to control the entry and access of Palestinians to their lands and homes, including a gated corridor through which Palestinians with increasingly rare Israeli-issued permits are processed as they enter Israel for work, sustaining the very state that has displaced them. Palestinian children are forced through similar corridors, lining-up for hours twice each day to attend school. As one Palestinian colleague put it, “Occupied Palestine is the largest prison in the world.”
An extensive prison system bolsters the occupation and suppresses resistance. Everywhere we went we met people who had either been imprisoned themselves or had relatives who had been incarcerated. Twenty thousand Palestinians are locked inside Israeli prisons, at least 8,000 of them are political prisoners and more than 300 are children. In Jerusalem, we met with members of the Palestinian Legislative Council who are being protected from arrest by the International Committee of the Red Cross. In Um el-Fahem, we met with an Islamist leader just after his release from prison and heard a riveting account of his experience on the Mavi Marmara and the 2010 Gaza Flotilla. The criminalization of their political activity, and that of the many Palestinians we met, was a constant and harrowing theme.
We also came to understand how overt repression is buttressed by deceptive representations of the state of Israel as the most developed social democracy in the region. As feminists, we deplore the Israeli practice of “pink-washing,” the state’s use of ostensible support for gender and sexual equality to dress-up its occupation. In Palestine, we consistently found evidence and analyses of a more substantive approach to an indivisible justice. We met the President and the leadership of the Arab Feminist Union and several other women’s groups in Nablus who spoke about the role and struggles of Palestinian women on several fronts. We visited one of the oldest women’s empowerment centers in Palestine, In’ash al-Usra, and learned about various income-generating cultural projects. We also spoke with Palestinian Queers for BDS [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions], young organizers who frame the struggle for gender and sexual justice as part and parcel of a comprehensive framework for self-determination and liberation. Feminist colleagues at Birzeit University, An-Najah University, and Mada al-Carmel spoke to us about the organic linkage of anti-colonial resistance with gender and sexual equality, as well as about the transformative role Palestinian institutions of higher education play in these struggles.
We were continually inspired by the deep and abiding spirit of resistance in the stories people told us, in the murals inside buildings such as Ibdaa Center in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, in slogans painted on the apartheid wall in Qalqiliya, Bethlehem, and Abu Dis, in the education of young children, and in the commitment to emancipatory knowledge production. At our meeting with the Boycott National Committee—an umbrella alliance of over 200 Palestinian civil society organizations, including the General Union of Palestinian Women, the General Union of Palestinian Workers, the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel [PACBI], and the Palestinian Network of NGOs—we were humbled by their appeal: “We are not asking you for heroic action or to form freedom brigades. We are simply asking you not to be complicit in perpetuating the crimes of the Israeli state.”
Therefore, we unequivocally endorse the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign. The purpose of this campaign is to pressure Israeli state-sponsored institutions to adhere to international law, basic human rights, and democratic principles as a condition for just and equitable social relations. We reject the argument that to criticize the State of Israel is anti-Semitic. We stand with Palestinians, an increasing number of Jews, and other human rights activists all over the world in condemning the flagrant injustices of the Israeli occupation.
We call upon all of our academic and activist colleagues in the U.S. and elsewhere to join us by endorsing the BDS campaign and by working to end U.S. financial support, at $8.2 million daily, for the Israeli state and its occupation. We call upon all people of conscience to engage in serious dialogue about Palestine and to acknowledge connections between the Palestinian cause and other struggles for justice. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Rabab Abdulhadi, San Francisco State University*
Ayoka Chenzira, artist and filmmaker, Atlanta, GA
Angela Y. Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz*
Gina Dent, University of California, Santa Cruz*
G. Melissa Garcia, Ph.D. Candidate, Yale University*
Anna Romina Guevarra, author and sociologist, Chicago, IL
Beverly Guy-Sheftall, author, Atlanta, GA
Premilla Nadasen, author, New York, NY
Barbara Ransby, author and historian, Chicago, IL
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Syracuse University*
Waziyatawin, University of Victoria*
*For identification purposes only
God Hears the Cry of the Oppressed
“Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.” Exodus 22: 21 – 24
The Old Testamenst clearly teaches us that the land of Canaan is not owned by the Jewish people. Leviticus 25:23 informs us that…”“The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is Mine and you are but aliens and My tenants”. 3,000 years of Jewish tradition and 2,000 years of Christian tradition affirm that the occupation of the land of Canaan by the Jewish people has been conditional upon their adherence to the religious and ethical traditions of the Torah. These ethical traditions demand that the Jewish people treat non-Jews in a manner reflecting the very heart of God towards all humanity. No sense of arrogant entitlement to the land of Canaan is condoned by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Rabbi Moshe Sober sums up the tradional idea of the relationship of Jews to the land of Israel:
“The notion that we can do whatever we please, to any kind of temptation, or engage in any form of foolish self-aggrandizement without fear of penalty because we have an inside track to the Almighty is the plain opposite of religious faith. It is in fact an affront to the Divine, whose authority to determine the course of history we are usurping. The traditional penalty for this sin is to be sent to face a hostile world with no lucky breaks, no Divine assistance whatsoever, until we learn that only those who are performing God’s will can count on His assistance. Such blind faith is not really a faith in God at all, but rather faith in ourselves. It makes a tool out of the Almighty. It turns Him into a kind of “secret weapon” whose purpose is to guarantee our success at whatever we fancy. It is an idolatrous concept that masks what is actually an irrational belief in our own invincibility” (Sober, 1990, p. 30, 31).
Zionist ideology hardly places the current state of Israel within the confines of the conditions of their tenancy agreement with the Lord God. Rabbi Isaac Breuer (1883–1946) tells us that:
“Zionism is the most terrible enemy that has ever arisen to the Jewish nation. The anti-nationalistic Reform engages it [the Jewish nation] at least in an open fight, but Zionism kills the nation and then elevates the corpse to the throne.”
In response to the disobedience of the Jewish people in Israel with regards to the ethical demands of the Lord, God sent His prophets to warn Israel of their impending exile if they did not repent and treat the vulnerable amongst them as if they were one of their own:
“ if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.” Jeremiah 7:6,7
“ This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” Jeremiah 23:3
“You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,” declares the Sovereign LORD.” Ezekiel 47:21-23
When Israel ignored the cry of the alien in the land, God sent prophets to call them to repentance. God held Israel to account for not listening to the voice of those who were oppressed in the land.
In 2005, 170 civil Palestinian organisations (many of them Christian) called on the world to enact a program of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the Zionist state of Israel in order to bring them into line with international law regarding the human rights of the Arabs of Palestine and Israel. This BDS program is the “cry of the oppressed in the land” to God Himself. God has promised in His word that He will hear their cry and bring justice. It is the cry against the illegal occupation of the West Bank with its illegal settlements, Israeli only highways, checkpoints and house demolitions as well as the siege of Gaza.
God’s love for the Jewish people only acts to make them more accountable for their behaviour in the land of Israel, not less. They have no legitimate occupation of the land outside the ethical and religious conditions of their tenancy. It is because of God’s love for them that He resists their colonialist project to ethnically cleanse the land of Palestine. The BDS movement is the will of God for the Zionist state of Israel and as such it can not be thwarted. The quicker the Zionists, be they Christian or otherwise, come to realise this, the better for all the peoples of the Middle East.
Sober, M. (1990). Beyond the Jewish State: Confessions of a Former Zionist. Summerhill Press, Toronto.
ACTION FOR PALESTINE
Quick note to viewers of this blog: Please checkout Yakov Rabkin’s YouTube video link on the left hand side of the home page of this blog entitled “Yakov Rabkin on the root cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
I well remember the response of the South African government, and that of many western governments and conservative politicians, to the BDS campaign that was launched against it in order to end the racist Apartheid regime. The advocates of the BDS movement were described as long haired hippie communists or terrorists. Any one who did not fit that description, but insisted on supporting the BDS movement, were considered to be naive dupes who would soon find themselves taking their orders from Moscow when the end product of their campaign was realized.
The anti-Apartheid BDS movement was going to destroy South Africa and lead to a blood bath as vengeful South African blacks proceed to “push the whites into the sea”. Supporters of the Apartheid regime pointed to the fact that surrounding African nations were all brutal undemocratic regimes where freedoms experienced by South Africans were unknown. South Africa stood amongst the barbaric nations like a shining light of civilization in an otherwise dark and despairing part of the world. South Africa was an example of civilized Europeans holding the fort against the native African hordes. Sound familiar?
But the BDS campaign never planned to destroy South Africa or dispossess white Afrikaans just as the BDS campaign against Israel neither seeks to end the State of Israel or dispossess Jews from the Holy Land. Fear mongering could not save the Apartheid regime in South Africa from meeting its just fate and it will not save the Zionist state of Israel from the demand to bring full equality to all the inhabitants of Israel-Palestine.
The BDS movement has recently had some major successes around the world and it continues to slowly and steadily move towards its goals. The Zionist state of Israel could take a lesson from the regime that was in South Africa and bring an end to the occupation of the West Bank and allow full equality for all in Israel before the BDS campaign forces it to do so. Israel could come to its senses and realize that in the end the world will not allow the continuation of its colonization project in the West Bank.
The BDS campaign will continue regardless of the disapproval of the likes of Greg Sheridan, Andrew Bolt and a host of nervous politicians and their respective parties. The BDS campaign against South Africa moved ahead without them and it will do so again. Justice will come, its just a matter of the juggernaut, that is the BDS movement, continuing on its inevitable path that I believe God has set it on.
ACTION FOR PALESTINE.