Global security firm G4S sells off bulk of its business in Israel

December 6, 2016

g4s-domino-final_0

As reported on bdsmovement.net, the world’s largest security company, G4S, announced last week that it is selling most of its Israeli business after an effective campaign against the company, waged by the Palestinian-led, global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, caused it “reputational damage.”

“We have succeeded to push one of the world’s largest corporations into selling its key business in Israel,” said Rafeef Ziadah, speaking for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) . “Our globally coordinated campaign has had a real impact. We will continue campaigning until G4S ends all involvement in violations of Palestinian human rights.”

French multinationals, Veolia and Orange, and Ireland’s largest building materials company, CRH, have all exited the Israeli market since September 2015, mainly as a result of BDS campaigning.

“A domino effect is at play here,” said Ziadah. “Some investment fund managers are recognizing that their fiduciary responsibility obliges them to divest from international and Israeli corporations and banks that are complicit in Israel’s persistent violations of international law.”

G4S is a British security company that helps Israel run prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held without trial and subjected to torture and ill-treatment. It is also involved in providing equipment and services to Israeli military checkpoints, illegal settlements and to military and police facilities.

The international Stop G4S Campaign has cost the company contracts worth millions of dollars in Europe, the Arab world, South Africa and elsewhere.

G4S’s list of lost clients includes private businesses, universities, trade unions, and UN bodies.

Despite the sale of its subsidiary, G4S will remain directly complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights through Policity, the flagship national police training centre it co-owns, and the settlement-profiteer Shikun & Binui group.

Israel’s police operates in occupied East Jerusalem, instead of the Israeli military in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, serving as the guardian of Israel’s illegal annexation, protecting the illegal settlements, and oppressing the city’s Palestinian population.

The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights also celebrated the victory,  while committing to keep targeting G4S given its ongoing role in Israeli police training and settlement construction in Palestine; guarding the Dakota Access pipeline construction; aiding ICE and Homeland Security with immigrant deportations; running youth detention facilities and providing prison technology as part of the U.S. prison industrial complex; and other repression worldwide, as outlined on the intersectional g4sfacts.org website released by the US Campaign and its partners earlier this year.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stated:

The announcement is a victory, first and foremost, for the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, whose hunger strikes and other collective struggles inspired years of boycotts and divestments in solidarity. G4S is the world’s second-largest private employer, and was pushed into this action by the mobilization of people’s movements in response to its involvement and complicity in the persecution and torture of Palestinian political prisoners. During the campaign, G4S has lost contracts in the Arab region, South Africa, Latin America, Europe, the United States and elsewhere as a result of its involvement in the imprisonment of Palestinians.


Scarlett Johansson: Don’t Be the Face of Occupation

January 21, 2014

scarlett1

The US Campaign to End the Occupation, and other anti-occupation groups including Code Pink, have launched a campaign to encourage Scarlett Johansson to reconsider her new position as occupation profiteer SodaStream’s new “global brand ambassador.”

On January 10, 2014, SodaStream announced that Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson had become their first-ever Global Brand Ambassador. Her first act in her role will be starring in SodaStream’s Super Bowl ad, which will be aired during the game’s fourth quarter on February 2.

Scarlett happens to be an Oxfam Global Ambassador, a role that includes a responsibility to “push forward the fight against poverty and injustice.” Since this announcement, BDS activists have been urging Scarlett to consider this responsibility and end her relationship with SodaStream.

SodaStream manufactures and distributes home carbonating devices and flavorings for soft drinks. The company’s main production site is in an illegal West Bank settlement, where the company conceals the fact that its products are manufactured in a settlement by using “Made in Israel” labels. As an Israeli settlement manufacturer, it exploits Palestinian land, resources and labor and actively supports Israel’s military occupation.

In October 2012, Oxfam Italy cut its ties with Paola Maugeri over her role as a SodaStream PR Ambassador. In 2009, Oxfam International cut ties with Sex and the City star Kristin Davis over her role as spokesperson for cosmetics company Ahava, another Israeli settlement manufacturer.

Take Action

Sign Petition: Don’t Be the Face of Occupation!
Urge Scarlett to end her relationship with SodaStream.

Send an email to Scarlett Johannson
Send a message that occupation isn’t green or guilt free to Johannson through her representatives.

Oxfam Ambassador Supporting Occupation?
Contact Oxfam America to urge them to take action and press Scarlett to end her deal with SodaStream or to end its relationship with the actress to send the message that supporting companies that profit from occupation and human rights abuses is unacceptable.

Take Action on Twitter!
Sample tweets about Scarlett, Oxfam, and SodaStream’s Super Bowl ad.

Graphics to Share!
Post these images to your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social networks.

Media Coverage

SodaStream accused of using conflict bubbles
January 21st, 2014
Article in The Verge.

SodaStream: Guilt-Free Seltzer or Blood Bubbles?
January 20th, 2014
Article in New York magazine.

The Politics of Celebrity Ambassadors
January 16th, 2014
Article in The New Yorker.

Scarlett Johansson: ‘No Guilt’ About SodaStream
January 14th, 2014
Elisheva Goldberg in The Jewish Daily Forward writes that the actress should realize that “normalizing” the Israeli occupation is a bad use of her celebrity.

Criticism as Scarlett Johansson becomes new face of SodaStream
January 13th, 2014
Coverage from Al Jazeera America.

Behind the Scenes: SodaStream Unveils Scarlett Johansson as its First-Ever Global Brand Ambassador
January 11th, 2014
Video released by SodaStream.

Letters

US Campaign Letter to Scarlett Johansson
January 14th, 2014
Letter sent to the Hollywood star urging her to end her deal with SodaStream.

US Campaign Letter to Oxfam
January 14th, 2014
Letter sent to Oxfam America urging them to press Johansson to end her deal with SodaStream or to cut ties with the actress.


Six Things You Buy That Support the Occupation of Palestine

November 8, 2013

boycott_sodastreamAlex Kane, assistant editor with Mondoweiss and Alternet‘s world editor, offers the following list of “six consumer products and companies that help keep the Israeli occupation rolling along. All of them have been targeted by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led international campaign to isolate Israel for its violations of international law. BDS groups have called on consumers to boycott these products as a way of sending an economic signal to Israel.”

6 Things You Buy That Help Support Israeli Brutality
AlterNet [1] / By Alex Kane [2]

When tax time rolls around each year, every American citizen gives $21.59 in military aid to Israel, according to the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation [3]. But that’s not the only way American citizens contribute to the Israeli military, which has occupied Palestinian land for 46 years, and the West Bank settlement project that accompanies the occupation.

Consumers may not know it, but buying products like Sabra hummus and Sodastream helps fuel Israel’s military control over Palestinians. Some companies have factories located in one of the 125 officially recognized settlements in occupied Palestine, which are illegal under international law. Other companies contribute to the maintenance of an occupation through cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), whose main goal is to protect illegal settlements and exercise dominion over the lives of millions of Palestinians. Buying these products gives profits to companies who exploit Palestinian land and resources. Read the rest of this entry »


Today! March 8 Israeli Apartheid Week Events

March 8, 2012

Occupy the Occupation!
Corporations, Profit and the Israeli Occupation of Palestine
IAW 2012 keynote by Dalit Baum
Thursday, March 8 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Engineering, Teaching and Learning Complex (ETLC) Room E 2-002
East of 116 Street between 91 and 92 Avenues

(Click here for map)

Help us spread the word! Invite your friends to the Facebook event.

Who has a financial stake in the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine? The talk will provide an introduction to the economy of the Israeli occupation, with a focus on corporate complicity and accountability. Can the 99% influence these economic interests to isolate and weaken the 44-year-old occupation of Palestine? Using examples of economic activism initiatives from all around the world we will discuss this emerging new global movement, its strategies and goals.

Dalit Baum, Ph.D., is a co-founder of Who Profits from the Occupation, an activist research initiative of the Coalition of Women for Peace In Israel. During the last five years, Who Profits has become a vital resource for dozens of campaigns around the world, providing information about corporate complicity in the occupation of Palestine.

Dalit is a feminist scholar and teacher in Israel, who has been teaching about militarism and about the global economy from a feminist perspective in Israeli universities. As a feminist/ queer activist, she has been active with various groups in the Israeli anti-occupation and democratization movement, including Black Laundry, Boycott from Within, Zochrot, Anarchists against the Wall and Women in Black.

This year she works out of San Francisco as the regional program coordinator of the Middle East program of AFSC – the American Friends Service Committee- and with the Economic Activism for Palestine Program of Global Exchange, which supports corporate accountability campaigns in the U.S.

Supported by the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG) and Global Exchange. Also presented as part of Feminist Edmonton’s Feminist Week.

Getting to ETLC:

If you are driving to campus, the most convenient place to park is the Windsor Car Park, located on 116 Street, just north of 92 Avenue. The Engineering Teaching and Learning Complex (ETLC) is located just south of Windsor Car Park.


Dalit Baum Interview in Vue Weekly

March 4, 2012

This week’s Vue Weekly features an interview with Dalit Baum, who will present at next week’s Israeli Apartheid Week on Occupy the Occupation: Corporations, Profit and the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, Thursday, March 8 (7:00 – 9:00 pm) at the Engineering, Teaching and Learning Complex (ETLC) Room E 2-002 (East of 116 Street between 91 and 92 Avenues, U of A Campus).

Who profits?
Activist Dalit Baum will discuss the financial side of Israel’s occupation

Bryan Birtles / bryan@vueweekly.com

When the call from Palestinian civil society came out in 2005 for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against illegal Israeli settlements, a big piece of the puzzle was missing: not a lot of people knew what kind of products were being manufactured in the settlements, nor which companies were profiting by having their products utilized to facilitate the illegal occupation of Palestine.

Enter Dalit Baum, who will deliver one of the keynote speeches at this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week in Edmonton. Her work with Who Profits from the Occupation, a research initiative she co-founded in Israel, as well as her more recent work in the United States with the economic activism for Palestine program at San Francisco’s Global Exchange, provides context and information about which companies are making money through the systematic discrimination of Palestinians. This research helps inform campaigns all over the world, dealing with issues far beyond the occupation of Palestine.

“The same corporations that limit civil liberties [in Israel] are the same corporations that manufacture tear gas used on the Occupy demonstrators are the same corporations involved with the privatization of prisons [in the US],” explains Baum of the scope of her research. “It’s not just about educating people about what’s going on in Palestine, it’s way beyond that.”

These campaigns are having an effect, says Baum, and their successes are threefold. Not only has the BDS campaign built a worldwide network of activists able to put pressure onto a corporation from a number of different angles, it has also forced Israelis to take a hard look at the policies of their government, as every new boycott becomes big news inside the country. Perhaps most importantly, the BDS campaign is having an effect on the ground, in the illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

“If you look at the settlement industry and the production in settlements, it’s failing,” Baum says. “We have a series of big corporations that have announced they will pull their production from these sites because they’re afraid of litigation, because it’s illegal according to international law, because they don’t want to be involved in something viewed so unfavourably in Europe and they have business in Europe, because of all these reasons. We are building a movement that is not only relevant locally but also has some traction and effect on the ground. We didn’t have that before.”

As a queer activist in addition to an anti-Apartheid activist, “pinkwashing” is something Baum has dealt with for years. Seeking to discredit the anti-Apartheid movement, opponents will call Israel “the only democracy” in the Middle East or proclaim it the only country in the region with respect for gay rights. Baum rejects these arguments as propaganda.

“Why all of a sudden do you care about gay and lesbian Palestinians when you don’t care about them any other day of the week?” she asks rhetorically. “It’s preposterous how this is used as a form of propaganda … when people hear how Israel actually treats, for example, queer Palestinian youth looking for asylum—they don’t give these people any kind of asylum.

“There’s seven million Israeli citizens and then four million Palestinians who have no civil rights but are controlled by the same government—that’s a very flawed democracy.”


Suggested Voting in MEC Board Election 2011

March 16, 2011

For the past two weeks PSN supporters have been emailing the 10 candidates running for the Mountain Equipment Co-op board of directors to ask their position on ending MEC sourcing from Israeli companies, in line with the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). We believe that having progressive candidates who are willing to consider ending MEC’s “partnerships” on the board is one important element in the Canada-wide campaign to get MEC to stop supporting occupation and apartheid by sourcing products from Israel.

We received responses from all 10 candidates, although numerous candidates used cut-and-paste responses, some of which were identical to those they used last year. Suggested voting and voting instructions are below.

SUGGESTED VOTING

PSN endorses and encourages you to vote only for candidate Dru Oja Jay.

One of Oja Jay’s planks specifically addresses the issue of social justice and MEC’s purchasing policy. We strongly encourage you to read the entire plank, but his own summary of his position is:

1. An ethical purchasing policy worthy of its name should not consider companies that benefit from war and occupation as ethical suppliers. I will work to change MEC’s policies to reflect this.

2. For member participation to be meaningful, it has to be based on informed, open debate accessible to all members.

In his plank, Dru states, “I propose that you can benefit from war and occupation, or you can be considered an ethical supplier, but not both.”

His position on the process in making the decision is as follows:

Speaking as a candidate for the board, I don’t believe that it is the role of board members to change MEC’s policy with regard to a single country. That kind of decision needs, minimally, the support of a plurality of the co-op’s three million members.

I also believe that it is entirely legitimate for co-op members to make political decisions of this type. Few disagree with boycotts of the deposed racist regime in South Africa today, but the anti-apartheid struggle at the time was hotly contested in a great many venues. (MEC’s minutes from the 1980s are not available, but it would be interesting to learn the history, particularly given the role of the international sports community in the boycott of Apartheid South Africa.)

As a board member, I would see it as my duty to ensure that the differing perspectives in the debate were accessible to all members, with a view to facilitating an informed decision in the event of a vote.

I do, however, believe that the board has a mandate from the membership to set high ethical standards for selecting suppliers.

We are also impressed by Oja Jay’s stated commitment to encouraging democratic participation of the membership of MEC. You can read his position on other issues on his campaign website.

Other Candidates

PSN does not think any other candidate has a sufficiently strong position on the issue of sourcing from Israel, but short summaries of the other candidate responses are as follows:

Gail Sullivan stated in her answer that “MEC must continue to actively research sources for MEC production that meets our members standards and share our corporate values” while admitting she needs more information on the issue.

Anders Ourum in his response stated “A policy that excluded products made in Israel or by Israeli companies, simply because they are Israeli, would make no sense.” He did say that “if elected, all I can say is that I’d be willing to support a look at this, and some informed discussion.”

Dominique Levesque responded “I will not take position on that kind of subject for now.”

Candidates Jonathan Gallo, Shauna Sylvestre, Shawn Mitchell, Blair Hammond, Bill Gibson and Morrie Schniderman all indicated they support MEC’s current sourcing policy.

VOTING INSTRUCTIONS

You can vote until March 31, 2011 (noon Pacific Time).

All MEC members 16 years of age or older who joined the Co-op on or before January 5, 2011 can vote for up to three candidates to fill vacancies on the board, but you can vote for less than three. We suggest you vote only for Dru Oja Jay.

Complete instructions are on the MEC election website.

You will need your membership number and a PIN, which you can get online.

You can vote online or by phone. Instructions on voting by phone are available here. Mail ballots are no longer available.


Action: Thank the Bay for Dropping Ahava Products!

January 12, 2011

UPDATE from Stolen Beauty Boycott
January 13, 2011

Yesterday was quite a lively day! On January 12th, representatives of Canadian retailer The Bay acknowledged that the chain was no longer carrying cosmetics products from the Israeli company Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, but said the “de-listing” was purely a business decision and not in response to any organized boycott. Whatever the reason for the decision, we applaud the fact that The Bay will no longer be supporting Ahava and its occupation profiteering, and we want to thank them for taking this stand (or read below on instructions on sending support emails to the Bay).

In January 2011, Canadians for Just Peace in the Middle East selected Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories settlement products as their consumer boycott target for the month. Previously our allies at Tadamon had organized protest actions against Ahava at The Bay in Montreal.

In response to the announced CJPME month-long boycott of Ahava, a local coalition calling itself “Buycott Israel” called for January 11th to be a day on which its members would purchase Ahava products. When the “buycotters” arrived at The Bay’s retail outlets, they discovered that shelves were bare of Ahava.

Will you act now and send a thank you note to The Bay’s President and CEO Bonnie Brooks, Chairman Richard Baker, and Director of Beauty Products Shelley Rozenwald?

The Bay is under pressure to reinstate sales of Ahava. Whether or not they cave, this issue has attracted press and public attention and the boycott will keep building! Please send a letter of thanks to The Bay today!

***

We have learned that in recent days Canadian retailer The Bay has discontinued sales of Ahava products and removed the products from their shelves. Canadian human rights activists, including our allies at Tadamon!, have had a campaign to ask The Bay to stop selling Ahava.

It is important that you take the time to thank The Bay for dropping Ahava. Your message of thanks is crucial as right-wing pro-occupation groups have already launched a campaign to berate and pressure The Bay to reinstate sales of Ahava. Codepink’s Stolen Beauty campaign has launched an online tool which makes it easy to send a message of support to Bay Chairman Baker, President and CEO Brooks, and Director Rozenwald. Send your message now!

You can also take the steps below to send a message of support!

1. Cut and paste the following emails into the To: field of your email program

richard.baker@hbc.com; bonnie.brooks@hbc.com; shelley.rozenwald@hbc.com

2. Enter “Thank you for dropping Ahava” or something similar into the Subject field of your email program.

3. Cut and paste the message below into the body of the email, and take a few minutes to personalize the message or right your own using the information below as a template.

Thank you for no longer carrying Ahava products. Whatever your reasons, your actions support human rights everywhere.

Ahava’s products are manufactured in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. Ahava is co-owned by two illegal settlements, Mitzpe Shalem and Kahlia, which are subsidized by the company’s profits. Ahava cosmetics are labeled ‘Products of Israel’ when in fact they are made in the West Bank.

The Dutch Foreign Minister has called for an investigation into Ahava; A British Minister of Parliament recently denounced Ahvava’s labeling practices as “fraudulent”; and the European Union recently handed down a decision that settlement products, such as Ahava, are not covered by trade agreements between the E.U. and Israel.

According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, already 42% of the West Bank is consumed by the illegal settlement network, making a viable Palestinian state impossible. The settlements, including Mitzpe Shalem where Ahava is manufactured, are an impediment to peace.

So thank you for standing up for human rights and international law. We applaud you!

Sincerely,

4. Press send!

5. Use the share on Facebook or Twitter below to share this information with friends and encourage them to contact the Bay in support of the decision to drop Ahava products.

6. For additional impact you can also send snail mail support to the following addresses:

Richard Baker
The Hudson’s Bay Company
P.O. Box 223
Scarborough, ON M1K5C1
Canada

Bonnie Brooks
The Hudson’s Bay Company
P.O. Box 223
Scarborough, ON M1K5C1
Canada

Shelley Rozenwald
The Hudson’s Bay Company
P.O. Box 223
Scarborough, ON M1K5C1
Canada