Five ways to effectively support Gaza through BDS

Five tangible things you can do to support the people of Gaza, and the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem from the Palestinian BDS National Committee. The BNC’s statement in response to the beginning of the bombing on November 15 is also below.

As this new aggression on the people of Gaza shows, Israel will continue its belligerence and state terrorism unless it is made to pay a heavy price for its crimes against the Palestinian, Lebanese and other Arab peoples.

Palestinian civil society has called for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as the most effective way for international civil society and people of conscience around the world to show solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and hold Israel – and all complicit institutions — accountable for its occupation, colonization and apartheid. The global, Palestinian-led BDS movement has achieved inspiring and spectacular success, causing economic damage to companies that support Israel’s crimes, persuading artists not to perform in Israel, winning support from major churches, trade unions and social movements, as well as pressuring governments to take action.

Here are five BDS ways to effectively express solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and elsewhere:

1. Boycott Israel! Don’t buy Israeli goods!

Profits from exports from Israel help to fund the Israeli government and its crimes against the Palestinian people. Refuse to buy Israeli goods and tell retailers that you are doing it. Persuade friends and family to stop buying any Israeli products too!

Brands to avoid include Ahava, Jaffa oranges, Sabra and Tribe hummus and SodaStream. Continue reading “Five ways to effectively support Gaza through BDS”

Quakers Divest from Veolia and HP

Some great news on the BDS front from the US Campaign to End the Occupation:

The US Campaign is thrilled to announce that the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) has become the first U.S. national fund to divest from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Veolia Environment following concerns expressed by Palestinian rights advocates about the companies’ involvement in the Israeli occupation. At last count, FFC held investments of more than $250,000 in HP and more than $140,000 in Veolia.

Click here to thank FFC for divesting from HP and Veolia!

FFC handles investments for over 300 Quaker meetings, schools, organizations, trusts, and endowments around the U.S., with over $200 million in assets. According to the Executive Director of FFC, Hewlett Packard was dropped for providing information technology consulting services to the Israeli Navy, while Veolia Environment was removed due to “environmental and social concerns.”

The decision followed advocacy from member group Palestine Israel Action Group of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting (AAFM), which also successfully urged FFC to divest its $900,000 in Caterpillar shares in May. FFC has a “zero tolerance for weapons and weapons components” and said, “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.” Caterpillar produces and sells bulldozers to Israel that are weaponized and used to violate Palestinian rights and destroy Palestinian homes, schools, hospitals, olive groves, and lives.

The US Campaign commends AAFM and FFC, which made its recent decision, in line with FFC’s principled commitment to investment in companies that “contribute positively to a peaceful, sustainable world.”

HP maintains a biometric ID system used in Israeli checkpoints for racial profiling; manages the Israeli Navy’s IT infrastructure; and supplies the Israeli army with other equipment and services used to maintain its military occupation. Veolia is involved in a light rail linking illegal Israeli settlements with cities in Israel; it operates segregated bus lines through the occupied West Bank; and it operates a landfill and a waste water system that dumps Israeli waste on Palestinian land.

2012 will truly be remembered as a landmark year of victories in the global campaign to hold corporations accountable for profiting from Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights and international law:

Earlier this month, the dining services of Earlham College, another Quaker institution, stopped selling Sabra products in response to concerns from students and faculty about the company’s links to the Israeli army. Other campuses have de-shelved Sabra recently. BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Earlham, a member group of the US Campaign, continues its exciting campaign to convince the college to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola, and HP.

Shortly thereafter, the Student Union of the massive University of California (UC) system voted to protect students’ rights to advocate BDS on campus and demanded that UC stop profiting from Israel’s abuses of Palestinian rights. The motion passed by a vote of 12 to 0 (with 2 abstentions).

And of course, Morgan Stanley Capital Investment decided this year to remove the company from its list of socially responsible companies, prompting financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest more than $72 million in Caterpillar shares previously held in TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Fund (though the company still holds Caterpillar shares in other funds). This was a major victory for the We Divest Campaign, the largest coalition-led U.S. divestment campaign in the country, which calls on TIAA-CREF to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation, including Veolia and HP.

These are just a few of the extraordinary victories this year in the movement to end U.S. institutional support for Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. Many more are surely on the way, as many campaigns forge ahead. This Thursday, September 27, 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals will hear arguments in an appeal brought by member group Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign against the Minnesota State Board of Investment.

Let’s continue to show our support for corporate accountability by clicking here to thank FFC for divesting from Veolia and HP!

United Church of Canada approves boycott of settlement products

On Wednesday, August 15 the General Council of the three-million member strong United Church of Canada (UCC) voted to approve comprehensive policy on Israel/Palestine, including the boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. The vote was re-confirmed by members on Friday, August 17.

The policy also said the United Church policy would include “continue to identify the end of the occupation as necessary for peace in the region” and affirmed that “non-violent resistance to the occupation is justified and should be supported by all who seek and end to the occupation.”

It also calls for education and economic action directed against settlement products and directs “the Executive of the General Council to explore the wisdom of divesting in companies that are profiting from or supporting the occupation” and “requesting that the Canadian government ensure that all products produced in the settlements be labelled clearly and differently from products of Israel.”

You can read the full details of the resolution.

The policy was passed after seven hours of debate with what United Church officals said was a vote “substantially in favour” of the boycott motion. The resolution comes after the United Church released on May 1, 2012 its Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy.

This action by the UCC, Canada’s largest Protestant mainline denomination, follows moves by the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA), two large mainline Protestant Christian denominations in the United States, which both adopted boycott motions targeting settlement products at their membership general assemblies in May and July 2012.

Below is a round-up of some of the reaction and press coverage in response to this historic win for the BDS movement in Canada, and was only possible due to years of work and education carried out by people of conscience within the UCC working in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Reaction

Independent Jewish Voices commends United Church for finalizing stand against Israeli occupation

BIAC congratulates United Church of Canada on settlement boycott

CJPME: In historic vote – United Church will boycott “Settlements” and United Church approves boycott as official church policy

Canadian Friends of Peace Now: CIJA’s Outrage is Outrageous, Says CFPN (in response to the Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs’ reaction to the vote)

Media Coverage

Electronic Intifada: United Church of Canada adopts resolution to boycott Israeli settlement products

Toronto Star: United Church members vote for boycott of products from Israeli settlements

Globe & Mail: United Church of Canada approves Israeli settlement boycott

Globe & Mail Op-ed by Thomas Woodley of CJPME: The United Church boycott is in keeping with its principles

rabble.ca: Israeli settlements and the United Church boycott: Responding to three common distortions

Postmedia: United Church approves controversial boycott of some Israeli products

Huffington Post: Israel Boycott: United Church Of Canada Will Not Buy Products From Settlements

Haaretz: Canada’s largest Protestant church approves boycott of Israeli settlement products

Support University of Regina SU’s BDS resolution

The University of Regina’s Students’ Union voted at its AGM on February 1 to join the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in support of Palestinian human rights. The resolution resolved that the U of R Students’ Union:

– Recognize that the right to education is a fundamental human righttps://psnedmonton.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpht that is basic to human freedom;

– Join student organizations around the globe by endorsing the 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions from Palestinian civil society;

– Commit to identifying and divesting from companies that support or profit from Israeli war crimes, occupation and oppression;

– Affirm that students have a vital role in supporting struggles for social justice, and stand in solidarity with Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination and freedom.

While there is widespread support on campus for the resolution (URSU president Kent Peterson says, “There were actually no con speakers to the motion. There were a few pro speakers, and then it was voted upon. I believe it was passed unanimously and if it wasn’t unanimous, there might have been one vote against it.”), pro-Israel groups including the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs have predictably decried the democratically passed resolution and are calling for it to be repealed.

Prince Albert Conservative MP Randy Hoback rose in the House of Commons on March 1 and called on U of R President Vianne Timmons to condemn the move, charging that URSU had used “alarmist language” and taken “a simplistic and prejudicial view to an issue that deserves a far more mature and balanced approach.”

In the face of this coordinated backlash, members of the URSU need to know that their principled move is supported by Canadians who are concerned about human rights. Please take a few moments to send a note to URSU executives to congratulate them on their principled resolution and to indicate your support:

You can send emails to URSU at contactus@ursu.ca, and/or to individual members of the exec (phone calls are great too):

Kent Peterson (President)
(306) 586-8811 ext. 206 | president@ursu.ca

Paige Kezima
Vice President of External Affairs
(306) 586-8811 ext. 203 | external@ursu.ca

Haanim Nur
Vice President of Operations & Finance
(306) 586-8811 ext. 235 | finance@ursu.ca

Melissa Blackhurst
Vice President of Student Affairs
(306) 586-8811 ext. 212 | student@ursu.ca

Canada clamps down on criticism of Israel

A great article by Jerusalem-based journalist Jillian Kestler-DAmours on the CPCCA final report and other Canadian support for Israel, which appears on Al Jazeera.

Canada clamps down on criticism of Israel
In an affront to free speech, government committee declares that criticism of Israel should be considered anti-Semitic.
Jillian Kestler-DAmours

Nearly two years after the first hearings were held in Ottawa, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) released a detailed report on July 7 that found that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Canada, especially on university campuses.

While the CPCCA’s final report does contain some cases of real anti-Semitism, the committee has provided little evidence that anti-Semitism has actually increased in Canada in recent years. Instead, it has focused a disproportionate amount of effort and resources on what it calls a so-called “new anti-Semitism”: criticism of Israel.

Indeed, the real purpose of the CPCCA committee seems to be to stifle critiques of Israeli policy and disrupt pro-Palestinian solidarity organizing in Canada, including, most notably, Israeli Apartheid Week events. Many of the CPCCA’s findings, therefore, must be rejected as both an attack on freedom of speech and freedom of protest, and as recklessly undermining the fight against real instances of anti-Semitism.

Continue reading “Canada clamps down on criticism of Israel”

Response to CPCCA report by F4P members

An opinion piece by members of Faculty for Palestine responding to the final report of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA) appears in today’s National Post Full Comment.

Report on anti-Semitism seeks only to protect Israel
By Sue Ferguson, Mary-Jo Nadeau, Eric Shragge, Abby Lippman, Gary Kinsman and Reuben Roth

This month, a serious attack was made against free speech in Canada. A pseudo-parliamentary committee calling itself the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) issued a report calling on the federal government to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that would criminalize criticism of the state of Israel. The report claims to support free speech and open debate around the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but its recommendations aim to silence pro-Palestinian voices, especially on campuses. The CPCCA’s biased processes and dubious conclusions contradict its own argument for balanced debate, and make a mockery of the notion of disinterested parliamentary inquiry.

The CPCCA was founded in 2009. While it included MPs from all parliamentary parties, the CPCCA is not an official parliamentary committee. It nonetheless draws upon the resources and authority of Parliament, while refusing to hold open debate in keeping with due process.

The CPCCA’s mandate was to define, analyze and address anti-Semitism. However, the coalition formed its core conclusions before beginning its inquiry. Its founding documents emphasized the so-called “new anti-Semitism,” associating it with the global movement for Palestinian human rights.

CPCCA materials published prior to the hearings cited campuses as places of special interest, but provided no substantive evidence. Later, the inquiry’s findings confirmed their biases through distorted claims that pro-Palestinian events create a campus environment ripe for anti-Semitism. Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), an annual program of public talks, films and workshops supporting the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, is singled out; it is depicted as an aggressive campaign that “hijack[s] any open and honest dialogue regarding the Middle East.”

The report conveniently overlooks IAW’s value as a site of global education on the plight of Palestinians living on, and in exile from, land that is illegally occupied by Israel. The participation of Jewish students and professors in IAW is systematically ignored. So is the fact that IAW organizers focus their analysis on a critique of the Israeli state, not Jewish people. That IAW explicitly condemns anti-Semitism and all racism is similarly neglected.

The report also dismisses the testimony of campus administrators who refuted the CPCCA’s preconceived notions. To be clear, the 25 university presidents or their representatives who spoke to the panel are no friends of pro-Palestinian organizers, having previously banned IAW posters, obstructed room bookings and otherwise tried to silence criticism of Israel on their campuses. And yet, their testimony consistently denied that the “new anti-Semitism” threatens their students. Instead, they suggested debate of difficult ideas should be encouraged at universities, not censored.

Most who seriously challenged the CPCCA were simply excluded from the so-called “public” hearings. Faculty for Palestine — a network of 450 faculty members from Canadian universities and colleges — for example, was not invited to discuss our written submission despite the CPCCA’s assertion that the “new anti-Semitism” is especially concentrated on campuses. Co-chair Mario Silva explained these exclusions as follows: “I personally feel I didn’t want to give a platform to individuals who had no time for us. Why should we have time for them?” It is no wonder that Bloc Québécois MPs withdrew from the CPCCA in 2010, citing the refusal of the steering committee to hear groups with opposing viewpoints, including from organizations such as the Canadian Arab Federation.

The CPCCA is fluent in doublespeak. The coalition urges critics to commit to serious and rigorous debate, but it avoids engaging in debate. It relies on hearsay, anecdotes and cherry-picked testimony while ignoring a wealth of research countering its claims. The report asserts that IAW should not be banned, but then asks university presidents to condemn IAW and calls on government to legislate this new criminalizing definition of anti-Semitism.

Faculty for Palestine is deeply concerned by the CPCCA’s analysis and recommendations — we think it should be treated with extreme skepticism. Its conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism is inaccurate and dangerous. Indeed, the Israeli state just announced unprecedented legislation banning boycotts. If Canada accepts the CPCCA’s recommendations, we may soon travel this same politically repressive road. A commitment to real dialogue on this complex conflict in the Middle East must win out over attempts to shut down debate and criminalize movements for social change.

The authors are members of Faculty for Palestine.