BDS Campaign Update (October 2009 – April 2010)
European BDS Organizations Campaigning to” Give Israel the Red Card”
7 October 2009 – 18 European organizations involved in the BDS campaign launched an effort calling on FIFA to live up to the letter and the spirit of its statutes and to seize this opportunity to prove to the world that it stands for a more just world by sending Israel an unmistakable threat of exclusion. This would be an important victory for human rights -- not only for the Palestinian people, but also for the international football community.
United in Struggle against Israeli Colonialism, Occupation and Racism Conference, Bethlehem
24-25 October 2009 – the Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI), together with the Alternative Information Center (AIC), organized an international seminar which gathered Palestinian, international and anti-colonial Israeli activists, researchers, and others interested in promoting justice for the Palestinian people. The seminar placed a special emphasis on the economic interests behind the occupation and the potential impact that the international campaigns for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) can make in promoting justices for the Palestinian people. Among other demands, the conference participants called for: firm opposition of the politics and projects of normalization with Israel in the Arab world by activating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions for Palestine campaign (BDS); emphasising the 2005 invitation extended by Palestinian civil society to conscientious Israelis to support the call for BDS for the sake of justice and genuine peace; and reinforcing a stronger and more efficient position in the Arab states and societies to defend Jerusalem, in addition to boycotting all political, economic and cultural activities complicit with Israeli efforts to Judaize and isolate Jerusalem.
Bahraini Parliamentarians Pass Law to Ban Ties to Israel
27 October 2009 – Bahraini Parliamentarians proposed new law bills entrenching the boycott of Israel. The bills include a penalty of up to five years in jail for any Bahraini who deals directly with Israel; banning any form of relations with Israel or its people at all levels - government, business or private. Penalties would include fines of up to BD10,000 and businessmen dealing with Israel, selling or promoting its products would lose their licenses for up to 10 years. The proposed law would also revive the Israeli Boycott Office, closed to make way for the Free Trade Agreement with the US, and would also ban the government by law from setting up any diplomatic mission in Israel.
Sussex University Students Vote to Boycott Israeli Goods
30 October 2009 – Following a landmark referendum, students at Sussex University have voted to boycott Israeli goods. The decision follows the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, which calls upon the Israeli state to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine. The referendum result mandates the Students’ Union to remove all Israeli produce from its stores, and review its sources for food outlets. This makes Sussex Students’ Union the first in the UK to implement a full boycott of Israeli goods through referendum. The vote was one of the largest and closest contested in the Union’s history, with 562 votes for and 450 against the boycott.
New Booklet on Palestinian BDS Campaign
31 October 2009 – The Ma’an Development Center produced an information booklet on the BDS campaign entitled “Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions: Lessons Learned in Effective Solidarity.” The booklet can be downloaded from: http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/574
French Workers’ Union CNT Joins BDS Campaign
1 November 2009 – Through the intermediary of its international Secretary, the National Work Confederation (Confédération Nationale du Travail or CNT), a French anti-capitalist internationalist union involved in social class struggles, has joined the BDS campaign. The union committed itself to take an active part in the initiatives organized in France. The CNT’s international secretary has also invited every union and federation within its confederation to sign on to the BDS campaign individually and to take concrete actions in their own field of activities (education, social work, health, culture, trade, media…) and in their various regions.
Boycott of Ahava cosmetics launched in Montreal
2 November 2009 – Members of Middle East solidarity groups Tadamon! , Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and the Québec BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Committee launched a campaign demanding that the Canadian department store “The Bay” take products of Ahava Dead Sea cosmetics off its shelves. Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories is a privately held Israeli cosmetics company that manufactures products using minerals and mud from the Dead Sea. Ahava’s products – such as Grape & Avocado Body Wash, Dead Sea Mineral Mud, and Mineral Foot Cream – are widely available in high-end department stores and pharmacies throughout the United States, Europe and Canada.
British Activists Carry Out Week of Action to Boycott of Israeli Settlement Products
9-15 November 2009 – As part of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK implemented a week-long boycott against several large supermarket chains in the UK that carry Israeli products. The week-long boycott targeted the Waitrose and Morrisons supermarket chains, in an attempt to pressure the stores to discontinue the sale of fruits and vegetables grown and processed on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The week of action came after activists tried other tactics, such as petitioning the stores to stop selling what they call ‘apartheid products’, but the stores’ managers were unresponsive.
New Orleans Middle East Film Festival becomes the first in the US to Join the Cultural Boycott
12 November 2009 – “The first two years we had a very strong presence from Israel. This year, all of the films that deal with Israel are from the point of view of the Palestinians, I was reluctant [to do that] in the first few years of the film festival, because I wasn’t doing a Palestinian film festival, I was doing a Middle East film festival -- I was trying to get a very balanced point of view... But after the invasion [of Gaza] and Israel’s refusal to let rebuilding materials in, I decided to join the international call for a cultural boycott of Israel... I know I’m going to get heat from it, but ...” –Rene Broussard, Organizer of the New Orleans Middle East Film Festival
Dutch Government to Opens Inquiry that Could Lead to Boycott of Ahava
13 November 2009 – For months, a group called the Badjassen Brigade (Bathrobe Brigades) has worked to protest against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory by holding demonstrations outside the shops where AHAVA products are sold, under the campaign title ‘Gestolen Schoonheid’ (Stolen Beauty). The action group is also trying to prevent AHAVA from developing a network of sales points in the Netherlands. The campaign has begun to bear fruit as the Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has agreed to begin an enquiry into the import of cosmetic products from AHAVA. The company manufactures cosmetics in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement on the West Bank, using minerals and mud from the River Jordan. The products are misleadingly exported under the label 'Made in Israel’.
BNC Calls on Arab States to Cancel Deals with Veolia and Alstom
16 November 2009 – The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) held a press conference releasing information on the illegality of the Jerusalem Light Rail project, and the role that the French companies Veolia and Alstom have been contracted to fulfil in the construction and management of the rail project. At the press conference, the BNC called on Arab states to cut any relations with these two companies until they divest from the rail project. In particular, the BNC called on Saudi Arabia to disqualify the companies from the bidding on the multi-million dollar Mecca-Medina railway contract.
Palestinian Trade Union Movement Unanimously Confirms Support for BDS
25 November 2009 – In reaction to reports alleging that a Palestinian trade union official has stated his reservations about the Palestinian civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), the full spectrum of the Palestinian trade union movement issued public statements expressing solid and inequivocal support for the BDS National Committee (BNC) and for the global BDS campaign against Israel as an effective form of resisting its military occupation, war crimes and apartheid policies.
US Trade Unionists Call on AFL-CIO President to Boycott Israel
4 December 2009 – Thirty-three prominent US trade unionists issued an open letter to Richard Trumka, President of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which represents 11 million workers. The letter came as a response to a speech by Trumka in which he denounced the BDS campaign, and stated that US trade unions must “divest from State of Israel Bonds; support workers’ refusal to handle Israeli cargo; break ties with the racist Histadrut; and oppose U.S. military and economic aid for Israel.”
French Appeals Court Confirms Jurisdiction over Alstom Case
17 December 2009 - The Court of Appeal of Versailles confirmed the jurisdiction of the Tribunal of Nanterre regarding the legal claim brought by the Association of French-Palestinian Solidarity (AFPS) against Véolia transport, Alstom and Alstom transport regarding the construction and operation of the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project.
European Owned Israeli Bank Stops Cuts Funding to Settlements
1 December 2009 – The parent bank of Dexia Bank, owned by French and Belgian interests, notified regional councils in the West Bank that has cut off their lines of credit. The Israeli bank, which is the official supplier of credit to the regional councils, asked them to close their accounts.The Dexia Group bought the Israeli Municipality Treasure Bank and established Dexia Israel in 2001.Dexia has continued to reject anti-apartheid groups’ demands to stop lending money to settlements in Jerusalem.
“Pakistanis for Palestine” Launch BDS Campaign in Pakistan
24 January 2010 – A campaign to express solidarity with the Palestinian people was launched in Lahore under the name of “Pakistanis for Palestine.” Campaign organizers have focused initially on endorsing the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, as called for by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). The have also called upon Pakistani academics, artists, poets, writers, singers and filmmakers to join the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
Demonstration in Malaysia Calls for Boycott of Israel
24 January 2010 - More than 100 members of Viva Palestina Malaysia (VPM), a coalition of NGOs participated in a five-kilometre demonstration in Kuala Lampur in support of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. Demonstration participants wore white T-shirts bearing the words “Boikot Israel” (Boycott Israel) as part of a campaign to boycott the products of four multinational companies alleged to be strong supporters of the Zionist regime.
Danske Bank Divests from Elbit and Africa-Israel
25 January 2010 – Africa Israel Investments and Elbit Systems were added to Danske Bank’s list of companies that fail to adhere to its Socially Responsible Investment policy. The bank’s Socially Responsible Investment policy obliges it to examine the willingness of potential investments to follow international conventions in human rights and employment standards among others.The two companies have been added to the list, which contains 24 companies, based on their activities in the settlement areas of the Palestinian territories. Elbit Systems provides surveillance systems to the apartheid wall, while Africa Israel Investments has been involved in construction of Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank. Danske Bank’s move follows a similar decision from Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global to exclude Elbit last September for its involvement in the separation barrier. Danske Bank is the largest financial enterprise in Denmark.
Canadian Students at Carleton University Launch Divestment Campaign
27 January 2010 – Through months of research, the group “Students Against Israeli Apartheid” (SAIA) at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada discovered that the university’s Pension Fund currently invests $2,762,535 in five companies that are complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people. In light of these findings, SAIA has launched a campaign calling on Carleton to immediately divest from the offending corporations: Motorola, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, and Tesco supermarkets, as well as to adopt a socially responsible investment policy for all of its investments. In 1987, Carleton divested from all companies complicit in the apartheid regime in South Africa. The South African victory serves as an inspiring model for SAIA’s divestment campaign, which is the first Palestine-centred divestment initiative in Canada. Watch the video at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/630
Dutch BDS activists organize first BDS “Flash-mob”
28 January 2010 – At the sound of a whistle the whole group of activists took an Israeli product and froze, staring at the products in disbelieve that Albert Heijn (a large supermarket in Utrecht, Holland) still sells Israeli products! Other people in the supermarket were quite confused and noticed the green t-shirts saying: “Don’t buy Israeli apartheid.” The sound of a second whistle started the group to take all Israeli products in their carts and while whistling a song they all moved to the exit where the products were piled up and left with a strong message: We do not want Israeli products in OUR supermarkets. We cant do business as usual with Israel as long as it commits war crimes and doesn’t comply with international law. Watch the video at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/634
California Residents Call for Severing State Ties with Israeli Government
1 February 2010 – A group calling itself the Israel Divestiture Forum filed an initiative with the attorney general that would require state pension funds to sever ties with Israeli companies or the Israeli government. The measure would need almost 434,000 valid signatures from registered California voters to qualify for the November ballot. Under the proposal, divestment guidelines would be reversed if Israel pulls out of the territories seized during the 1967 war, or the Israeli and Palestinian governments “conclude a peace treaty that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state that is recognized by the United States Government.”
Students Outraged at Invitation of Israel’s US Ambassador to Speak on their Campus
8 February 2010 - When Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren came to talk about U.S.-Israel relations at the University of California at Irvine, dozens of outraged students attended his talk and made their objections clear. Oren was interrupted 10 times while trying to give his speech before 500 people at the UCI Student Center, where there was heavy security. Oren took a 20 minute break after the fourth protest, asked for hospitality and resumed his speech, only to be interrupted again. After the 10th interruption, several dozens students who opposed Oren’s talk got up and walked out and staged a protest outside. Watch the video at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/641
Brussels BDS Activists Impersonate El Al Flight Attendants
7 February 2010 - Eight peace activists entered the Brussels Holiday Fair and impersonated flight attendants of the Israeli airline company El Al. They handed out fake free plane tickets to Israel, which referred to the fact that El Al contributes to the transport of arms to the country (160 million bullet parts, 17 million rounds of ammunition and tens of thousands cartridges, smoke shells and fuses in 2005 and 2006 alone). Upon discovery of the action, Israeli security agents observing the Fair reacted by getting all the “air hostesses” arrested.
University of Arizona Students Launch Divestment Campaign Targetting Motorolla
15 February 2010 – Students at the University of Arizona in the USA have launched a campaign calling on their university to divest from Motorolla corporation. The students of the “University of Arizona Community for Human Rights” have been engaged over the past few months in a campaign calling on their local police department to cancel a $203,000 contract with the Motorola Corporation for radio and communication equipment. The contract was signed in 1999 and is still active today.
Israeli Apartheid Week 2010 – The Biggest one Yet
1-14 March 2010 – Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) this year was the biggest yet, having spread to well over 50 cities across the globe. Since it was first launched in 2005, IAW has grown to become one of the most important global events in the Palestine solidarity calendar. Last year, more than 40 cities around the world participated in the week’s activities, which took place in the wake of Israel’s brutal assault against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Lectures, films, and actions held during the week highlighted some of the successes of the BDS movement along with the many injustices that continue to make BDS so crucial in the battle to end Israeli Apartheid. More information at: http://www.apartheidweek.org
Dutch Pension Fund Follows Scandinavian Divestment from Elbit due to BDS pressure
19 February 2010 -- ABP announced that it had sold its US $2.7 million shares in Elbit Systems. Following a similar decision by the Norwegian State Pension Fund, Kommunal Landspensjonkasse (KLP), one of the largest life insurance companies in Norway, also divested from Elbit. The move by heavyweights Halvorsen and KLP to divest led Danwatch, the Danish financial watchdog, to add last month Elbit to its blacklist of 35 companies that are disqualified from investments due to ethical considerations. The largest bank in Denmark and a leading player in the Scandinavian financial markets, Danske Bank followed suit a week later. The bank also blacklisted Africa-Israel, a company led by diamond mogul Lev Leviev which has been involved in the illegal construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Kjaergaard noted that the bank is determining whether other companies with activities in the Israeli settlements qualify for exclusion. Danske Bank’s decision was followed by PKA Ltd., one of the largest Danish pension funds, selling its shares in Elbit worth $1 million. Other major institutional investors in Scandinavia have also excluded Elbit from their portfolios due to ethical concerns. Folksam, Sweden’s largest asset manager, responded to an inquiry regarding its investments in either Elbit or Africa-Israel, that the fund did not have holdings in either company. The two largest Dutch pension funds, ABP and PFZW are the focus of a coalition of Palestine solidarity activists, organizations and concerned citizens who are currently pressuring the two pension funds to follow the Scandinavian example and divest from Elbit and other companies profiting from the Israeli occupation.
EU court: West Bank goods are not Israeli
25 February 2010 - In a ruling touching on the status of the West Bank, the European Union high court ruled that the area is not part of Israel and Israeli goods made there are subject to EU import duties. The court stated that the EU-Israeli Association Agreement has a defined territorial scope, and that Israeli goods made in the West Bank cannot enjoy duty-free access to the vast EU market.
500 Artists Issue Statement Israeli Apartheid
25 February 2010 - A broad spectrum of Montreal artists took a standing in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and supporting the growing international campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli state. Montreal artists are now joining this international campaign to concretely protest the Israeli state’s ongoing denial of the inalienable rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated in and protected by international law, as well as Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of the West Bank (including Jerusalem) and Gaza, which also constitutes a violation of international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Read the statement at: http://www.tadamon.ca/post/5824
Historic Student Divestment Resolution Passed at University of Michigan, Dearborn
26 February 2010 – The University of Michigan at Dearborn Student Government issued General Assembly Resolution # 2010-003 which states that “the University is known to have several million dollars of investment in corporations that sell weapons, goods, and services to Israel—including BAE, Raytheon, Boeing, General Electric, United Technologies, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman, among others–whom in turn uses the weapons, goods, and services inhumanely … be it Resolved, (1) that the University of Michigan-Dearborn Student Government will lead a movement to collect petition signatures calling on the Board of Regents to form such an advisory committee, and … (2) that the University of Michigan-Dearborn Student Government calls on the Board of Regents to create an advisory committee to determine if any University investments are questionable and in need of appropriate corrective actions, and … (3) that on behalf of the students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, we will urge this committee to recommend immediate divestment from companies that are directly involved in the ongoing illegal occupation, because we deem these investments to be profoundly unethical and in direct conflict with the mission of this University.”
Russell Tribunal on Palestine calls for Sanctions on Israel
3 March 2010 – The Russell Tribunal on Palestine convened in Barcelona, Spain and issued its ruling on six questions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Tribunal’s judgments are not judicially binding but are meant to examine the complicity of the European Union in perpetuating what the Tribunal called Israel’s “policy of war, occupation, and colonization for 60 years.” The jurists were assembled from around the globe, and among theor conclusions, the jury stipulated that Israel practices a form of apartheid and that states are obliged to place sanctions on the apartheid state until it complies with international law.
Berkeley student government approves divestment against Israel
18 March 2010 - The ASUC Senate passed a bill urging the University of California to divest from companies who have supplied the state of Israel with materials used in alleged war crimes. BDS activists who pushed the bill forward described the bill as the first step in an expected long-term process to convince the UC Board of Regents to pull total investments of about $135 million from five companies currently supplying Israel with electronics and weapons, including Hewlett-Packard and General Electric. On 24 March 2010, UC Berkeley ASUC President Will Smelko vetoed the bill, and the university’s senate is expected to decide on whether or not they will allow the veto later this month.
Launch of South African BDS Coalition
28 March 2010 - A coalition of Palestinian solidarity movements joined forced to push forward the BDS campaign in South Africa. Choosing the global BDS day of action as their official launch, the coalition a “Guerilla Shopping” campaign, in which they spread awareness of the Israeli goods boycott. The newq BDS coalition includes: Coalition for a Free Palestine (CFP). These include the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC), Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSM), African National Congress (ANC), South African Communist Party (SACP), South African Council of Churches (SACC) and Cosatu’s trade union affiliates such as the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and others.
Land Day marked across the world with actions calling for BDS against Israel
30 March 2010 - As Palestinians commemorated Land Day, solidarity activists around the world took to the streets to call for a comprehensive campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international and humanitarian law. Creative and bold actions took place in London, Toronto, New York, Paris, Rome, Cairo, Melbourne and dozens of other cities around the world. For videos and report-backs from creative actions of Land Day BDS actions, see: www.bdsdayofaction.wordpress.com
Swedish pension giant Divests from Elbit
31 March 2010 - Foersta AP-Fonden, Sweden’s largest pension fund banned investment in Elbit because it operates surveillance system for West Bank security barrier. Following the lead of Norway’s state oil fund, Foersta AP-Fonden said it had banned investment in Elbit because it had built and was operating a surveillance system for Israel’s Wall.
Jerusalem Quartet Protestors Cleared of Racism
8 April 2010 – The five Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) activists who faced charges of racially motivated conduct following their protest at a Jerusalem Quartet concert were cleared of all charges. The activists interrupted a concert held by the Jerusalem Quartet – who have historical links with the IDF and are renowned cultural ambassadors for the State of Israel – with shouts of “boycott Israel” and “end the siege on Gaza”. Sheriff James Scott ruled that “the comments were clearly directed at the State of Israel, the Israeli Army, and Israeli Army musicians” and not “citizens of Israel” per se. “The procurator fiscal’s attempts to squeeze malice and ill will out of the agreed facts were rather strained,” he added.