BDS Update (November 2007 - March 2008)

 22 November 2007 - The conference was convened by the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), the OPGAI-Coalition, PACBI and the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. There was consensus among participants that building civil resistance is a priority in the current era, and that the Campaign for the Boycott of Israel can re-vitalize popular resistance and restore dignity to the Palestinian people. Work on the Palestinian BDS Campaign should be seen in this context and lead to the formation of an inclusive Steering Committee for the Campaign. Additional recommendations included:
 

1. For the local Palestinian BDS Campaign

 

 General: Palestinian employment in Jewish settlements and Israel is to be excluded from the boycott, because it is a source of necessary income that has no current substitute.

 Study Israeli products in the Palestinian market: What are they? Where are they distributed? How do they enter?
Identify Israeli products which have Palestinian (or other) alternatives and mobilize for massive consumer boycotts against them;
Mobilize pressure to prevent entry of Israeli products (e.g. put up boxes for public complaints) where local alternatives exist;
Start dialogue with Palestinian companies about ways to support Palestinian national products and expand employment of the Palestinian work force.

2. For the Campaign in the Arab World
• Seek cooperation and coordination with anti-normalization committees in the Arab world;
• Lobby for re-activation of the Arab-League boycott committee;
• Raise the profile of BDS in the mainstream Arab media;
• Encourage Arab investors to invest in the Palestinian economy;
• Promote Palestinian products in Arab countries.
3. For the International/Global Campaign
Strategy and Message
• Emphasize that the BDS campaign does not only target Israel's economy, but challenges Israel's legitimacy, being a colonial and apartheid state, as part of the international community. Therefore, efforts are needed not only to promote wide consumer boycotts, but also boycotts in the fields of academia, culture and sports;
• The Nakba-60 campaign in 2008 is a campaign for the boycott of Israel, including calling for a boycott of the “Israel at 60” celebrations.
Targets
• Select boycott targets that provide an opportunity for public education about Israel's apartheid regime.
Alliances
As work with the major (potential) allies (e.g., unions, faith-based organizations/churches, political parties) continues, give special attention to:
• Palestinian and other Arab media correspondents in the respective countries: brief them about BDS initiatives and encourage them to report them to audiences in Palestine and the Arab world;
• Support other struggles in the “global south” and struggles of marginalized communities in the “north,” and encourage links with the global BDS campaign;
 Coordination

• For the time being, use existing websites (e.g. PACBI) and lists to update about and coordinate global activities and campaigns, until a centralized BDS website can take over that role;
• For the time being, the International Coordinating Network on Palestine (ICNP) serves as (symbolic, temporary) network for coordination of the global BDS campaign;
• Participants recommend a special BDS organizers conference to be held in November 2008, in order to formalize and improve the mechanism of global coordination.

Boycott Eden Springs Campaign Update

November 2007 to March 2008, Scotland - The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) have cancelled the Eden Springs contracts at three of their offices: Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) have removed Eden Springs water coolers from their offices. Edinburgh University students won the debate at their Student’s Association General Meeting to cancel the university’s Eden Springs contract. Napier University branch of the Education Institute of Scotland (EIS) passed a motion at their AGM to call for a cancellation of the university’s Eden Springs contract.

A motion will now be raised at EIS Scotland national conference. Caledonian University Students Parliament (student’s representative council) voted to cancel Eden Springs contract - with no votes against. UNISON Scotland have removed Eden Springs from their offices, distributes information about the Eden Springs boycott through their water@work campaign and, following motion 53 on Palestine passed at UNISON national conference, supports the campaign to boycott Eden Springs. For more, see: www.scottishpsc.org.uk

Special appeal to Palestine solidarity groups in UK/Europe

Eden Springs Ltd, otherwise known as Mayanot Eden, is trying to raise credit to complete their buy-out of Groupe Danone (http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/DocView.asp?did=1000278592&fid=1725). Let us send a message to European banks that any backing they give to this Israeli company will be at a high risk because we do not want Eden Springs in Europe. Let us work together to raise the boycott of Eden Springs across Europe! Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Debate on Academic Boycott at Ryerson University

28 November 2007 - Toronto, Canada - Students at Ryerson University working through their student union (http://www.rsuonline.ca) and Students Against Israeli Apartheid (a campus network of anti-apartheid activists: http://www.caiaweb.org) pressured the university administration to hold an open debate on a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. This is the first time that such a debate has been held on a Canadian campus with the explicit support of the university administration, and signals both a major success of the anti-apartheid movement in Canada, as well as a potential turning point in the academic boycott campaign.

Students mobilized to pressure the university administration to hold this debate in response to a letter denouncing the British University and College Union’s resolution to open a debate on Academic boycott, which was signed by tens of Canadian university presidents without consulting their universities’ students. For a more detailed account of the debate, please see Justin Podur’s article at: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=14403

Largest Dutch trade union will increase pressure on Israel

 29 November 2007 – Pretoria, South Africa – [Excerpt] “If Palestinians were inspired enough by our struggle that they called for global support for their struggle, we South Africans had to take up the weapons of struggle and march at their side. If the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa was an example of how people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions, then we have no choice but to help shoulder the responsibility to abolish the apartheid that seeks to oppress and destroy the Palestinian people.”
See: http://www.endtheoccupation.org.za/Eddie_Makue_UN_Address.html

 5 December 2007, Cairo, Egypt - Arab officials have rejected a United Nations proposal to setup a regional environmental training center in the Middle East because it would include Israel.
See: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/931558.html

 7 December 2007 and 26 February 2008 - Shabtai explained that “the book event, or any other kind of exhibition in which the Israeli State is invited, is not a way to promote peace in the Middle East, and not a way to bring justice to the Palestinians, but only propaganda to give Israel an image of being a liberal and democratic society. A State which maintains an occupation and commits daily crimes against civilians does not deserve to be invited to whichever cultural week.

We cannot accept to be part of that. Israel is not a democratic State but an apartheid State. We cannot support that State at all.” He added that “there is collaboration between the European governments and Israel. The Israeli invitation is part of it. Without the help of the United States, and now the help of France, Israel could not continue such a policy against the Palestinians. This help gives Israel the green light to go on attacking and killing the Palestinians, especially in Gaza. It is very sad to see that France, Germany, European countries -which have a history of persecution against the Jews- are taking part in the persecution of the Palestinian and Muslim peoples by Israel.”
For the full interview, see: http://www.pacbi.org/boycott_news_more.php?id=A676_0_1_0_M

 13 December - Madrid, Spain - The Palestinian civil society delegation from the occupied Palestinian Territory to the Forum for a Just Peace in the Middle East, planned for December 14 to 16 in Madrid, has decided not to participate in the Forum. Coordinators of the delegation learned that due to unprecedented pressure from the Israeli establishment, a substantial Israeli delegation was undemocratically and underhandedly “invited” to participate in the Forum without endorsing the Forum’s Reference Document.

This was not only a significant breach of the key rule of participation; it was a contravention of the express will of the overwhelming majority of the International Committee, the decision-making steering committee of the conference.
For more, see: http://www.babelmed.net/Countries/Mediterranean/just_peace.php?c=2862&m=9&l=en

 15 December 2007 – Vancouver/Toronto/Montreal, Canada – The National Day of Action to boycott Chapters and Indigo bookstores is in response to their support for the execution of state-sponsored human rights violations in Israel. Pickets were organized to demand that majority shareholders Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz formally announce an end to their financial support for the Israeli military.
Letter of Support from Israelis to the United Methodist Church.

22 January 2008 - Israel - Over 100 Israeli academics have signed a petition encouraging the United Methodist Church “to divest from companies that enable the occupation to continue, we the undersigned shall applaud your courageous initiative, and fervently hope that it will set an example for many others to follow...”
For the full petition, see: http://www.petitiononline.com/Israelis/petition.html

 15 January 2008 – England - The London School of Economics Students’ Union (LSESU) noted that 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Nakba - the expulsion of the great majority of Palestinian Arabs from their homes and homeland in historic Palestine - and voted overwhelmingly to call on its university and the National Union of Students (NUS) to:
 1. Establish an LSESU campaign to lobby the school and NUS to divest from Israel and companies that a) provide military support for or weaponry to support the occupation; b) facilitate the building or maintenance of the illegal annexation wall or the demolition of Palestinian homes, or; c) operate on illegally occupied land and within Jewish-only settlements, with the goal of maintaining the divestment, in the case of said companies, until they cease such practices, and, in the case of Israel, until Israel stops its discriminatory regime and the oppression and colonization of Palestinians;
2. Actively support and work with Palestine solidarity organisations such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) , BRICUP , Zochrot , ICAHD , and PSC that campaign to stop the occupation of Palestine and to end legalized racial and religious discrimination in Israel;
3. Affiliate our Union to the international campaign to end the siege on Gaza and engage in education campaigns to publicize the injustice of Israel’s discriminatory policies against the Palestinians and its illegal occupation.
 To read the full motion, see: http://www.pacbi.org/boycott_news_more.php?id=A665_0_1_0_M

 5 February 2008 – France – [Excerpt from Tariq Ali’s letter] “When I agreed to participate in the Turin Book Fair, which I have done before, I had no idea that the ‘guest of honour’ was Israel and its 60th birthday. But this is also the 60th anniversary of what the Palestinian call the ‘nakba,’ the disaster that befell them that year, when they were expelled from their villages, some killed, women raped by the settlers. These facts are no longer disputed. So why did the Turin Book Fair not invite Palestinians in equal numbers? 30 Israeli writers and 30 Palestinian writers (and I promise you they exist and are very fine poets and novelists) might have been seen as a positive and peaceful gesture and a positive debate might have taken place. A literary version of Daniel Barenboim’s Diwan Orchestra, half-Israeli, half-Palestinian. Such a move would have brought people together, but no. The cultural commissars know best. I have argued vigorously with some of the Israeli writers visiting the fair on other occasions and would have happily done the same again if conditions had been different. What they decided to do is an ugly provocation.”

 IAW is a series of events that ran for the fourth consecutive year in early February 2008, with coordinated events taking place between the 3rd and 18th of February in 25 cities across the USA, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Norway, UK, and Palestine. The week was launched with a speech given by Dr. Azmi Beshara in Soweto, South Africa which was televised on Al-Jazeera, and broadcast to the audiences of opening night events in the other cities. The week’s events included lectures, multimedia events, cultural performance, film screenings, demonstrations, and informational exhibits aimed at raising public awareness about the apartheid character of the Israeli state, the linkages between the Palestinian struggle and local struggles in the different countries in which the week was organized, and pushing forward the campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli apartheid regime. More information can be found at http://www.apartheidweek.org

 9 February 2008 – US – Protesters in New York and London called on shoppers to boycott the jewelry store of Lev Leviev because of his support for the construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law as well as abuse of marginalized communities in Angola.

 22 February, England – Delegates of the Green Party in England and Wales agreed to back the BDS campaign launched by Palestinian groups which urge broad boycotts of Israel similar to those imposed on apartheid South Africa.

 27 February 2008 - The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has called upon all its 50 member states to boycott the Paris Book Fair. In a statement ISESCO said “the crimes against humanity that Israel is perpetrating in the Palestinian territories... constitute, in themselves, a strong condemnation of Israel, making it unworthy of being welcomed as a guest of honour at an international book fair.” The Lebanese Culture Minister Tarek Mitri announced that “Lebanon will not participate this year in protest at the cultural event’s organisers’ decision to select Israel as guest of honour.” Twenty-five Egyptian groups have announced that they will not take part, as has the Union of Algerian Writers. In Sanaa, the head of the state-run Public Book Authority, Dr Faris al-Saqqaf, told AFP that Yemen would not be participating at the request of the Arab League.

 Upon hearing that Swiss Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Walter Knutti was scheduled to head a delegation to visit the Israeli air force from 2 to 4 March, 2008, Collectif Urgence Palestine (http://urgencepalestine.ch) and Groupe pour une Suisse sans Armée (http://www.gssa.ch) undertook a major mobilization to stop this delegation visit from taking place. As a result of their efforts, the visit was cancelled. contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Edinburgh University cancels Prosor’s talk

7 March 2008 – Scotland - The University of Edinburgh called off a lecture by Israeli Ambassador to Great Britain Ron Prosor as a result of efforts undertaken by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC).

3 March 2008 – [Excerpt from letter of Ilan Pappe] “I cannot myself participate in any direct way in the Salon. I suggest that we all convene a new date outside the days of the Salon so as not be associated with its celebrations of Israel’s independence and its total denial of the Palestinian Nakba. However, I understand if « La Fabrique » and other participants would not accept this position, in which I case I will withdraw myself from the events.”
To read the letter, see: http://www.pacbi.org/boycott_news_more.php?id=A684_0_1_0_M
EJJP Calls for Immediate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli Occupation
 3 March 2008 - EJJP is a network of European Jewish groups campaigning against the Israeli occupation from ten European countries, including Germany, Italy, France and the UK. “We advocate for European suspension of the trade association agreement with Israel as a non-violent way to promote Palestinian rights and peace,” stated Dror Feiler, Chairperson of EJJP, and “this is the message we are taking to parliamentarians and politicians. Diplomats talk, but now is the time for action.”
For more see: http://www.ejjp.org/
Ramallah, occupied Palestinian territory - First Palestinian BDS Conference

 
Ilan Pappe refuses to participate in the Salon du livre of Paris

Swiss Air Force Chief Visit to Israel Cancelled

ISESCO urges Paris Book Fair boycott

Green Party votes for Israel boycott

New York & London protesters call for Valentine’s boycott of Leviev over Israeli Settlements

4th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW)

Tariq Ali Boycott Turin Book Fair

The London School of Economics Union Demands Divestment from Israel

National Day of Action in Canada against Chapters and Indigo

Palestinian Delegation Withdraws from Madrid Just Peace Forum Protesting Serious Violations of the Decisions of the International Steering Committee

Aharon Shabtai, Israeli Poet Says No to both the Turin and Paris Book Fairs

Arab states reject proposed UN eco-center for including Israel

29 November 2007 – The Netherlands – The largest Dutch trade union, FNV ABVAKABO, with over 350,000 members, sent a letter to the Palestinian Health Services Union and Public Services Union to assure the Palestinian trade unions that the union will put pressure on Israel to comply with international law. The planned solidarity conference of FNV ABVAKABO will involve more FNV affiliates and point out to the Dutch government and parliament their responsibility to hold Israel accountable for its non-compliance with international law.
For more, see: http://www.pacbi.org/boycott_news_more.php?id=A642_0_1_0_M
Address by Eddie Makue, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, on behalf of the End The Occupation Campaign in South Africa

Education

• Undertake a review of the Palestinian curriculum to ensure historical accuracy;
• Raise awareness and work with students at schools and universities to spread the culture of boycott;
• Request from the Ministry of Education to urge private schools to stop selling Israeli products in school cafeterias, and not to engage in normalization projects with Israeli organizations.
Media and Public Awareness-Raising
• Pressure Palestinian media to halt all advertisement of Israeli products;
• Organize public awareness campaigns (posters, stickers, etc.) about boycott, and request support from the local media.
Mechanisms for Campaign Building and Promotion
• Form popular boycott committees in all regions and sectors in order to: build public awareness about the importance of the campaign and the criteria for boycott and anti-normalization; initiate action and build a popular culture of boycott; and develop a response to those insisting on normalization;
• Build pressure on PA officials for ending normalization with Israel (end security coordination, rescind Paris Protocol on economic cooperation, etc.);
• Express Palestinian support for struggles in the “global south” (e.g., Africa, South America, Asia), in order to build mutual support.

 

More in this category: « Chronology of the Nakba