Please read an open letter to the Anti-War Movement by the members of RAHA Iranian Feminist Collective and the members of Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression
By Nancy Kricorian
Since 2009, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics firm with its factory and visitors center in an illegal West Bank settlement, has been the subject of an international boycott campaign because of its violations of international law. Ahava means love in Hebrew, but there is nothing loving about the company’s occupation profiteering. The Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott campaign scored its first big press hit a few months after launch when starlet Kristen Davis was suspended from publicity work as an Oxfam Goodwill Ambassador for the duration of her contract as Ahava’s spokesmodel. One of the other major victories of the campaign came in the September 2011 when Ahava’s flagship store in London lost its lease because of eighteen months of bi-weekly protests outside the shop.
Ahava is a privately held company. Two of the co-owners are illegal Israeli colonies—Mitzpe Shalem, where the factory is located, and Kalia, another settlement on the shores of the Dead Sea—both of which are subsidized by the company’s profits. (Approximately 37% of the company is held by Mitzpe Shalem, 37% by Hamashbir Holdings, 18.5% by Shamrock Holdings and 7.5% by Kalia.)
Not only does Ahava have its manufacturing plant in the Occupied West Bank, but it also excavates mud from the occupied shores of the Dead Sea. This sourcing of mud is forbidden under international law as ‘pillage’ and ‘plunder’ of occupied natural resources. In addition, Ahava labels its goods as “Product of Israel” when they are made in the Occupied Palestinian territories. This fraudulent labeling has been the subject of inquiry in the U.K., the Netherlands, France and South Africa.
Since the beginning of this year Ahava’s brand has been further tarnished by bad publicity and a series of international setbacks. In January of 2012 a group of prominent U.K. academics and intellectuals denounced Ahava’s collaboration in an E.U.-funded research project. In February 2012, the company lost its Japanese distributor because of controversy surrounding Ahava’s illegal practices. In April, Norway’s Vita chain announced it would no longer stock Ahava products. In May the United Methodist Church voted to boycott Israeli settlement products, and in July the Presbyterian Church (USA) followed suit, specifically naming Ahava in its settlement boycott resolution. Also in May of this year, Who Profits, a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace released a new investigative report entitled, “Ahava: Tracking the Trade Trail of Settlement Products.” Around the same time, South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry announced new labeling rules for Israeli settlement goods; Ahava was mentioned by name as a company whose goods were fraudulently labeled as “Product of Israel” when their place of origin is the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Only last week a prominent U.K. jurist presented an opinion paper stating that it was legal for the U.K. and the E.U. to ban Israeli settlement products, a position that suggests further scrutiny of Ahava’s participation in an E.U.-funded nanotechnology research project. Just a few days ago, 250 European academics released an open letter calling for the exclusion of Ahava and Israeli arms firms from E.U. funded research projects.
The Stolen Beauty campaign is a part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement in support of Palestinian rights.
Nancy Kricorian is the campaign manager for the Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott and she is a member of the Occupy Wall Street Global Justice Working Group. (She is also a New York City-based novelist.)
This just in, through +972 – Judiciary panel appointed by Netanyahu concludes: There is no occupation:
“A panel formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has concluded that Israel is entitled to settle the West Bank with Jews. The committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, claims that Israel’s control over the West Bank cannot be seen as “occupation” since no country has recognized sovereignty over the territory. Therefore, the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prevents the transfer of a civilian population by an occupying force into the occupied territory, does not apply to the West Bank. Justice Levy recommends that the Israeli government end the temporary status of the settlements and register the settlers’ control over the territory.”
In other news:
- Amira Hass reports on the Palestinian Authority’s repression of popular protest against the humiliation of PA’s obsequious security cooperation with the Israeli occupation.
- An Israeli Knesset committee has decided to extend a law exempting security forces from documenting investigations of terror suspects. This further erodes any possibility for domestic or international oversight and criticism of Israel’s treatment of “suspects of security offenses” – i.e. Palestinians.
- From the Israeli military’s perspective, the violence in Syria heralds the possibility of another war in Lebanon. According to a senior IDF officer: Israel is preparing for the next Lebanon war. One should wonder how this increased preparedness will affect the likelihood of an Israeli attack on Lebanon.
- Israeli “non-occupation” authorities in the West Bank are once again threatening the Palestinian residents of Susya with demolition and eviction, following a high court ruling. Resistance activists have been rallying to defend the village, including last week when 2 Israeli solidarity activists were arrested for spraying over settlers’ anti-Arab graffiti, which called for ethnic cleansing, with their own pro-peace graffiti, calling for the liberation of Susya. Rabbis for human rights provide some background on the origin of the expulsion in Susya.
The Israeli social justice #J14 protest movement is getting some attention from activists abroad:
- M15 Indignados have published this letter from Spain to #J14.
- Following up on some advice presented to the Israeli protest movement by fellow OWS organizer, I published this challenge to the Israeli activists: Will you stand with the Palestinians?
As we work to build bonds of solidarity between movements for justice across the globe, we are connected by common causes and by the state-repression we all suffer. One tool used to suppress dissent—from Egypt to Greece and from Bahrain to Oakland—is tear gas. As part of a broad campaign about how U.S. corporations profit from, and the U.S. government facilitates, the sale of tear gas used — sometimes lethally — to suppress popular protesters across the globe, we presented the “Popular Resistance, Militarized Repression” teach-in and published an article based on it, as well as a comic, which has been translated to Arabic.
Facing Tear Gas is a story-telling project of War Resisters League by and for people that have experienced tear gas all over the world. By making the links between these stories we hope to bring those that profit off of tear gas further into the public consciousness and, along with that, the inspiring movements the gas is used to squelch. This is part of a broader campaign to end the US’s role in the business of tear gas in solidarity with global nonviolent uprisings and those facing US-backed repression everywhere, including within the US.
Please submit your story and spread the word.
The Global Justice workgroup of Occupy Wall Street is marching to end stop and frisk because people around the world are facing an escalation of militarized policing and state repression. The occupy movement stands against the neoliberal economic order, which plunders public wealth to benefit an elite few. This power structure is overwhelmingly stacked against labor, communities of color, collective prosperity and individual freedoms, in favor of corporate profits. The racist practice of stop and frisk is one of the many racialized tactics our local police force uses to bolster the domestic socioeconomic order, just as our military maintains US corporate interests abroad.
We march because police brutality and repressive policies are nothing new to communities of color, especially to Black and Latino communities in the US. While Black and Latino males ages 14 to 24 make up 4.7 percent of NYC’s population, they accounted for 41.6 percent of stops in 2011, meaning that the same youths were stopped and frisked over and over again.
The racist logic of “guilty until proven innocent” underpins the dehumanization and demonization of whole communities, from Gaza to the Bronx. Racism is what legitimates and underlies the rhetoric of imperialism, the war on terror, Islamophobia and pro-war propaganda toward Afghanistan and Iran; racism is what drives US immigration policy, and justifies US policing methods, the war on drugs, and the legal and prison systems. We march because stop and frisk is a major entry point into a system of mass incarceration, and it is through such racist disciplinary regimes that the status quo is maintained, both domestically and globally.
As the police we see at protests look more and more like soldiers, and as the NYPD continues to target people of color and throw them into prisons and detention centers, it’s clear that a militarized police state plays a key role in maintaining foreign and domestic structures of oppression. The intensive policing of poor communities of color–those most affected by a racialized system of enforced poverty and austerity–serves to incarcerate and instill fear in those most likely to agitate for fundamental change.
People in Egypt and Tunisia, Greece and Spain, New York, Oakland, and Quebec are linked in solidarity by resistance to the depredations of neoliberalism. Opposing racist policing here is part of opposition to a global police state that protects the economic elite, the stability of empire, and the security of capital. We march against stop and frisk because just as our grievances are intertwined, so is our liberation.
A Discussion with Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression
When: Wednesday, May 16 at 7 pm – 9 pm
Where: 365 Fifth Ave. CUNY Graduate Center, Segal Theater, First Floor.
At a time when crippling sanctions and threats of war bear down on people in Iran, there is an urgent need for people in the United States to organize against these policies advanced in our name. As global solidarity between people in the United States and other parts of the world gains new momentum, how can we support grassroots struggles in Iran that oppose both outside intervention and domestic authoritarianism?
Join us for a discussion about how to rebuild an anti-war movement that is centered around people-to-people solidarity.
Video testimonies from activists in Iran will be shown.
Havaar is a coalition of Iranians, Iranian-Americans, and allies formed in response to the U.S. government’s escalating attacks on Iran and to the Iranian government’s ongoing repression of grassroots movements (http://havaar.org/)
Havaar means “cry of emergency” in English.
Ali Abdi is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Yale University. He was engaged in the student movement and women’s rights movement in Iran for five years, and participated in post-2009 presidential election protests in Iran. The Iranian democratic movement, globally known as the Green Movement, has informed his activism since then.
Arang Keshavarzian is an Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. He is currently on the editorial board of the “International Journal of Middle East Studies” and was on the editorial committee of the Middle East Research and Information Project (www.merip.org) from 2005 to 2011. His book “Bazaar and State in Iran: Politics of the Tehran Marketplace” was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007.
Bitta Mostofi is a nonprofit, immigrant rights attorney. She has also worked as a civil rights attorney and served on the board of directors of the Council on American Islamic Relations. Bitta has participated in anti-war and anti-sanctions campaigns, and was a co-coordinator for the Voices in the Wilderness; Iraq Peace Team from 2002-2003. In recent years Bitta has co-founded and worked with Where is My Vote, New York, which formed in the aftermath of the highly disputed 2009 Iranian presidential elections. WIMV-NY strives to raise the level of international solidarity with the citizens of Iran in their movement towards social justice and democratic change and to speak out against the Iranian state’s human rights violations.
Manijeh Nasrabadi is an American Studies PhD student in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. Her essays and articles have appeared in “Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” “Social Text online,” “About Face” (Seal Press, 2008), “Hyphen Magazine,” “Tehran Bureau,” “Callaloo” and vidaweb.org. Her latest article “Iran and the US Anti-War Movement” appears in Jadaliyya (http://bit.ly/KJsPFX). Manijeh is a founding member of “Raha: Iranian Feminist Collective” in New York City.
Maia Ramnath organizes with Adalah-NY, South Asia Solidarity Initiative, and the Occupy Wall Street-Global Justice working group. She is on the board of the Institute for Anarchist Studies and is the author of two recent books: “Haj to Utopia” and “Decolonizing Anarchism.” She is currently an adjunct history instructor at NYU.
Palestinian Land Day was initiated in 1976 after Israeli forces shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel and injured many more in an attempt to crush (with tear gas, among other weapons) popular protest against the ongoing theft of Palestinian-owned land. On Land Day 2012, also the global day of action for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), the Global Justice working group is pleased to share the War Resisters League’s Arabic translation of our tear gas comic, with a special preface for Land Day.
|To-do list from Nodutdol for Korean Community Development.
For years, the Gangjeong villagers have been peacefully struggling against the destruction of Jeju island, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, a rare ecosystem of profound beauty – and the source of their livelihoods as farmers, fishermen and divers. They have been lying in the road to stop construction vehicles, protesting peacefully and pressing their local and national legislators – and being arrested continually and fined horrendous amounts. The South Korean government claims the base would be a protection against North Korea, but the island is in the southernmost waters of South Korea, far from the North.
On March 5th, about 500 policemen from the mainland were brought to this tiny village by ship including 4 police squadron units and 1 unit of policewomen. As already about 200 policemen in 2 squadrons from the main land were mobilized previously, the total number of the mainland police now in the village to suppress protesters has been raised to about 700.
The South Korean government is pressing to rush this construction before the South Korean elections (general elections this April and presidential ones in December) as there is a growing movement nationally and internationally to stop this unnecessary base construction, this island destruction and the needless ramping up of militarization in the region.
We call on our allies to:
Call the Korean Embassy in your state and let them know that Jeju does not want a naval base! The militarization of Jeju Island runs contrary to its designation as the “Island of World Peace.”
1. If you live in the United States: Call the South Korean Embassy in Washington at 202-939-5600 to show your solidarity with the Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island.
2. Write the South Korean Defense Attaché at firstname.lastname@example.org and demand a halt to construction of the naval base. Explain how a base that is directed at China is the beginning of a dangerous game that does not protect the future of South Korea – it undermines it.
3. Send a message to South Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Han Duk Soo letting him know how building a navy base on Jeju will undermine tourism, threaten the fragile island environment and contribute to the destabilization of an already stressed security climate.
4. Email Jeju Island Governor Woo Keun Min and tell him how you feel about the military base that is being built on the pristine “Island of World Peace” – Demand a Gangejong village referendum so the residents voices can be heard email@example.com nine out of ten residents do not want this base.
5. Stay updated on the resistance by joining the ”Save Jeju Island” and the “No Naval Base on Jeju!” Facebook pages. Follow the most recent developments on Twitter at #savejejuisland and #gangjung – then re-post.
6. Spread the word about the inspiring resistance in Jeju! Contact the media about this story to raise their awareness about the struggle. Urge them to cover this important story of peace and environmental defense.
7. Sign the petition urging South Korean President Lee to stop construction of the military base! After signing please share the petition with your social network.
8. Send a message to the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) and tell them that the relics discovered on the naval base site should result in an immediate halt to construction.
9. Email or telephone Democratic members of the Korean National Assembly and tell them that they must stand publicly to demand that Gangjeong villagers are allowed to vote in a new referendum for or against the naval base. Click here for contact information
10. Email Amnesty International’s South East Asia chief and tell him that too many people have been imprisoned and injured in this nonviolent resistance against an illegal military base. Amnesty International’s investigation on human rights violation in Jeju is necessary and will help the situation. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Occupy Wall Street Global Justice Working Group has endorsed Occupy AIPAC to be held in Washington, D.C. between March 2-6, 2012.
Do you oppose war on Iran? Attend the Occupy AIPAC Summit and protests in DC March 2-6! Tell the right-wing Israel Lobby to stop pushing war and occupation! Register and find out more here: www.occupyaipac.org
Do you support equality and freedom for Palestinians? Attend the Occupy AIPAC Summit and protests in DC March 2-6! Take a stand against the lawless policies promoted by the right-wing Israel Lobby! Register and find out more here:www.occupyaipac.org
It’s time to end the stranglehold that K Street Lobbyists and Super PACs have on our government. Protest for a government by and for the people. Occupy AIPAC March 2-6 in DC – don’t miss this chance to make history – www.occupyaipac.org