FROM PALESTINE TO NYC CHECKPOINTS = TOOL OF SUPPRESSION
Fast Facts about checkpoints in the West Bank:
522 roadblocks and checkpoints obstruct Palestinian movement in the West Bank, compared to 503 in July 2010.
So far in 2011, an additional 495 ad-hoc ‘flying’ checkpoints obstructed movement around the West Bank each month (on average), compared to 351 in the past two years.
200,000 people from 70 villages are forced to use detours between two to five times longer than the direct route to their closest city due to movement restrictions.
One or more of the main entrances are blocked to Palestinian traffic in ten out of eleven major West Bank cities.
Palestinians holding West Bank IDs require entry permits to enter East Jerusalem and are limited to using four of the 16 checkpoints along the Barrier.
62 percent of the Barrier is completed, with 80 percent of the Barrier route built inside the West Bank, with highly limited access to areas behind the Barrier.
Four of the five roads into the Jordan Valley are not accessible to most Palestinian vehicles.
Almost 80 percent of land in the Jordan Valley is off-limits to Palestinians, with the land designated for Israeli settlements, ‘firing zones’ and ‘nature reserves.’
122 closure obstacles shut off the Old City of Hebron from the rest of the city.
Palestinian access to their private land around 55 Israeli settlements is highly restricted.
This information is from the September 2011 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report “Movement and Access in the West Bank.”
IDF, NYPD – Enforcing Inequality!
Join us at the Free University for Occupy Wall Street, Not Palestine: The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement to End Israeli Apartheid
Where: Free University at Madison Square Park, pool area
When:Saturday, September 22, 12 pm to 2 pm
What: Discussion of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights. Members of Global Justice will elucidate how and why this global call from Palestinian civil society groups fits within the parameters of the Occupy movement. Representatives from local Palestine solidarity groups will give an overview of the BDS movement—its goals, history, strategies, and analysis. And finally local activists working on specific boycott and divestment campaigns will highlight their successes and challenges. Please bring your questions and concerns and join us for this important discussion.
Madison Square Park is located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and 23rd and 26th Streets.
For more information about the Free University, visit freeuniversitynyc.org.
VIDEO: Although midday temperatures were close to 100 F, the NYC protest, organized by Adalah-NY, was spirited, with a choreographed divestment dance, T-I-A-A-CREF (to the tune of “YMCA”).
The We Divest day of action came as the global BDS movement enters its seventh year. To mark the occasion, Palestinian BDS activists took this look back at highlights from the movement’s rapid growth across the past two years.
In the United States, the votes on divestment resolutions within the Methodist, and then Presbyterian, churches have been a recent focal point. Anna Baltzer, in her article “The Pendulum Swings and New Era Has Begun,” analyzes the victories and challenges at the Presbyterian Church General Assembly, and Abe Greenhouse, also reflecting on the politics of representation, looks at the role of anti-divestment organizers in the vote, concluding that liberal Zionist groups J Street and Americans for Peace Now, both of which have shown themselves willing to partner with rightwing groups to fight BDS measures, are the biggest losers.
Another recent victory getting mainstream mediaattention has been Abigail Disney’s public disownment of her share of profits from the Disney family fund’s investment in Israeli company Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, which since 2009 has been the target of the Stolen Beauty boycott campaign. Disney’s disclaiming of her shares follows on a flurry of setbacks for Ahava, which Stolen Beauty campaign manager and OWS Global Justice member Nancy Kricorian just recently wrote about on this blog.
Alon Liel, the former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, also made headlines recently when he publicly expressed support for the South African policy to apply different labeling to settlement products and endorsed the academic boycott of the Ariel (settlement) University Center.
More broadly, there just seems to be more space for public discussion of what’s happening in Palestine. An image of the shrinking map of Palestine is up at a prominent Metronorth commuter platform, and Henry Clifford, whose email is on the billboard, told Mondoweiss, “I’ve been plowing this field for many years and I am absolutely astounded by the response I’ve received, and the news coverage…We’ve been begging for coverage for years. Now it’s pouring in.” He noted that CBS, Fox News, NBC and many radio stations contacting him for interviews and that “the questions were fair ones.”
And people seem more likely to see through the anti-semitism smear that is routinely trotted out against those critical of Israel. When Armin Rosen accused Mondoweiss, and specifically contributor Alex Kane, of anti-semitism in The Atlantic, not only did readers reject the claim (as evident in the top-ranked comments), but The Atlantic‘s own Robert Wright denounced Rosen’s piece as McCarthyite and issued an apology to Kane. Mondoweiss’s Alex Kane, Adam Horowitz, and Philip Weiss also issued their own response to Rosen’s smear, noting that “this [wasn't] the first time Rosen has offered himself as an attack dog. He distinguished himself during his time in a joint Jewish Theological Seminary/Columbia University program by being an especially shrill voice in the campaigns to deny Joseph Massad tenure at Columbia.” Other Columbia professors Rosen has targerted, they note, include Mahmood Mamdani and Hamid Dabashi.
Writing for Electronic Intifada, Benjamin Doherty pointed out that while the round of condemnation of Rosen’s smear against Mondoweiss is commendable, there’s still a long ways to go: Palestinians continue to be excluded from new media and don’t receive the same protection from smears of anti-semitism–as evident, for example, in how few people spoke out against the McCarthyite campaign against Joseph Massad.
Another #fail for the suppression of Palestine solidarity came in the courtrooms: a judged ruled that the five Olympia Food Co-op members who had tried to sue the co-op after it voted to boycott Israeli goods would themselves have to pay $160,000 in damages. Their lawsuit, which was backed in part by the far-right Zionist group Stand With Us and the Israeli Consulate of the Pacific Northwest, had previously been ruled to be an illegal Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Partcipation.
Plus, two more picks for further thought and inspiration:
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.)
“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.”
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:
What: A street action with songs, music, dancing, and chants calling on TIAA-CREF to divest from the Israeli occupation of Palestine
When: Tuesday, July 17, 12:30 – 2:30 PM
Where: TIAA-CREF headquarters in New York – 730 3rd Ave (between 45th and 46th Sts)
Why: Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF has made a historic decision to divest $72.9 million of Caterpillar stock from their Social Choice fund. But this is only the beginning! TIAA-CREF still invests over $900 million in Caterpillar in other portfolios. In addition, its Social Choice fund contains investments in Motorola Solutions, which developed the surveillance and communications systems for use in illegal Israeli settlements and the apartheid wall, and Hewlett-Packard, which owns the biometric monitoring system used in Israeli military checkpoints, provides data storage solutions for illegal Israeli settlements, and coordinates information technology for the Israeli Navy. TIAA-CREF also continues to hold onto its investments in Elbit, Veolia, Northrup Grumman, and Africa Israel, all of which are complicit in the illegal Israel occupation of Palestine.
On July 17, OWS Global Justice will join Adalah-NY and allies during the TIAA-CREF shareholders’ meeting to demand that TIAA-CREF live up to its motto “For the Greater Good” and divest from all its holdings in companies profiting from the violation of international law and Palestinian human rights.
Endorsed by Brooklyn For Peace; Existence Is Resistance; International Socialist Organization; Jewish Voice for Peace – NY; Jewish Voice for Peace – Westchester; Jews Say No!; New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership; OWS Global Justice Working Group; Queers Against Israeli Apartheid; Siegebusters; WESPAC Foundation; Women in Black, Union Square (list in formation).
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.
On the occasion of the eighth international Israeli Apartheid Week, the Global Justice Working Group is proud to stand in solidarity with Palestinian civil society, which has called upon “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”
These nonviolent punitive measures of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) are to be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by ending its occupation and dismantling the Wall; recognizing the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
As the Palestinian BDS National Committee recently wrote in its statement of solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, “Our aspirations overlap; our struggles converge.” The Global Justice Working Group joins with activists across the world committed to raising awareness of Israel’s violations of human rights and to linking our various struggles for justice. Toward that end, we offer this list of resources to learn both about Israel’s apartheid policies and practices and the growing global BDS movement that aims to hold Israel accountable.
Adalah-NY is an all-volunteer, NYC-based group that supports the Palestinian call for BDS through targeted campaigns and education about the the growing boycott movement and Israel’s repression of Palestinian activists. In addition to cultural boycott initiatives, it runs campaigns against Israeli settlement builder Lev Leviev and U.S. pension giant TIAA-CREF (see below).
PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel)
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was launched in Ramallah in April 2004 by a group of Palestinian academics and intellectuals to join the growing international boycott movement.
Park Slope Food Coop Members for the Boycott of Israel
This is an international boycott campaign against Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics company with its factory, visitors’ center and research center based in an illegal settlement in the Occupied West Bank.
USACBI (U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel)
Responding to the call of Palestinian civil society to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement against Israel, we are a U.S. campaign focused specifically on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions
A national coalition of more than 380 groups, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation works to end U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The coalition supports the BDS Movement and a U.S. policy that upholds freedom, justice and equality.
TIAA-CREF is one of the largest ﬁnancial services in the United States, considered to be one of the largest retirement systems in the world. This campaign aims to pressure TIAA-CREF to stop investing in companies that proﬁt from the Israeli occupation and violations of Palestinian rights.