Open letter to the Batsheva Dance Company

Twenty organizations from across Canada have sent an open letter to the Batsheva Dance Company demanding that it ends complicity with the Israeli government by disavowing its role as an Ambassador to the State of Israel.

The open letter follows a similar initiative earlier this year coordinated by Adalah-NY in the United States, and is the latest in a long campaign to encourage the company to end its complicity with the Israeli government. In 2016, Brian Eno denied permission for Batsheva to use his music during its performances, saying “To my understanding, the Israeli embassy (and therefore the Israeli government) will be sponsoring the upcoming performances, and, given that I’ve been supporting the BDS campaign for several years now, this is an unacceptable prospect for me.”

Below is the full text of the Canadian open letter. Continue reading

Join the Open Shuhada Street Campaign

The Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements has launched its 8th Annual Open Shuhada Street Campaign, which runs February 19-27, 2017.

Shuhada Street, once the main thoroughfare in Hebron has been almost entirely closed to Palestinians since 1994 when American-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire in the Ibrahimi mosque killing 29 in worship and wounding over 100 more.

While Israeli settlers roam freely on the streets and carry arms, Palestinians homes and shops are sealed shut and families must pass through checkpoints to reach their homes. Roads in Hebron are divided in half, one side for Jews, and one side for Muslims, and Palestinians face physical daily attacks by ideologically extreme and violent settlers and soldiers.

The Open Shuhada Street Campaign takes place in Hebron and around the world annually the week of February 25th in commemoration of the anniversary of the Ibrahimi massacre. In Hebron the campaign consists of a week of events culminating in a march that attempts to go down Shuhada Street. Internationally, the 2017 campaign will focus on stopping global financier Goldman Sachs from funneling money to the Hebron Fund. Continue reading

Palestinians call for boycott of Hyundai

Palestinians are calling for a boycott of Hyundai over the company’s failure to stop its construction equipment being used by Israel to destroy their homes and communities.

An action alert released on February 7 by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) calls on people around the world “to boycott Hyundai products” and urges institutions, including investment funds and churches, to divest from Hyundai shares.

Below is the full text of the call, which can also be read on the BDS Movement website. Continue reading

Tell the FIFA president to show Israel the red card

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has launched a campaign to pressure FIFA, the governing body of world football, to take action against the Israeli Football Association for its support of teams based in illegal Israeli settlements.

The UN, Human Rights Watch, parliamentarians, lawyers, campaigners and Palestinians have all urged FIFA to respect international law. They have asked FIFA to respect its own regulations and prevent teams based in illegal settlements from participating in its official leagues.

By failing to take action against the Israeli Football Association for including these illegal settlement-based teams, FIFA is complicit in Israel’s violation of international law, and is allowing Israel to use “the beautiful game” to whitewash its war crimes and forced displacement of Palestinians.

FIFA can and should demand that the Israeli Football Association exclude teams based in illegal settlements, and suspend the association if it refuses to comply.

Tokyo Sexwale, the South African chairman of the FIFA Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine, is about to submit a report to FIFA’s president and council about improving the conditions of Palestinian football. This is an opportunity for us to pressure FIFA to take action.

Visit the #RedCardIsrael page to send your email and help promote the campaign online.

Confused about the Green Party’s position on BDS? You’re not the only one.

A great deal of confusion emerged out of the Green Party of Canada’s December 3 – 5 Special General Meeting in Calgary. In this article for rabble.ca, CJPME president Thomas Woodley tries to make sense of it all.

Green Party compromise on BDS motion offers win for everyone — and plenty of confusion

The Green Party convention this past weekend offered a win for everyone. Sort of.

The convention was held to clarify the Greens’ position vis-à-vis economic pressure on Israel for its human rights abuses. Green leader Elizabeth May was so opposed to an August resolution condemning Israel’s human rights abuses that she had threatened to resign. Influential party activists sought to preserve their August win while maintaining party unity.

A “compromise” resolution endorsed in advance by both party brass and influential grassroots activists suggested that everyone could have what they wanted. Green leader Elizabeth May got her wish to remove reference to the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, while human rights activists were able to retain strong language censuring Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians.

But even though the compromise resolution passed with the support of 84 per cent of the members, the message coming out of the convention was anything but clear. Continue reading

G4S announces end of most business with Israel

As reported on bdsmovement.net, the world’s largest security company, G4S, announced last week that it is selling most of its Israeli business after an effective campaign against the company, waged by the Palestinian-led, global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, caused it “reputational damage.”

“We have succeeded to push one of the world’s largest corporations into selling its key business in Israel,” said Rafeef Ziadah, speaking for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) . “Our globally coordinated campaign has had a real impact. We will continue campaigning until G4S ends all involvement in violations of Palestinian human rights.”

French multinationals, Veolia and Orange, and Ireland’s largest building materials company, CRH, have all exited the Israeli market since September 2015, mainly as a result of BDS campaigning.

“A domino effect is at play here,” said Ziadah. “Some investment fund managers are recognizing that their fiduciary responsibility obliges them to divest from international and Israeli corporations and banks that are complicit in Israel’s persistent violations of international law.”

G4S is a British security company that helps Israel run prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held without trial and subjected to torture and ill-treatment. It is also involved in providing equipment and services to Israeli military checkpoints, illegal settlements and to military and police facilities.

The international Stop G4S Campaign has cost the company contracts worth millions of dollars in Europe, the Arab world, South Africa and elsewhere.

G4S’s list of lost clients includes private businesses, universities, trade unions, and UN bodies.

Despite the sale of its subsidiary, G4S will remain directly complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights through Policity, the flagship national police training centre it co-owns, and the settlement-profiteer Shikun & Binui group.

Israel’s police operates in occupied East Jerusalem, instead of the Israeli military in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, serving as the guardian of Israel’s illegal annexation, protecting the illegal settlements, and oppressing the city’s Palestinian population.

The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights also celebrated the victory,  while committing to keep targeting G4S given its ongoing role in Israeli police training and settlement construction in Palestine; guarding the Dakota Access pipeline construction; aiding ICE and Homeland Security with immigrant deportations; running youth detention facilities and providing prison technology as part of the U.S. prison industrial complex; and other repression worldwide, as outlined on the intersectional g4sfacts.org website released by the US Campaign and its partners earlier this year.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stated:

The announcement is a victory, first and foremost, for the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, whose hunger strikes and other collective struggles inspired years of boycotts and divestments in solidarity. G4S is the world’s second-largest private employer, and was pushed into this action by the mobilization of people’s movements in response to its involvement and complicity in the persecution and torture of Palestinian political prisoners. During the campaign, G4S has lost contracts in the Arab region, South Africa, Latin America, Europe, the United States and elsewhere as a result of its involvement in the imprisonment of Palestinians.

Anti-BDS motion to be debated in Ontario Legislature (again)

The Ontario Legislature will once again debate a motion that seeks to silence supporters of Palestinian human rights and attempts to erroneously connect support for the Palestinian-led movement for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) with anti-Semitism.

Motion 36, presented by Conservative MPP Gila Martow, which will debated in the Ontario Legislature on Thursday, December 1, 2016 reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario should; stand firmly against any position or movement that promotes or encourages any form of hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in any way; recognize the longstanding, vibrant and mutually beneficial political, economic and cultural ties between Ontario and Israel, built on a foundation of shared liberal democratic values; endorse the Ottawa Protocol on Combatting Antisemitism; and reject the differential treatment of Israel, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

This is the second time this year that the Ontario PC Party has attempted to push through an anti-BDS motion. In May, Bill 202, failed to pass second reading and was defeated. After the failure of Bill 202, over 70 organizations released an open letter calling on the Ontario Legislature to “support the right of Ontarians to engage in peaceful advocacy for human rights in Israel/Palestine, free from defamation or condemnation from our provincial government.”

Independent Jewish Voices has already released a statement and issued a joint press release calling on Ontario’s legislators to reject the motion, stating, “This motion constitutes an outrageous attack on freedom of political expression in Ontario, and therefore should be strongly opposed by all those who cherish this freedom.  … As a Jewish organization, IJV is greatly disturbed by such efforts to manipulate the meaning of antisemitism in order to intimidate and silence critics of Israeli government policy.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario and the Ontario Civil Liberties Association have also called on MPPs to reject the motion.

You can read more in this post on the Electronic Intifada.

Update

Motion 36 was passed on December 1, 2016 by a vote of 49-5. You can read the so-called debate and see the vote breakdown.

Independent Jewish Voices said in a release that it “is deeply concerned and disturbed by the passage of the private members motion 36,” with IJV spokesperson Tyler Levitan saying, “It is outrageous for our elected representatives to publicly chastise human rights supporters, and falsely accuse them of hatred and bigotry for standing in solidarity with the victims of Israeli state violence and oppression. The so-called debate in the Ontario Legislature was little more than a slurry of lies and defamation against Palestinian human rights advocates.”

The passing of the motion was also denounced by college and university students across Ontario, the Toronto Chapter of the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel.

Read more reaction to the passing of Motion 36 at the Electronic Intifada and Middle East Eye.