gaza & boycott, divestment & sanctions

the boycott movement is gaining steam globally. it is amazing to watch. it gives me hope that people will not forget gaza. that they will be steadfast and help palestinians in gaza to remain steadfast. there is even a new rap song by invincible, an anti-zionist jew, about the boycott which you can download for free if you click this link. here is the final verse (btw: i don’t think she’s israeli; as far as i know she is american):

Look, i’m Israeli, my government’s so arrogant
War criminals who call Palestinians terrorists
For resisting extinction and occupation
Comparing this to genocide and reservations of Native Americans
Its a massacre! Kick out they ambassadors!
Divest from their apartheid like South Africa
Boycott em like King to Montgomery buses,
Show them we want peace but only with real justice
They murdering the media and witnesses left
We gonna stop shopping at all the businesses that invest
In building they settlements and gentrifying our corners
Illegal walls over there and the US-Mexico border
Build a worldwide movement til the truth is heard
And supporting the Israelis who refuse to serve
All the C.O.s who AWOL when deployed to Iraqi stations
All the people rallying while the cops are chasing
If we enlisted in the system we got an obligation
We ain’t got the patience, time to stop the occupation

Boycott, Divest, and Sanction
Til there’s right of return for displaced and reparations

and lovely, lovely mark gonzales along with the other fabulous rappers from human writes project–nizar wattad and omar chakaki–did a benefit show for gaza the other day in my hometown los angeles. they called it “get down for gaza” and all of them emanated sheer brilliance.

it is important for these voices to be heard. to be shared. to empower us to continue with our resistance work. i’ve been thinking a lot about various levels of boycott and one thing i wish i could convey to the leadership of hamas is this: to take a strong moral stand and to refuse any reconstruction or humanitarian aid from the united states or the israeli terrorist state. this is what hezbollah did in 2006. this is why boycott is an essential element of resistance. if hamas does not take this stand they will be giving israelis jobs and they will likely be overcharged for those goods. they need to force humanitarian organizations to take the same moral stand. even the palestinian authority, that bastion of normalization, is shackled with respect to funds, some of which are for gaza:

Israel is preventing the Western-backed Palestinian Authority from transferring cash to the Gaza Strip to pay its workers and others hard-hit by war, Western and Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

Setting up interim international committee that would fund, organize aid directed towards reconstruction of
The restrictions threatened to undercut the ability of President Mahmoud Abbas’ West Bank-based government to reassert a presence in the Hamas-ruled territory after Israel’s 22-day offensive, said the officials, who asked not to be identified.

The cash restrictions also underscored the wider hurdles facing reconstruction, estimated to cost more than $2 billion, in the Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million Palestinians live.

but there is good news because those who don’t normalize are rewarded. and those who do will be punished as is the case with veolia:

Today the Stockholm community council in Sweden announced that the French company Veolia who has been the current operator at the Subway’s in Stockholm County for 10 years lost the contract to the MTR-cooperation. The contracts for the coming 8 years is worth 3,5 Billion EURO and has been the biggest ongoing public contract procurement process in Europe.

Although the board for county’s public transportation ensured the decision was based on commercial factors the debate about Veolias involvement in a controversial tramway project in Jerusalem (Jerusalem light railway) has been intense in Swedish media.

The tramway connecting the Israeli west Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory has triggered discussions about Veolia’s ethical policy. Public protests against Veolia has brought the attention to the dilemma of operating public services when you at he same time are involved in politically controversial activities.

As late as the day before the decision the community council received lists with thousands of signatories from people demanding the county council to choose an operator who should not be associated with violations of international humanitarian law.

– This is clearly another sign of the importance for commercial actors not to have their brand associated to unethical behaviour, in the case of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory we can already see a trend of international companies who are moving out their operations from settlements, says Joakim Wohlfeil, at the Swedish development organization Diakonia.

likewise the movement to prosecute israeli terrorist leaders for war crimes is building, even among the some 17 israelis who are not with its state terrorism:

Anonymous self-described Israeli human rights activists have set up an Internet site detailing alleged war crimes committed by senior government officials and Israel Defense Forces officers. No known human rights organization is behind the site, whose founders refuse to give their names.

The site, www.wanted.org.il, includes “arrest orders,” complete with pictures and personal details, for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and his two predecessors, Dan Halutz and Moshe Ya’alon, former air force commander Eliezer Shkedy and others. It also explains how to inform the International Criminal Court in The Hague of when the “suspects” are outside Israel, and hence vulnerable to arrest.

in england, unlike the u.s., students are becoming incredibly active stating sit-ins at their universities in solidarity with gaza and to force their universities to not grant honorary degrees to israeli terrorist war criminals:

Students at King’s College London are staging a sit-in protest on campus over the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the honorary doctorate bestowed on the Israeli president, Shimon Peres.

In the latest of a flurry of occupations at English universities in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza, more than 100 students took over a lecture theatre in the university yesterday.

Kings students are demanding that the university issue a formal statement condemning Israel’s bombing of Gaza and revoke the honorary doctorate Peres was awarded in November last year.

the students at king’s college also have a blog where you can track their activities. and thankfully this energy is contagious as now the students at warwick university they have also staged a sit in and here are their demands from their blog:

1. Warwick University should suspend all relations with companies which supply the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This includes BAE Systems, MBDA, QinetiQ and Rolls Royce.

2. That the University donate old computer equipment and textbooks to universities in Palestine, specifically those that were partially destroyed in Gaza during the current Israeli military operation.

3. That the University fund and provide logistical support for a series of talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

4. That there be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the sit-in. This extends to the Student’s Union. Students involved should be guaranteed free movement in and out of the space.

and today at oxford university students took over a building in solidarity with gaza:

More than 80 students on Thursday took over one of Oxford University’s buildings to demand the university releases a statement condemning Israel’s recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

“Palestinians have the same rights as we do, including the right to education as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights,” a spokesperson said.

and mounting pressures for a war crimes trial for israeli terrorists like livni is already having an effect:

Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni nearly cancelled a planned trip to Belgium over concerns that the Israeli leader could face legal actions for war crimes.

this is exactly what we want. we want them to live in fear of facing up to the responsibilities for the crimes they commit. and we must keep this up. it is essential that we keep up the pressure on this and let this energy spread globally. where are the american students? why aren’t they occupying university buildings to get their university and government’s attention on gaza? i especially wonder about the new york university students and faculty in light of this recent news that sami sent me:

After months of planning and promoting, NYU has announced that it will delay the opening of its Tel Aviv study abroad site due to enrollment difficulties following military strife in the area. The program, which was slated to launch this month, will not host students until September 2009.

“Because of the conflict in Gaza and Israel and a consequent decline in enrollment that would compromise the quality of our program and its cocurricular offerings, the university chose to delay the opening of its NYU in Tel Aviv study abroad program,” university spokesman John Beckman said.

someone needs to do something at that university. something big to shut this program down. i know that most of them drank the obama koolaid, but really, the pressure must be kept up. (yes, i know he ordered guantanamo to be closed today, but that is merely symbolic: he didn’t order any of the cia secret torture prisons to be shut, for instance.) obama just delivered a speech in which he said “hamas must recognize israel” and that “israel has a right to defend itself.” no palestinians with a spec of self respect should recognize israel’s right to exist. no one should recognize israel’s right to exist for that matter. they do not. jews have a right to exist as citizens wherever the live, of course. but israel is a colonial terrorist regime and does not have a right to exist. joseph massad lays out why they don’t have these rights in his beautiful essay on electronic intifada, but here is an important point he makes, which, of course, obama doesn’t get:

The major argument here is two-fold, namely that while Israel has the right to defend itself, its victims have no similar right to defend themselves. In fact, the logic is even more sinister than this and can be elucidated as follows: Israel has the right to oppress the Palestinians and does so to defend itself, but were the Palestinians to defend themselves against Israel’s oppression, which they do not have a right to do, Israel will then have the right to defend itself against their illegitimate defense of themselves against its legitimate oppression of them, which it carries out anyway in order to defend itself legitimately.

robert fisk, commenting on obama’s vapid inaugural address noted what people here are thinking (though if read the full article i should warn you that no one here is thinking about anything close to two states or israeli terrorists’ security; they are thinking about the right of return–except, of course, for normalizers and collaborators):

It would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about. No, it wasn’t the US withdrawal from Iraq. They knew about that. They expected the beginning of the end of Guantanamo and the probable appointment of George Mitchell as a Middle East envoy was the least that was expected. Of course, Obama did refer to “slaughtered innocents”, but these were not quite the “slaughtered innocents” the Arabs had in mind.

There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he’s the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the “full partnership” Obama has apparently offered him, whatever “full” means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.

or perhaps obama should take a lesson from mark steel who correctly points out the reality and cuts through the propaganda of what really goes on here in palestine:

The worrying part about whether the ceasefire in Gaza can hold together will be whether the international community can stop the flow of arms to the terrorists. Because Israel’s getting their planes and tanks and missiles from somewhere and until this supply is cut off there’s every chance it could start up again.

The disregard for life from these terrorists and their supporters is shocking. For example Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, wrote that the purpose of the Israeli attack must be to “inflict a heavy death toll and heavy pain on the Gaza population”.

Replace “Gaza” with “western”, and that could have been written by al-Qa’ida. Maybe this is the problem: the Israelis are writing their policies by downloading statements from an Islamic Jihad website and just changing the place names. Also, if the Israelis think the Hamas rockets are as lethal as they say, why don’t they swap their F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters for a few of them?

there are so many reasons why one must keep up this pressure. the “war” on gaza may be over, but the root of the problem is not. obama’s new appointment to the region, george mitchell, will bring more of the same. in a speech he just delivered he wants the same old 2-state solution that will continue the basically 4 state reality of palestinians in gaza, the west bank, 1948 palestine, and refugees in the region and around the world. this is unacceptable.

i hate to break it to you, but foreign policy with respect to palestine is not going to change. it will be more of this same, which kevin alexander gray characterizes as follows:

When you think about it, US foreign policy toward Palestine has been a segregationist or apartheid policy. In his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, former President Jimmy Carter likened Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and its repression of Palestinian people, both within Israel and in the occupied territories, to the state of apartheid, which existed in South Africa prior to the early 1990s. Apartheid means ‘separateness.’ And there is little debate that Zionism, the official ideology of Israel, is predicated on religious and ethnic separation or segregation. A self-described Jewish state — that is, a state that operates of, by and on behalf of a single group of people — cannot also be a secular, democratic state where persons of all religious and ethnic backgrounds are treated equally. A Jewish state that has never declared its borders, that has annexed and occupied territories, flouting international law and subjecting the indigenous population to poverty, indignity, theft, torture and death, is not only a colonialist outlaw state; it is also racist. As one Palestinian gentleman remarked to me, “While blacks in America were once considered subhuman, Palestinians are not considered humans at all.”

And Israel could not have pursued any of these policies without the steadfast financial and political support of the United States. It is no secret that Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world. It receives more than $15 million every day from the United States, or $30 billion a year by most estimates. The F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters that have dropped hundreds of tons of bombs and missiles on Gaza are made in the United States and provided to the Israeli government. Every American taxpayer underwrites Israeli-style apartheid.

in south africa zwelinzima vavi the general secretary of the congress of south african trade unions (COSATU) also calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions in solidarity with palestinians:

1. All trade unions, social movements, NGOs, religious organisations and academics to support and actively participate in the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, refusing to handle anything that comes from and that goes to Israel in order to isolate it until it submits to international law and withdraws from all the occupied territories

2. We urge all companies and all shipping companies to refuse to carry any shipment of arms to Israel. Any shipping company who carries these weapons has the blood of the people of Gaza on its hands!

3. We call upon all governments to enforce international law, by refusing to recognise a country that makes a mockery of international law and the pursuit of human dignity. In this regard, they must expel Israeli ambassadors and representatives in order to ensure that we isolate it throughout the world until it subscribes to the ideals of human dignity! In this case, we salute the bold example of Venezuela and call upon all countries to emulate it.

4. We call upon international media to expose the real truth behind the war and not to hide the real issues in the name of objectivity, by projecting an image of Israel as a state under siege by terrorist, thus discrediting the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people. Balanced reporting does not mean, massaging issues and diluting the truth even in the face of insurmountable evidence against the wrong side.

5. We call upon the international trade union movement to emulate the heroic example of the Norwegian Locomotive Drivers Union, which on January 8 ensured that all trains in the whole of Norway, and all trams and subways in Oslo, stood still for two minutes in protest against Israeli invasion. In the process, they issued the following information for passengers: “Because of the situation in the Gaza Strip, the Locomotive Drivers Union in Norway has decided to demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian people. This will be organised by adding two more minutes of stoppage at the station. The same action applies to all passenger trains in Norway simultaneously. We demand the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Palestinian territory. Thank you for your understanding”. This is very inspiring coming from Europe where the tendency, even amongst progressives, is to be apologetic about Israel and condemn the Palestinian struggle as acts of terrorism

6. We call for particular focus on targeting the conservative US and British foreign policies, which requires that we work with our counterpart unions and progressive organisations in these countries to effect radical foreign policy changes in relation to the Middle East. This should include exposing the complicit role of these two states in perpetuating the violence and arming Israel, while rhetorically positioning themselves as anti-terrorists.

7. We acknowledge the progressive role of our government in relation to the situation in the Middle East, including its humanitarian support for the suffering people of Gaza, but believe that there is a lot more we can do working together. In this instance, we call for the cessation of all trade relations with Israel.

8. The Arab League must be brought under pressure to act in solidarity with the Palestinian people and limit the chances of some states openly collaborating with Israel, but to lead the global offensive for the isolation of Israel, owing to their strategic proximity in that area.

all of this is necessary and all of this must be cultivated, we must grow it. and quickly. we cannot give up on this momentum. and we must fall into the false notion that the war on gaza is over. it’s not. today, for instance, the israeli terrorist navy fired on palestinians from the sea:

Israel’s navy shelled the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, injuring seven Palestinians, including five fishermen.

Mu’awiyah Hassanain, the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry told Ma’an that Israeli gunboats shelled the As-Sudaniya area northwest of Gaza City.

He said the wounded people were taken to Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Hassanain added that rescue teams are still working to recover the corpses, many of them now decomposing, of those killed in Israel’s three-week war on Gaza.

Separately, two Palestinians died in Egyptian hospitals where they were treated for wounds from Israel’s three-week offensive.

Medical officials identified them as: Tamer Omar Al-Louh, 22, from Gaza city and Azzam Mu’awad Ash-Shafe’y, 24, from Rafah.

The death toll from the war is now 1,330, with more than 5,000 injured.

and the suffering for those families who survived has not ended. in some ways it is only beginning as al jazeera’s sherine tadros continues to follow up with the samouni family–the family who saw 30 of its members massacred by israeli terrorists. this report shows nawal samouni who gave birth to her daughter while under attack by israeli terrorists:

in light of this and many other massacres haidar eid, a professor in gaza, also continues his call for boycott, divestment and sanctions arguing beautifully about the lack of moral courage from the region and the world and connecting these massacres to the south african shapeville massacre, which was a turning point in the anti-apartheid struggle:

For 22 long days and dark nights, Palestinians in Gaza were left alone to face one of the strongest armies in the world — an army that has hundreds of nuclear warheads, thousands of trigger-happy soldiers armed with Merkava tanks, F-16s, Apache helicopters, naval gunships and phosphorous bombs. Twenty-two sleepless nights, 528 hours of constant shelling and shooting, every single minute expecting to be the next victim.

During these 22 days, while morgues overflowed and hospitals struggled to treat the injured, Arab regimes issued tons of statements, condemned and denounced and held one meaningless press conference after another. They even held two summits, the first one convened 19 full days after the assault on Gaza began and the second one the day after Israel had declared a unilateral ceasefire!

The official Arab position vis-a-vis the Palestinians since 1948, with the exception of the progressive nationalist era (1954-1970) has been a lethal cocktail of cowardice and hypocrisy. Their latest collective failure to break the two-year old Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip and their lack of action to support Palestinians under brutal military assault must be questioned.

Arabs must demand answers from the spineless Arab League because there was no brotherly solidarity shown to Gazans during the Israeli assault. There was no pan-Arabism evident in their platitudes. Some, shockingly, even found it an appropriate time to blame Palestinians for the situation they found themselves in, instead of demanding that Israel stop its merciless assault.

In Gaza today, we wonder how the expressions of support for us in the streets of Arab capitals can be translated into action in the absence of democracy. We wonder whether Arab citizens of despotic regimes can nonviolently change the system. We torment ourselves with trying to discern the means that are currently available for democratic political change. With the ongoing massacre in Gaza, and the construction of an apartheid system in Palestine (in all of historic Palestine, including the areas occupied by Israel in 1967), we know that to survive, we must have the support and solidarity of our Arab brothers and sisters. We saw the Arab people rise to that challenge and stand by us for 22 days but we did not see their leaders behind them.

Archbishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” The UN, EU, Arab League and the international community by and large have remained silent in the face of atrocities committed by Apartheid Israel. They are therefore on the side of Israel. Hundreds of dead corpses of children and women have failed to convince them to act. This is what every Palestinian knows today — whether on the streets of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank or refugee camps in the Diaspora.

We are, therefore, left with one option; an option that does not wait for the United Nations Security Council, Arab Summits, or Organization of Islamic Conference to convene: the option of people’s power. This remains the only power capable of counteracting the massive power imbalance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The horror of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa was challenged with a sustained campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions initiated in 1958 and given new urgency in 1960 after the Sharpeville Massacre. This campaign led ultimately to the collapse of white rule in 1994 and the establishment of a multi-racial, democratic state.

Similarly, the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions has been gathering momentum since 2005. Gaza 2009, like Sharpeville 1960, cannot be ignored: it demands a response from all who believe in a common humanity. Now is the time to boycott the apartheid Israeli state, to divest and to impose sanctions against it. This is the only way to ensure the creation of a secular, democratic state for all in historic Palestine.

eid’s words are the only way out: the people’s option. and the people’s option, unlike the “white man’s” option (aka the west) is liberation of palestine through various modes of resistance, including boycott divestment and sanctions. fortunately there is now a campaign for american academics to lend their support to this method of resistance. our call is now published on electronic intifada and you may visit our website as well. there is an email address for you to endorse the call.

3 thoughts on “gaza & boycott, divestment & sanctions

  1. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6604775898578139565

    Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land provides a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, zeroing in on how structural distortions in U.S. coverage have reinforced false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This pivotal documentary exposes how the foreign policy interests of American political elites–oil, and a need to have a secure military base in the region, among others–work in combination with Israeli public relations strategies to exercise a powerful influence over how news from the region is reported.

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