building momentum against israeli apartheid

carlos latuff
carlos latuff
many of you know that it is now israel apartheid week around the world and also here in palestine (i will paste in the information about events in palestine below because the link here to the apartheid website does not seem to be updated yet). there are all kinds of things you can and should do this week–and i would say every single day–to help support this week of educational events (and stuff coming up for yom al ard at the end of the month). the palestinian boycott divestment sanctions (bds) movement created this lovely little pdf for people who want to know what else they can do. click here for the document.

and the boycott of israeli products (though, unfortunately, not american products: please, someone tell me, why/how people can be so willing to give up their lives, to fight and die in order to liberate their land, but they still cannot sacrifice the 2-3 minutes the flavor of coca cola on their tongues. seriously: i want to know the answer to this question because it keeps me up at night. it bothers me that much) is taking off in palestine, it seems. i say “it seems,” because i am very cynical about how this is being framed and who is doing the framing. it is the palestinian authority that seems to be taking the lead here, but i bet that if we went into the offices of these folks we’d find all things israeli. but if they want to coopt this campaign and push their fatah-normalizing followers to boycott too, the more the merrier. here is what was reported late last week:

Buying Palestinian products is a patriotic act of resistance which plays a major role in helping the Palestinian people stay steadfast on their land, said Head of Palestinian Presidential Bureau Rafiq Al-Huseini Saturday.

Al-Huseini spoke at a conference where the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced an initiative to support the production and improvement of Palestinian products as part of a boycott of Israeli goods as well as an effort to strengthen the local economy.

Such an action, he said, “is a peaceful means of countering Israeli settlement plans; it is also something ordinary people can easily participate in.”

The initiative aims at enhancing Palestinian products by improving quality, reducing price and increasing the ability of Palestinian producers to compete against world products both at home and abroad.

“Our vision is to have national products capable of competing in internal and external markets,” Al-Huseini said. “We also aim at strengthening consumer loyalty to Palestinian brands,” he told assembled politicians and businessmen in the Ramallah government compound on Saturday.

Palestinian minister of the Economy Kamal Hassuna said supporting national products was a moral duty, noting that the caretaker government had, from the “beginning, worked to support the private sector through new legislations.”

Head of the Union of Palestinian Industries Basim Khouri, said the union endeavored to increase the portion of national products in the local market by providing high-quality products meeting international standards at competitive prices.

Representative of the Palestinian investment fund Jamal Haddad described supporting national products as a pillar of the Palestinian resistance against occupation because it frees the Palestinian people from dependence on Israeli products and supports local business owners.

and for those of you who think that making responsible choices when you go shopping doesn’t have an effect on the israeli terrorist regime, think again and read what shir hever has to say about it:

Although the Israeli economic media doesn’t concern itself with the moral dimension of the attacks on Gaza, the economic dimension of recent events have created a rising level of concern. In order to demonstrate this trend, here are summaries of four articles that appeared in the Israeli The Marker magazine for economic news:

1. On 2 February, Guy Grimland warned about a growing phenomenon of boycott of Israeli high-tech companies, and several Israeli companies received letters from European and U.S. companies explaining that they cannot invest in Israel for moral reasons.

2. In 3 February, Nehemia Strassler, one of Israel’s most famous economic correspondents, attacked the Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Eli Yishai, for calling on the Israeli military to “destroy one hundred homes in Gaza for every rocket that falls in Israel.” Strassler had nothing to say about the Palestinians living in these homes or about the loss of life, but he warned:

“[the minister] doesn’t even understand how the operation in Gaza hurts the economy. The horror sights on television and the words of politicians in Europe and Turkey change the behavior of consumers, businessmen and potential investors. Many European consumers boycott Israeli products in practice. Intellectuals call for an economic war against us and to enforce an official and full consumer boycott.

Calls are heard in board meetings of economic corporations to boycott trade relations with Israel. So far deals were cancelled with Turkey, the UK, Egypt and the Gulf States, and visits by economic delegations were cancelled. It’s much easier now to switch providers while abandoning Israeli providers. Many company boards are required to take wide considerations into account with regards to the good of society and the environment, and they put political considerations in that slot as well.

Of course there is an economic cost to severing diplomatic ties. Qatar cut its trade relations with Israel, Venezuela and Bolivia cut diplomatic relations. Mauritania recalled its ambassador and the relations with Turkey worsened considerably—and this bad ambiance seeps into the business sector decisions. Here, just yesterday Dudi Ovshitz, who grows peppers for export, said that ‘there is a concealed boycott of Israeli products in Europe.'”

3. On 6 February, Shuki Sadeh wrote about even more companies that have decided to boycott relations with Israel. A Turkish company demanded that Israeli companies sign a document condemning the Israeli massacre in Gaza before they can offer their services for it. Sadeh quoted Naomi Klein’s recent call for boycott, the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott and Israeli organizations that support the boycott and provide information for the global BDS movement. Sadeh’s article also had concerned quotes by Israeli businessmen who demanded government intervention to protect them from the growing boycott.

4. In 11 February, Ora Koren reported that the Israeli business sectors feel the effects of the attack on Gaza. She reported that Israeli businessmen in Turkey are hiding their names so that the local BDS organizations won’t learn about their activities, and that the situation is even worse in the UK.

These four articles are a sign that there is a shift in the effectiveness of the BDS movement against Israel, and that if the momentum is maintained and strengthened, Israeli businessmen may decide to move their headquarters away from Israel, or to begin to put pressure on the Israeli government to begin respecting international law, and ending the occupation.

reporting on israel apartheid week in canada, mel frykberg gives us some context for bds not only because of the israeli terrorist state’s action at “home,” but also for their complicity in apartheid south africa itself:

In the wake of the BDS campaign, critics of Israel have lashed out at what they see as parallels between South Africa’s former apartheid system and Israeli racism.

They point to Israel’s discriminatory treatment of ethnic Palestinians within Israel who hold Israeli passports, and the extensive human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied territories by Israeli security forces.

During the apartheid era, ties between Israel and South Africa were extremely strong, with the Jewish state helping to train South Africa’s security forces as well as supplying the regime in Pretoria with weapons.

Meanwhile, Toronto, where the Israel Apartheid Week movement was born, will hold forums, film shows, cultural events and street protests to mark IAW week. One of the guest speakers is former South African intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils.

Kasrils is no stranger to controversy. His parents fled from Tzarist Russian pogroms carried out against Jews, and immigrated to South Africa at the beginning of the last century.

During white rule, as a member of the African National Congress (ANC), working both in exile and underground in South Africa, he was reviled by many white South Africans as a “terrorist”.

He has also been labelled a self-hating Jew by many Israelis and South African Jews due to the strong stand he and the ANC have taken against Israel’s policies.

and today we have great news from the united kingdom. they are making the moral choice not to accept office space in the man who has african and palestinian blood on his hands, lev leviev (now if we can only get the uk to sanction the zoinist regime then we’d be getting somewhere, but i suppose that is too much to ask. i mean, where would the zionist entity be without their british friends?):

The British embassy in Tel Aviv has stopped negotiations to lease a floor in Africa-Israel’s Kirya Tower because of the company’s role in West Bank settlement construction.

The British embassy had been expected to move from its current Hayarkon Street location into the office tower on the corner of Kaplan and Begin. The lease would have cost $162,000 a year, the British press reported.

Africa-Israel is owned by Lev Leviev, a tycoon who recently left Israel and settled in Britain.

jamal juma’ has an article in electronic intifada this week encouraging us on to continue our actions, to build on this momentum with bds as civil society, but his reference to latin america is an important reminder that one of the reasons for bds is that we, as civil society members need to use boycott and divestment pressure to encourage governments to sanction the zionist entity:

Latin America, on the other hand, is the only region wherein popular anger was more or less reflected in official discourse and action. It is no coincidence that Bolivia and Venezuela, the two countries in the region that cut diplomatic ties with Israel, are also the two states whose governments operate, both in principle and in practice, according to the needs of the majority.

Palestine has developed into a global litmus test for democracy. While more progressive states in Latin America stood up for Palestine and BDS, repressive Middle Eastern regimes did their best to crush popular mobilization. The EU governments stood somewhere in the middle, giving further proof of their special form of “democracy” wherein people are allowed to express their opinions but not influence government decisions.

Regardless of governmental political leanings, the mobilizations evidence a considerable and growing popular support for the Palestinian people. Yet, these protests, while encouraging, do not guarantee longer-term political gains. The most recent and sobering example of this were the record numbers of people who turned out to protest the most recent invasion of Iraq and the subsequent problems that have plagued the creation of an effective anti-war movement.

Instead, we should look to the concrete BDS victories that followed Gaza as evidence of lasting political change. The actions of South African workers and Latin American social movements, to mention only a few examples, represent not only anger over Gaza, but also its effective channeling into an organized movement that far predates this most recent atrocity. They indicate that we have managed to build, in a short period of time, an effective focal point for uniting international solidarity and support for the Palestinian cause.

i get impatient with those organizing in the u.s. very easily, one of the many reasons i left the country, because there is still so much educational work to be done before people can see why bds is necessary. i wish that students in american universities, for instance, would work to occupy their institutions and divest now rather than educating, but at the same time i suppose it is important to remember that the students at hampshire college worked on their campaign for 2 years before getting to where they are now. and the research one needs to do in order to discover what israeli and american and european companies that invest in the israeli terrorist state takes a long time. thus, columbia university seems to be on the right path as david judd reports:

Students at Columbia University are taking up the fight for Palestinian rights and have begun organizing around a set of demands for the university’s divestment from Israel.

The students’ demands, released on March 2, include full disclosure of Columbia’s budget and endowment, a public forum on divestment, partnership with a Palestinian university, scholarships for Palestinian students and statements of support for Palestinian academic freedom and self-determination.

Students plan to host a forum on March 4, on “Columbia University’s Relationship to Palestinian rights.” A rally in front of the administration building is planned for the next day.

This comes just two weeks after more than a hundred Columbia University faculty members signed a letter demanding that the university’s president take a stand for academic freedom in Palestine.

at columbia university and elsewhere along the east coast my dear friend ziad abbas, who is a refugee from the village of zakariya in 1948 palestine though he grew up in deheishe refugee camp, is starting his speaking tour this week for israel apartheid week and i strongly encourage people to attend. he is inspirational and amazing in every way:

Ziad Abbas, a Palestinian refugee and journalist from Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, is the cofounder of the Ibdaa Cultural Center. Ziad has worked with Palestinian and international media and has participated in the production of several documentary films. He recently completed his M.A. in Social Justice from the School for International Training (SIT). Currently on leave from the Ibdaa Cultural Center, Ziad works with Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), a non-profit organization which provides humanitarian aid to children in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. The tour will help support MECA’s efforts in Gaza.

Atlanta, GA

TUESDAY March 3rd, 2009 – 7pm
Testimony, Apartheid and Resistance
Harland Cinema
Dobbs University Center/Drawer B
Emory University
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations to MECA welcome!!
Contact Saba at skhali3(at)emory.edu or Atasi at atasi.das(at)gmail.com
Sponsored by Emory Advocates for Justice in Palestine

Brattleboro, VT

WEDNESDAY March 4th, 2009 – 6:30 pm
International Center (IC) 101
SIT Graduate Institute
1 Kipling Road
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations welcome!!
Contact Jennifer at Jennifer.McClearen(at)sit.edu or Atasi at atasi.das(at)gmail.com

Marlboro, VT

THURSDAY March 5th, 2009 – 7pm
Ragle Hall
Marlboro College
2582 South Road
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations to MECA welcome!!
Contact Mikaela at mikaela_sims(at)wsesu.org

New York, NY

TUESDAY March 10th, 2009 – 6:30pm
Silver Center, Room 703
New York University
31 Washington Square Place
(btwn Greene St. & Washington Square East)
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations to MECA are welcome!!
Contact Morgan at morgan.l.brennan(at)gmail.com or Atasi at atasi.das(at)gmail.com

WEDNESDAY March 11th, 2009 – 7:30pm
Columbia University
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!
Donations to MECA are welcome!!
Contact Shaina at srl2127(at)columbia.edu

Washington D.C.

THURSDAY March 12th, 2009 – 7pm
Busboys @ 5th & K.
1025 5th Street NW, DC
(202) 789-2227
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!
Donations to MECA are welcome!!
Contact Vera at vera.leone(at)gmail.com

Harrisonburg, VA

FRIDAY March 13th, 2009 – 7pm

Strite Conference Room in the Campus Center (main building in center of campus)
Eastern Mennonite University
1200 Park Rd
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations to MECA are welcome!!
Contact Suzi at suzi(at)clementinecafe.com

Portland, ME

SUNDAY March 15th, 2009 – 7pm
Meg Perry Center
644 Congress St.
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!
Donations to MECA are welcome!!
Contact Dan at fugedaboutit(at)gmail.com

Lewiston, ME

MONDAY March 16th, 2009 – 7pm
Bates College
Location: TBA
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations to MECA welcome!!
Contact Samy at sqarmout(at)bates.edu or Grif gpeterso(at)bates.edu

finally, for those who are in palestine, here is the list of events for israel apartheid week–in arabic followed by english–that you can attend in refugee camps and universities throughout the west bank:

للنشر الفوري: 3 آذار 2009

بيان صحفي صادر عن اللجنة الوطنية الفلسطينية لمقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات منها، وفرض العقوبات عليها

الجامعات ومخيمات اللاجئين في الضفة الغربية المحتلة تطلق حملة فعاليات أسبوع الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي (2 – 9 آذار 2009)

يصادف هذا الأسبوع والممتد من الثاني من آذار وحتى التاسع منه، الدورة الخامسة لأسبوع الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي، والذي يعقد في أكثر من أربعين موقعاً في العالم. وقد امتد هذا الأسبوع إلى فلسطين المحتلة، حيث ان هذه هي السنة الثانية التي ينظم فيها هذا الأسبوع في عدد من الجامعات والمخيمات الفلسطينية في الضفة الفلسطينية المحتلة. ويتضمن أسبوع الفصل العنصري لهذا العام سلسلة من الفعاليات المتنوعة، تشمل المحاضرات والعروض الثقافية، وعروضاً للأفلام الوثائقية وتنظيماً للمعارض، إضافة إلى تنظيم التجمعات والمظاهرات والنقاشات التي تهدف إلى تسليط الضوء على نظام الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي، وزيادة الدعم لحركة التضامن المحلية والعالمية الداعية لمقاطعة إسرائيل وفرض العقوبات عليها حتى تذعن للقانون الدولي وقرارات الشرعية الدولية ذات الصلة.

ينظم أسبوع الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي لهذا العام في فلسطين المحتلة تحت عنوان: لنقف صفاً واحداًُ مع غزة، التي تعرضت وسكانها الفلسطينيين إلى هجمة إسرائيلية متوحشة مع بداية عام 2009، أدت إلى استشهاد 1400 معظمهم من السكان المدنيين، والتي ترافقت مع حالة من السخط العالمي الشعبي على المجازر الإسرائيلية، تمثلت في التضامن غير المسبوق مع الشعب الفلسطيني وفي المطالبة بمقاطعة إسرائيل وفرض العقوبات عليها.

هذا وتنظم فعاليات أسبوع الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي في عدد من الجامعات ومخيمات اللاجئين الفلسطينيين في الضفة الغربية المحتلة، وستأخذ هذه الفعاليات عدة أشكال نضالية سلمية ضد نظام الابرتهايد الإسرائيلي. ورغم انه قد درج استخدام أسبوع الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي إلا أن الفعاليات ستستمر خلال شهر آذار، وستتكلل بمسيرة جماهيرية بتاريخ 30 آذار 2009 الذي يصادف يوم الأرض. هذا وستنظم مجمل الفعاليات الجماهيرية لهذا اليوم تحت عنوان: مقاطعة إسرائيل وفرض العقوبات عليها. وسترفع الفعالية المركزية شعار:
لنجعل يوم الأرض يوم مقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات منها وفرض العقوبات عليها.

لقد أصبح أسبوع الفصل العنصري منذ انطلاقته في العام 2005، احد أهم الأنشطة على أجندة التضامن العالمي مع القضية الفلسطينية. ففي العام المنصرم، شاركت 25 مدينة عالمية في الأنشطة والفعاليات المختلفة المنبثقة، إلى جانب مشاركتها في إحياء الذكرى الستين للنكبة الفلسطينية. إن الحضور والمشاركة في فعاليات أسبوع مقاطعة إسرائيل، تعتبر عوامل أساسية للتواصل مع الحركة المحلية والعالمية المتصاعدة الداعية لمقاطعة إسرائيل، وتساعد على فهم طبيعة ومضمون نظام الابارتهايد والاستعمار الاحلالي، والاحتلال الإسرائيلي العدواني.

وفيما يلي قائمة بالمواقع المشاركة في الأسبوع في الضفة الغربية:
القدس: جامعة القدس (ابو ديس)، مخيم شعفاط.
رام الله: جامعة بيرزيت، مخيم الجلزون.
بيت لحم: بيت ساحور، مخيم عايدة.
الخليل: مخيم الفوار.
جنين: الجامعة الامريكية، مخيم جنين.
اريحا: جامعة القدس المفتوحة، مخيم عقبة جبر.
نابلس: جامعة النجاح الوطنية، مخيم بلاطة.
طولكرم: جامعة القدس المفتوحة، كلية خضوري، مخيم نور شمس.
طوباس: مخيم الفارعة

للمزيد من التفاصيل الرجاء التواصل مع: محمد جيوس، الحملة الشعبية لمقاومة الجدار (0599649815)،
وللمزيد من التفاصيل حول الفعاليات في مخيمات اللاجئين الرجاء التواصل مع: حازم سليمان، مسؤول التواصل في بديل/ المركز الفلسطيني لمصادر حقوق المواطنة واللاجئين: (2747346+)، أو (2777086+)، ومباشرة على: info [at] bdsmovement.net

**For Immediate Release**

“Israeli Apartheid Week” Taking Place in Universities and Refugee Camps
Across the Occupied West Bank

March 2nd – March 8th 2009
Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Jericho, Nablus, Qalqilya, Tulkarem, Tubas
For a detailed list of events, please see: http://apartheidweek.org

BDS National Committee (BNC), Occupied Palestine, 26 February 2009 – The fifth international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) – occurring in over 40 cities in Palestine and worldwide – will be held across the West Bank from 2-8 March 2009.

This is the second consecutive year IAW is hosted in the West Bank. The week will feature lectures, film screenings, art and photography exhibits, cultural events and demonstrations aiming at deepening the apartheid analysis of Israel, while gathering support for the growing local-Palestinian and international movement for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) until Israel complies with international law.

The theme of this year’s IAW is “Standing United with the People’s of Gaza” – a focus which comes in the wake of the brutal Israeli military attacks on the people of Gaza in early 2009. Over 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the assault, more than 5,000 injured, and 14, 000 homes were totally or partially destroyed. Apartheid week will build upon the widespread protest and indignation witnessed during Israel’s assault and seek practicable ways to hold Israel accountable.

Campus and refugee camp boycott campaigns will be launched and developed during the week, in the lead-up to the 30 March (Land Day) BDS global day of action.

Since its initial launch in 2005, IAW has grown to become one of the most important global events in the Palestine solidarity calendar. Last year, more than 25 cities around the world participated in the week’s activities, which also commemorated 60 years since the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homes and land in 1947-1948. Attending IAW is important for anyone interested in understanding and connecting with the rising student and youth movement in the West Bank that has taken a pivotal role in organizing and mobilizing against Israeli apartheid, occupation and colonialism.

The full list of locations is as follows:

Jerusalem: al-Quds University (Abu Dis), Shu’fat Refugee Camp
Ramallah: Birzeit University, Jalazon Refugee Camp
Bethlehem: Beit Sahour and ‘Aida Refugee Camp
Hebron: Fawwar Refugee Camp
Jenin: Arab-American University, Jenin Refugee Camp
Jericho: al-Quds Open University, Aqabat Jabr Refugee Camp
Nablus: al-Najah University, Balata Refugee Camp
Tulkarem: al-Quds Open Unversity, al-Khadouri Collge, Nur Shams Refugee Camp
Tubas: Far’a Refugee Camp

For media contacts and inquiries, please contact:
For campus initiatives:
Mohammad Jayyousi, Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, +972-599649815

For initiatives in the refugee camps:
Hazem Suleiman, Badil Resource Center +972-2-277-7086

Please, direct email inquiries to: info [at] bdsmovement.net

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