de-railing zionism

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a couple of good days ago i received an email from omar barghouti with excellent news about the success of the boycott campaign against the zionist entity. the monthly review zine published the email that highlighted the success against the french company veolia:

In the first smashing and convincing victory of the global BDS movement in the field of corporate responsibility and ethical compliance, Veolia is reportedly abandoning the Jerusalem Light Rail project, an illegal project that aims at connecting Israeli colonies built on occupied Palestinian territory to the city of Jerusalem.

As the Haaretz article below* admits, the BDS campaign’s success in costing Veolia some $7 billion worth of contracts is the key behind this decision by the troubled company to pull out of the project.

It is worth mentioning that Le Monde has recently published an expose, revealing to French readers and, crucially, to Veolia’s stock holders the fact that the company is losing a lot of money because of its complicity in a project that constitutes a major violation of international law, if not a war crime.

This great victory came as a result of years of hard, principled, meticulous and persistent work by French solidarity groups, particularly AFPS; by the growing French BDS movement which was instrumental in making Veolia lose a huge contract in Bordeaux; by Dutch activists who achieved the first success in convincing a Dutch bank to divest from Veolia and applied pressure on other banks to follow suit; by Swedish peace and justice groups, mainly connected to the Church of Sweden, particularly Diakonia, and Swedish Palestine solidarity groups who cost Veolia the heaviest, $4.5 billion contract in running the Stockholm metro; by British solidarity groups and activists, particularly affiliated with PSC, who contributed tremendously to excluding Veolia from a lucrative contract in the West Midlands; and of course by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, BNC, which partnered with all the above in the now famous Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign to pressure the company to abandon this illegal project.

The Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, which involves activists and groups in many countries all working to pressure the two French giants to quit the JLR project, was officially launched at the Bilbao Initiative conference in the Basque city last November.

Now is the time to pressure Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Gulf states, among others, to kick Alstom out due to its complicity in this illegal project. Solidarity with Palestine means almost nothing if it cannot be translated into BDS action that can truly cost the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime dearly.

This is the time to DERAIL ALSTOM!

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the original ha’aretz article to which omar refers to was reposted on the us campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel website which seems to be the first source to have released this good news:

The light rail projects for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are both facing difficulties. In a body-blow to the future Jerusalem light rail, the French company Veolia, which was supposed to run the train system after its construction, is abandoning the project.

Moving on to Tel Aviv, the city can’t even get a response to the compromise it offered MTS, the consortium supposed to build an urban train system, in order to settle issues in dispute. It’s waited a month and gotten no answer, causing not a little consternation in government circles.

As for the Jerusalem system, Veolia not only wants out of running the future train; it’s trying to sell its 5% stake in Citypass, the light rail consortium.

In recent days Veolia has been sending feelers to the Egged or Dan bus consortiums, to potentially replace it as project operator.

Any change in the ownership structure of Citypass, or in the identity of the project operator, requires the permission of the state. Also, the attempt to add Egged to the consortium could arouse opposition at the Antitrust Authority.

Veolia has had to contend not only with the delays and difficulties in building the light rail project itself, but with political pressure at home as well. Two months ago a French court heard a lawsuit by a pro-Palestinian group, demanding that the light rail project be halted.

The organization based itself on an article in French law that allows the court to void business agreements, signed by French companies, that violate international law.

The political pressure on Veolia has been mounting in another direction. According to various reports abroad, the French firm had been losing major projects in Europe because of its involvement in the Jerusalem job. Observers claim that’s the real reason Veolia opted out.

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this is a huge victory for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. at the same time there is still much work to be done. the photographs posted here are those i took today between beit hanina and the old city of al quds. i had lunch with a friend in beit hanina this afternoon and then we drove back to his house in the old city and i decided to take a few photographs of the apartheid train system that cuts through palestinian neighborhoods in order to connect zionist terrorist colonies. but i really had no idea how extensive this train really was until today. i mean, i’ve seen it going up in beit hanina and near the old city before. but tonight two friends of mine from deheishe refugee camp, who went to see a film with me, wanted to drive around “west” al quds to see old palestinian houses there. i called my friend in the old city to see if he would come with us because he knows much more about the history and geography of the area, plus it is a scary place to be lost, especially when you have people in our car who are not “legally” allowed to be there. the last two night shots of the train here are from this part of the trip. usually when i go between al quds and beit lahem i travel on the service which takes the tunnel under the old city so i never knew that this light rail train is snaking up and around the new gate of the old city and then all over “west” al quds, which is what that last photograph shows. and it goes way deeper into and all around that part of the city.

towards the end of our drive we were in deir yassin, where my friend who lives in the old city is from. he’s taken me there many times before, but this time he gave me a better sense of where the original borders are of the village–i never realized how huge it is. in particular what is shocking is that on the land of what was deir yassin is the zionist museum yad vashem (on the nazi holocaust), the grave of the father of zionism theodor herzl, and a huge cemetery for zionist terrorist colonist soldiers. it is as if the zionist colonists want to prove their domination by spitting on the graves of those palestinians they massacred on this land six decades ago. and it was on this land of deir yassin, too, that we saw the train snaking around yet again.

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while it seems that we’ve won a victory over the french company, the arab zionists are the ones we need to tackle next, starting with a saudi company that seems to think it is perfectly fine to partner with alstom, the company helping israeli terrorist colonists to steal land and create an apartheid transportation system to connect their colonies:

Saudi Arabia awarded French company Alstom a multi-million dollar contract for the construction of Haramain Express Railway, to link the holy cities of Makkah and Madina. Alstom is in violation of international law for its part in the construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail, which will link illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (including East Jerusalem) with the city of Jerusalem. The construction of the light rail is part of a wider Israeli policy to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from Jerusalem and turn permanent the illegal occupation of the city.

The decision by the Saudi Arabian authorities is in violation of its own international commitments. The Arab League barred member states from dealing with companies involved in the construction of Jerusalem Light Rail project. The Saudi contract sends a signal of approval for Alstom’s actions in Jerusalem and highlights the lack of integrity of the Haramain project: the Saudi Arabian government has chosen to link two of Islam’s holiest cities by sponsoring the colonization of another.

Across the world a divestment campaign is taking pace against Alstom and its partner company Veolia, with victories in Sweden and France. In 2006, Dutch ASN Bank took the responsible decision to divest from the project. Alstom and Veolia are accused by Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee, BNC, of complicity in grave violation of international law and Palestinian rights for their role in the JLR project. Despite the pressure, the two companies have refused to end their participation in the project. With construction at an advanced stage, Alstom and Veolia are guilty of actively colluding with Israeli apartheid.

1. Write to the Saudi Railway Organization and to the Saudi Arabian diplomatic representation in your country demanding immediate cancellation of the contract with Alstom.

* Saudi Railway Organisation contact details (http://tiny.cc/llcfC)

karni [at] saudirailways.org (Vice President)
shafqatrabbani [at] sro.org.sa (Project Manager)
salim [at] sro.org.sa (Project Manager)
sohail [at] sro.org.sa (Project Engineer)

* Saudi Arabian diplomatic representations worldwide: http://tiny.cc/NvtOd

Please bcc us on your correspondence: saudialstomdivestment [at] gmail.com

2. Sign the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/BDSaudi/petition.html

3. Write about this issue in your local media. Discuss it in your local mosque and community centers. Participate in actions for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.

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but there is one more bit of good news to share today that originated from kabobfest on boycott success stories:

Motorola is looking to divest itself from its Israeli cell phone division, MIRS, according to a report in Israeli business newspaper, Globes. The announcement comes only two months after the US-Telecom firm announced it had sold a controversial unit that produced bomb fuses and other equipment for the Israeli military.

Motorola’s dealings with Israel and its army has made it the subject of boycott campaigns by human rights activists in Europe and North America over the past few years. The boycott campaign’s impact was especially felt by Motorola after Israel’s aggression against the Gaza Strip in December and January in which more than 1400 Palestinians were killed the massive bombardment of the densely populated strip.

MIRS, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Motorola is the sole provider of wireless services for the Israeli Occupation Forces. Despite the divestment of two Israeli divisions, Motorola maintains several operations in Israel, including several R&D facilities and joint ventures with Israeli businesses.

The divestment announcement coincides with another by Veolia Transportation that it is looking to sell off its share of the project to construct and operate a light rail system between predominantly Jewish neighborhoods and settlements around Jerusalem. The French firm had lost over $7 billion in EU contracts as a result of pressure by human rights activists in a coordinated campaign that sought to end its relationship with Israel.

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