UAW 2865, a labor union representing over 13,000 teaching assistants, tutors, and other student-workers at the University of California, has become the first major U.S. labor union to hold a membership vote responding to the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli occupation and in solidarity with Palestinian self-determination. The vote passed, with 65% (almost 2/3) of voting members in support. The measure calls on: 1) the University of California to divest from companies involved in Israeli occupation and apartheid; 2) the UAW International to divest from these same entities; 3) the US government to end military aid to Israel. 4) 53 % of voting members also pledged not to “take part in any research, conferences, events, exchange programs, or other activities that are sponsored by Israeli universities complicit in the occupation of Palestine and the settler-colonial policies of the state of Israel” until such time as these universities take steps to end complicity with dispossession, occupation, and apartheid.
Category Archives: BDS
RE/MAX is one of the largest real estate corporations in the world. RE/MAX International, based in the US, with headquarters in Denver, Colorado, oversees 7,000 offices in almost 100 countries and several of RE/MAX’s Israeli franchises sell property in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. During the first week of December Palestinian solidarity activists across the US flooded RE/MAX offices demanding that the real estate giant cease its activities in illegal, Jewish-only settlements.
Since Samantha Brotman began publicly expressing her outrage at last summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza, and especially since she helped to found a local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, several of her Jewish friends and colleagues have sent her links to Alan Dershowitz’s “Ten Reasons Why The BDS Movement Is Immoral,” hoping to bring her back into their Zionist fold. Here Brotman responds to Dershowitz’s reasons and notes “I’m glad Dershowitz is scared enough of BDS to take time out of his very busy schedule to write a list like this. This means something is working.”
The Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has cancelled a major collaboration deal with Israeli military company Elbit Systems in the wake of protests over the firm’s role in oppression of Palestinians.
A huge win for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) annual conference in Washington. Participating members voted overwhelmingly, by a majority of 265 against 79, to adopt a resolution defending their right to boycott Israeli academic institutions, part of the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The resolution will now go to a vote of the full membership.
John Jay College tried to censor an October 8 “Die In” by students commemorating Gaza; now the school accuses Palestine supporters of anti-Semitism. Where’s the evidence?
The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) undergraduate student government voted 8-2-2 to pass a resolution calling on the university to divest from companies profiting from Israeli human rights abuses and occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. According to a UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine press release, UCLA’s vote marks the sixth undergraduate University of California campus to support divestment from the Israeli occupation.
The Israeli government’s recent announcement that it had authorized the building of another 1,000 settlement homes in East Jerusalem left the US government seeing red, with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psakicalling the settlement activity “illegitimate” and “incompatible with the pursuit of peace.” But the announcement must have left the US-based real estate giant RE/MAX “seeing green,” ready to cash in on the sale and rental of more illegal settlement homes. Among the 90 countries with RE/MAX franchises is in Israel. Since its entry into the Israeli market in 1995, RE/MAX has become the largest network of real estate agencies in Israel, boasting 100 branches and over 900 real estate agents in this small country roughly the size of New Jersey. But here is the problem. RE/MAX Israel sells properties that are not only in Israel proper, but are also in occupied Palestinian lands of the West Bank.
Compared to its international counterparts, the U.S. labor movement has been slow to embrace BDS. On the grassroots level, however, things look different. This summer, hundreds of US labor leaders and organizers signed on to Labor for Palestine’s BDS statement. To add to these inspiring developments, on December 4th, UAW 2865, a union that represents 13,000 student workers across nine University of California campuses, will become the first U.S. union to hold a membership vote on joining the BDS movement. Similarly encouraging are recent solidarity actions in the San Francisco Bay Area, which show that, despite the ambivalence among some union leadership, rank-and-filers do not hesitate to stand in solidarity with the oppressed.
Murder, in any democracy’s foreign policy, is hardly ever sold as murder; instead it is neatly repackaged, advertised as necessary defense to loyal constituents. On November 10, the Fletcher School and Tufts Hillel will host one of the primary architects of this summer’s massacres in Gaza. Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine is calling on Tufts President Anthony Monaco to cancel a speaking engagement by Lt. Col. Dr. Eran Shamir- Borer so that apologists for Israeli war crimes are not honored on their campus.
Manchester Jews for Justice for Palestinians welcome events celebrating Jewish culture and history, however it opposes the Manchester Jewish Film Festival from accepting sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy and asks the festival to refuse that funding.
The growing momentum of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement since last year has drawn a great deal of media attention to the issue of Israel-Palestine, and the cause of Palestinian rights. Unfortunately, this often has produced more confusion and obfuscation than illumination and clarity. Even one of the mainstay journals of American academia, the Chronicle of Higher Education, is not immune from inaccuracies and misstatements. Even when it claims to be setting the record straight. This points to an inability, and perhaps unwillingness, of the mainstream media to treat the issue of the academic boycott of Israel in a fair-handed manner.
“Friends” of Palestine – the churches, NGOS and the UN – will go out on the Palestinian limb – up to a point. The dance that follows is what Marc Ellis calls “ritualized solidarity.” Is BDS any different? At this point, he believes it is – to some extent. But there are unexpected dangers ahead. In the end, BDS supporters may have no choice in the matter. Those driving the peace train are much more powerful than movements of dissent, including BDS.
In a bold action, Block the Boat activists from Tampa delayed the unloading of a ZIM boat for more than 5 hours Saturday morning.Chaining themselves by the neck to a parked car in front of Tampa’s port entrance, Block the Boat activists prevented the police from dispersing them for several hours after the break of dawn. Eventually, according to Ahmad Saadaldin, “the boat unloaded unfortunately, but there was a MAJOR delay. Port of Tampa has never seen anything like this before. It was an apocalyptic traffic jam. It’s all inspired by Block the Boat Oakland.”
SodaStream stock is still in free fall and the company announced yesterday that it is dumping its apartheid digs in the occupied West Bank. SodaStream says it plans to move to the heavily subsidized Idan HaNegev Industrial Park /Lehavim Industrial zone, 1,100-acre “development zone” in the Negev desert where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcibly removed by the Israeli government. Although the move from the occupied territories is certainly a victory, it’s not enough for boycott activists.
Melissa Parke (ALP, Freemantle WA) spoke in favor of a petition calling for BDS on the floor of the Australian Parliament on Monday night. John Salisbury writes: “Although her speech was a cri de coeur for common sense and common decency it was remarkable for its uniqueness. No Australian politician, except Parke, would deign to speak up for Palestinian suffering in Parliament. In Australia, as in the US, most politicians are just ventriloquist dolls for the pro-Israel lobby. . . But Monday night Parke walked into no man’s land. The brickbats will inevitably follow as our Australian versions of Haim Saban and Jeffrey Goldberg try to take her down. But Melissa, you don’t deserve the brickbats, you deserve bouquets.”
Two victories on the BDS front that show the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are increasingly considered beyond the pale in the U.S. and international community. Online shopping site GILT has dropped Ahava cosmetics and the government of Kuwait has announced “it will not deal with 50 companies due to their role in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
Lara Kiswani writes about the rationale behind the Block the Boat movement: “Because it’s time to disrupt Israeli business as usual. It has been time since 1948. And the summer of 2014 only served us a reminder to the world that the Palestinian struggle for liberation is calling on us to join them in their fight to end colonialism.”
Opponents of the academic boycott like to pretend that BDS supporters target Israeli universities for crimes that are beyond their control. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. As long as Israeli academic institutions participate in the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, discriminate against Palestinian students, and punish those who would dissent, they too must be boycotted. Academic freedom must apply to all. When an institution – be it the University of Illinois or the Israeli university system – blatantly violates this principle, it is not only our right but it is the duty of all who believe in academic freedom to pressure these institutions to uphold the basic ethics of any scholarly institution. Doing so is a defense of, not an attack on, academic freedom.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz has come out in support of the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. He said in a statement: “If there exists a moral arc to the universe, then Palestine will eventually be free. But that promised day will never arrive unless we, the justice-minded peoples of our world, fight to end the cruel blight of the Israeli occupation. Our political, religious and economic leaders have always been awesome at leading our world into conflict, only we the people alone with little else but our courage and our solidarities and our invincible hope can lead our world into peace.”
From an American Studies Association press release: “In recent days, several erroneous reports have circulated claiming that the American Studies Association (ASA), the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, will bar Israeli academics from participating at our upcoming annual conference in Los Angeles, November 6-9. This allegation is false. There will not be discrimination of any sort against anyone. Subsequent reports also stated, erroneously, that the ASA had changed our policy regarding support for the academic boycott. We have not.”
More great news for BDS. 400 delegates at the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ (CTUCC), representing 240 churches and 97,000 members throughout the state of Connecticut, voted to divest from all companies “profiting from the occupation of the Palestine Territories by the State of Israel” at their 147th annual statewide conference on Friday.
A new phase is developing in the US Palestinian solidarity movement: Block the Boat. The weekend of October 18th, Palestinian solidarity activists in Los Angeles will be holding another Block the Boat action. Block the Boat Los Angeles is organizing a community picket at 6 am at the intersection of Pier A Way and Pier A Plaza, on Long Beach, to prevent a Zim ship from unloading. Organizers say their principal goal is to stop ships “from unloading cargo made in Israel in an effort to peacefully apply economic pressure and fight Israeli Apartheid.”
The Israeli policies to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian Bedouin communities from the Jordan Valley and the area east of Jerusalem include the construction of three apartheid-style townships. Once expelled, these communities should be relocated there. However, in the last weeks Palestinian campaigners and Bedouin communities have made great advances to obstruct this plan: They have directly targeted the companies involved in the construction of the two townships currently being developed.