Activists to New Orleans City Council: Say no to products that support Israeli occupation

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To the City of New Orleans:

New Orleans has a history rooted in the struggle for justice. There were moments in time where the right thing (abolition, desegregation, women’s suffrage) wasn’t always the popular thing. At New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee (NOPSC), we know that our choice to support equity for Palestinians may be unpopular. We also know that it is right.

Prior to 1948, the land that is today Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, was all called Palestine. Palestinian Muslims, Christians and Jews all lived peacefully on the land.

Violence had erupted a few times since Zionists began settling Palestine in the 1800s, but it escalated following the Holocaust, as Zionist inciters and British imperial interests encouraged stateless Jews from Eastern Europe to make Palestine their homeland.

By 1949, the year Israel became a state, thousands of indigenous Palestinians had been displaced–either killed in the violent attacks on their native villages or forced into refugee camps.

The issue is not the emigration of an oppressed people to a land looking for a better life; it’s that the oppressed became the oppressor. Being oppressed never gives a marginalized group the right to subjugate another group.

Since 1967, Israel has been complicit in a military occupation of the West Bank of Palestine. Israel illegally confiscates privately owned Palestinian property; imprisons Palestinian citizens for years without charge; and uses checkpoints to restrict the movement of Palestinians, even during childbirths and medical emergencies. In Gaza, the situation is even worse because citizens are denied access to food and medicine due to the Israeli-imposed blockade.

As appalling as the Israeli-instituted humanitarian crisis is, what we find absolutely inexcusable is that the United States is funding this occupation. Louisiana can’t balance its budget enough to pay for public education, yet, as taxpayers, we send $10.2 million a day to Israel in military aid alone. That money belongs here at home to build up our infrastructure, not Israel’s military.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society asked the world to participate in an international economic justice campaign until Israel 1) tears down the apartheid wall and returns to the 1967 borders, 2) grants full rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and 3) allows Palestinian refugees the right to return home. This campaign is called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

In the BDS movement, consumer boycotts target companies that profit from the occupation. The list of products includes everything from diapers to food. In New Orleans, we are working to remove products from two Israeli corporations from our grocery stores: Sabra Dipping Company and Tribe Mediterranean Foods. These two Israeli companies have a monopoly on the U.S. hummus market, accounting for over 70% of total sales in the United States.

Sabra is partly owned by Israel’s Strauss Group. Strauss donates money and gifts to the Israeli Defense Force’s Golani Brigade, an “elite” unit with countless human rights’ abuses on its record against both Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. The infamous Golani Brigade also participated in Operation Protective Edge, which killed 1,483 Palestinian citizens according to the United Nations.

Tribe doesn’t have a much better record. It is owned by Osem Group, the largest exporter of Israeli food products to the US. Osem supports the Jewish National Fund. Much like areas redlined during Jim Crow in the United States, JNF land is exclusive property. By law, that land can only be rented, owned, or worked by non-Palestinian Jews.

NOPSC will not sit by idly as Israel perpetrates countless human rights violations and breaks abounding international laws. Join BDS NOLA by 1) vowing to STOP buying Sabra and Tribe, 2) asking your local grocery store to stop carrying Sabra and Tribe, and 3) signing our online petition demanding that the City Council pass a resolution making it illegal to carry products that directly support the Israeli occupation.

Join the struggle for what’s right; support Palestinian human rights with BDS NOLA.

In solidarity,

New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee

  1. American Friends Service Committee-South Region
  2. Baton Rouge Organizing
  3. Black Youth Project 100-New Orleans
  4. BreakOUT!
  5. Congress of Day Laborers
  6. Hagar’s House
  7. International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
  8. Jewish Voice for Peace New Orleans
  9. Louisiana Socialist Network
  10. New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice
  11. NOLA to Angola
  12. PATOIS Film Festival
  13. Peace by Piece
  14. Project Ishmael
  15. Radical Arts & Healing Collective
  16. Students for Justice in Palestine-University of New Orleans
  17. The Black Out
  18. The Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
  19. Wildseeds: The New Orleans Octavia Butler Emergent Strategy Collective
  20. Women With A Vision