Boycott, Divestment and Protest Israel Update

From grassroots community action in Tescos in Wales as above to Preston Council voting to boycott Israel and CODEPINK’S visit to Gaza to meet with women’s groups and Hamas officials, ordinary good-hearted people are putting themselves on the line for peace and justice.

From Mondoweiss – US academics at last are making a stand too against Israeli apartheid:

Today we see writers from across the spectrum, Max Blumenthal, Glenn Greenwald, John Mearsheimer, Daniel Levy, Scott McConnell, Paul Craig Roberts–who have educated themselves and said, No thanks, we draw the line. They are making this movement.

Harvard Law Professor Duncan Kennedy strikes the liberation bell –

Just listen to Kennedy’s soft, persuasive voice. It’s a long excerpt. But important. First the Gaza bit:

Numerous observers have charged Israel with committing war crimes during the war. Without downplaying that aspect, I think it is important to understand the 1,300 Palestinian casualties, including 400 children as well as many, many women, versus 13 Israeli casualties, as typical of a particular kind of “police action” that Western colonial powers and Western “ethno-cratic settler regimes” like ours in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Serbia and particularly apartheid South Africa, have historically undertaken to convince resisting native populations that unless they stop resisting they will suffer unbearable death and deprivation. [Here Kennedy seems to agree with my law-and-order post of yesterday] Not just in 1947 and 1948, but also in Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, Israel used similar tactics.

Causing horrific civilian deaths is often perfectly defensible under the laws of war, which favor conventional over unconventional forces in asymmetric warfare. The outright “crimes,” like the My Lai massacre, Abu Ghraib, or Russian massacres in Afghanistan and then in Chechnya, are less important for the civilian victims than the daily tactics of air assault, bombardment, and brutal door-to-door sweeps, meant to draw fire from the resisters that will justify leveling houses and the people in them…

History bit:

In 1967, Israel preemptively attacked Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and occupied the West Bank and Gaza, largely populated by refugees of 1948, as well as East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Sinai (later returned to Egypt). This generated another approximately 200,000 Palestinian refugees who were also forbidden to return. Since 1973, Israeli governments have gradually moved about 400,000 Jewish settlers into the West Bank and another 200,000 into East Jerusalem, appropriating about 50 percent of the land (when roads and other infrastructure are taken into account), taking over the water, and alternately exploiting and starving the West Bank and Gaza economies to the point where the Arab population is overwhelmingly dependent on the international “donor community” for subsistence.

Palestinian non-violent and violent resistance to the military occupation is fully legal under international law. On the other hand, many of the specific tactics, especially airplane hijacking, suicide bombing targeting civilians, including children and old people, and indiscriminate rocket attacks, have been widely denounced as criminal….

In his measured article at the Harvard Crimson, Professor Kennedy suggests:

Can this picture be right? If so, what is to be done? If not, what is to be done? If you are not already clear about what you think, it is crucial to try to find out for yourself. If the situation is as bad as I have painted, you might consider some small step, perhaps just a contribution to humanitarian relief for Gaza, or e-mailing the White House, or something more, like advocating for Harvard to divest.

In South Africa, dock workers are refusing to unload Israel ships.

In a Palestine Solidarity Committee news release, the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ decision to “strengthen the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel” is noted. Referring to workers’ commitment to “refuse to support oppression and exploitation across the globe,” the committee recalls the refusal by Durban dock workers last year to offload arms from China that were destined for Zimbabwe.

The release also says that workers will not allow South African ports to be used as “transit points for goods bound for or emanating from certain dictatorial and oppressive states such as Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Israel.”

The release continues: “We also welcome statements by various South African Jews of conscience who have dissociated themselves from the genocide in Gaza. We call on all South Africans to ensure that none of our family members are allowed to join the Israeli Occupation Forces’ killing machine.”

Calling on the South African government to sever diplomatic and trade relations with Israel, the Palestine Solidarity Committee announced a week of action under the banner “Free Palestine, Isolate Apartheid Israel.”

Turkish soccer player for Sivasspor, midfielder Ibrahim Dagasan, has planted a Palestinian flag in the middle of the pitch at a match in protest against Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

While the Western Australian Maritime Union of Australia support sanctions against Israel and the Sydney branch officials have signed a petition condemning Israel, the conservative AWU condemns boycotts.

Other local union leaders, such as Steve Dargavel from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, have also attacked Israel’s “aggression” in Gaza

A new article “Why the West backs Israel – and how to make it stop” by Tony Itis makes good reading – Tony explains why the BDS movement can be effective in eliminating Israeli apartheid.

Maltese NGOs are pressuring the EU to annul its uncomfortable ‘special relationship’ with the occupier state.

In view of the recent three-week premeditated campaign of bombing of the population of Gaza and its infrastructure by the State of Israel which came after a crippling, illegal two-year siege, we, 14 member organizations of SKOP, the Maltese national platform of development non-governmental organizations, call for a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Freezing the upgrade of its relations with the State of Israel to make it a privileged partner, as the EU has done so far, is simply not enough. If the EU is truly committed to the pursuit of a just peace it must also act in a way that clearly dissociates it from war crimes, while helping to bring the perpetrators to justice.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 6

Students across the UK have mobilized in what are now almost two dozen university liberations, in protest against Israel, in solidarity with the people of Gaza, and seeking their universities’ divestment from companies doing business in Israel while doing more to support the victims of Israel’s war. These students have been tremendously courageous, as well as creative and inspiring.

Open Anthropology has an excellent post on the progress of Canadian and UK University protests against Israel, particularly the actions at Manchester University.

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