Saturday, 3 December 2011

The UN statehood bid and the internationalization of the Palestinian struggle: Joseph Dana

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Yasmin Ahmed
(LSE SU Palestine Society)

Joseph Dana, an American independent freelance journalist currently based in Ramallah (West Bank), was invited to speak at the London School of Economics by the LSE SU Palestine Society about "New directions in Palestinian resistance after the Arab Spring: The UN statehood bid and the internationalization of the Palestinian struggle".

He began by speaking about what he called a "crisis of legitimacy" regarding the Palestinian leadership, highlighted by the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN in September 2011 which was presented as a "top-down" initiative rather than it being a collective decision taken democratically via the consultation of the Palestinian people. Dana argued that the bid was "more about the Palestinian Authority staying in power as opposed to an organic initiative that came from below". 

He then went on to speak about the various ways that the state of Israel contradicts its own assertion as being "the only democracy in the Middle East". Dana focused on the 'Bill for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel Through Boycott', passed earlier this year (July 2011), which has made it illegal for any Israeli to support boycott of the state, with the threat of being sued if they were to do so. There are currently 400 boycotters within Israel. Dana saw this move as indicative of the fact that "BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] is so effective that they [the Israeli government] were willing to pass this law with a majority and violate their so-called democracy's principles". The speaker also cited the controversial loyalty oath which effectively "bans Arabs from Tel Aviv" as a further example of Israel's true anti-democratic nature.


Dana finally moved on to speak about the paradoxical nature of the tent protests that have been taking place in Israel. Whilst citizens of Israel were holding these sit-ins in order to demand "social justice" within Israel, they were "unwilling to acknowledge or confront the occupation". He argued that this symbolises "that the one and two state solutions are both unviable". For this reason, Dana claimed that global pressure through initiatives of resistance on the international front such as the growing BDS movement, the Flotilla that was raided by Israel in May 2010 and the 'Flytilla' activists who attempted to enter Israel to visit Palestinian families last summer are "crucial" in the context of the continuing Palestinian struggle.

We would like to express our thanks and appreciation to Joseph for kindly accepting our invitation and providing us with a very interactive and thought-provoking talk.

Students from Al Quds University visit the LSE

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Alice Dawson
(published in the LSE SU weekly newspaper, The Beaver)

Students from LSE, KCL and Al-Quds University
The LSE Students’ Union Palestine Society hosted several students from Abu Dhis, in the Middle East, who recently came to the United Kingdom to take part in an exchange programme organised by the Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association. They arrived on Thursday 10th November and participated in a variety of events across London.

The aim of the visit was to compare the university student’s diverging experiences between the Middle East and the UK. The Association’s website claims that the visiting students will “work with students from London universities on a project to document student life through photography.”

Anan Odeh from Al-Quds University speaks to students 
The students took photographs of life at Al Quds University and in the London universities they visited during the exchange. These photographs were displayed in an exhibition at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), entitled, “Look at our Lives.”

One of the eight students visited the LSE on Wednesday 16th November. Yasmin Ahmed, President of the LSE Students’ Union Palestine Society, said that the student was “shown around our campus whilst they took photos, met with the Sabbatical Officers and had a discussion about the Students’ Union and student activism at the LSE and in the UK.”

That same evening, three of the Al Quds students gave a talk at a public event in Connaught House, hosted by the Palestine Society and King’s College London Action Palestine. Approximately forty people attended the talk, which was based around the students’ experience of going to Al Quds University and how, what they refer to as, the “apartheid wall” has affected their education.

The students spoke of their journeys to university through Israeli military checkpoints, where they reported being subject to humiliation or even downright refusal of entry. The students stated that this has extended a five minute journey to one which takes around two hours. They mentioned being forced to leave before dawn for important events such as examinations in case they were refused entry or subjected to delays at the checkpoint.

One student said he had regularly seen Israeli soldiers only granting entry to female students if they were subjected to degrading acts such as taking off their clothes. Another commented that he was refused entry unless he agreed to purchase a packet of cigarettes for an Israeli soldier.

Aimee Riese, President of the LSE Students’ Union Israel Society, commented; “There are powerful narratives on both sides of this conflict. As students, as humans, it is not our role to judge whose narrative is more just. Rather we should do everything we can to support peace, through the internationally accepted two state solution, so that both peoples can live in the peace and security that they deserve.”

One of the audience members, Ahmed, commented that, despite the “very upsetting and angering circumstances that they and their families have faced on a daily basis,” the students “ended their talk with an air of defiance.” They recognise that their education is an “integral part of Palestinian resistance” and resolved never to give up “until Palestine is liberated and justice is served.”

The exchange visit occurred in light of a recent announcement by the Palestine Society that LSE professors from the Departments of International Relations, History and Law will be delivering live lectures to students in Gaza as part of the society’s “Right to Education” campaign.

Friday, 4 November 2011

KCL Action Palestine Campaign against Ahava

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(KCL Action Palestine)
At its first meeting of the year on 20th October, the King’s College London Student Council voted overwhelmingly to condemn the involvement of the university in an EU-funded research project that also includes Ahava.
With 26 votes for, 5 abstentions and just 1 vote against, the councillors voted to “demand the immediate end of the university’s involvement in the project, and the rejection of the financial grant King’s has received for its participation,” in a margin of victory that surprised even the most optimistic campaigners. The students also voted to urge the university to re-evaluate its commitments to ethical research, and work towards establishing a formal ethical research policy.
The success at King’s follows a similar vote at the University of London Union (ULU) Senate meeting on 12th October, where senators passed a motion to “condemn in the strongest terms” the collaboration between King’s and Ahava, and to support the campaign launched by students and staff at the university. The margin of the vote was again outstanding – 9 votes for, 3 abstentions, and no votes against. ULU is the largest students’ union in Europe; any motion it passes, especially one concerning Israel-Palestine, is of great significance and sends out a clear message.

King’s College London is involved in NanoReTox, a research project under the guise of the European Commission and its Framework
 7 research programme.Ahava is among the other partners in the project, as are Imperial, various other European universities, and the United States Geological Survey, which is part of the US Department of the Interior.
Ahava is a commercial cosmetics company whose premises are located on the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, around 10km inside occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank. The company is also partly owned by the council of this illegal settlement. The illegality of Israeli settlements inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) under international law is overwhelmingly accepted by the international community, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, UN Resolution 446, ICJ rulings, and the official positions of the EU and the UK government. By accruing profits from, extracting resources from, and sustaining itself on, an illegal settlement, Ahava is complicit with Israeli violations of international law. And by working with them, King’s has become a partner to this complicity.
We have received messages of support from students in Gaza, and our petition has been signed by more than 800 people so far, including Remi Kanazi, Ahdaf Soueif, Ali Abunimah, Jeremy Corbyn MP, and Professor Noam Chomsky, who also sent a short statement of support. The petition can be found here:http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/petition-against-king-s-college-london-involvement-with.html. The official University and College Union (UCU) representative at King’s has also pledged his support for the campaign, and will work with us throughout its duration.
The overwhelmingly supportive stance of students and staff at King’s and beyond towards the campaign illustrates the legitimacy of its demands, and theillegitimacy of the university’s involvement with Ahava. We urge King’s to take this opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to ethical research and the integrity of international law.
This press release first appeared on the KCL Action Palestine blog, "Permission To Narrate", at http://permissiontonarrate.wordpress.com

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

LSE lectures broadcast to Gaza

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Nicola Alexander
(published in the LSE SU weekly newspaper, The Beaver)

The LSE Palestine Society has extended it’s academic programme with the Islamic University of Gaza to include lectures by LSE Professors. Academics in the Departments of International Relations, Law and History have agreed to participate in the scheme by delivering lectures via online video conferencing.


The decision to twin the LSE Students’ Union with the Islamic University of Gaza was passed at the Union General Meeting (UGM) on 26th November 2009, in order to “show solidarity with the students there who have had their campus bombed and their colleagues killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces.” Proposer of the motion, Samer Araabi, stated that the twinning was in “no way a sign of support for Hamas” but to support the people of Gaza and their right to education. Prior to this, the Students’ Union was twinned with the An-Najah National University in the Middle East since January 2007, but this expired in November 2009.


The academic programme was first established as part of the Palestine Society’s “Right to Education” campaign, launched in 2010, under which the UGM motion was also launched. Originally the programme just partnered LSE students with their counterparts at the Islamic University of Gaza in a mentoring initiative. Last year, LSE students partnered with “pen-pals” at the Middle-Eastern university using Skype and e-mail. However, the Palestinian Society has decided to invite academic involvement to provide better support for the students there.


Zach Sammour, last year’s President of the Palestine Society and main organiser of the academic programme, said that the partnership between the Students’ Union and the Islamic University of Gaza “was primarily intended to serve as a solidarity gesture between the students of the LSE and our counterparts at IUG. Subsequently, we have attempted to utilise the twinning to provide as much academic and social support to the students at the IUG as possible".


LSE Professors will be broadcasting their lectures live to an audience of students and academics in Gaza via video conferencing. This will allow the students there to engage directly with the Professors by asking questions. The syllabus for the lectures has not yet been confirmed by the academic staff.


Sammour commented: “The supporting materials will either be written by the lecturers themselves or sourced from open-access online libraries, and as such we do not anticipate there being any issues relating to infringements of intellectual property.” It is hoped that this term will focus on International Relations with two weeks of lectures given by Marco Pinfari, LSE fellow in International Relations. Lent term will focus on History and Law. Professor Gearty, who is involved in the Law lecturing for the programme said he is excited to be part of the project, commenting; “It is particularly great when an opportunity to engage in this way comes from an initiative launched by the student body itself. Education is vital in all societies but particularly those in which, for whatever reason, opportunity to learn is so restricted.”


The Palestine Society’s programme marks a significant milestone in international academic relations with students in Gaza. Sammour said, “owing to the intense restrictions on the freedom of movement inside Gaza, social partnerships such as student or academic exchanges are almost impossible to organise. “As such, the work we carry out is primarily geared towards providing academic support and services online, though we have also organised social initiatives with students at IUG, such as online video conferences and a ‘pen-friend’ programme last year where LSE students were paired with IUG students via Skype and e-mail.” he added.


The 2009 motion to twin the LSE with the Islamic University of Gaza faced large opposition from many members of the Israeli and Jewish Societies at the time, who launched a “Hummus not Hamas” campaign to create awareness of their perceived problems with the twinning. The Opposers of the motion alleged that Hamas had built the university, many prominent Hamas members had been educated at the University and that bombs and weaponry were built and stored in the basement of the establishment.


Aimee Riese, President of the Israel Society commented: “Although we do not agree about a formal twinning of the LSE with IUG, because of its alleged links with Hamas, we are of course committed to the principles of academic freedom. We support the sharing of academic ideas to promote dialogue, understanding and peace- values which the Israel Society stands for.”

Another BDS Victory against Eden Springs

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By John Bennett
(Glasgow Caledonian University Palestine Society)
Glasgow Caledonian Palestine Society are delighted that Eden Springs no longer provide water anywhere on our campus.
Mayanot Eden (The Israeli parent company of Eden Springs UK) extract water from the Salukia spring and bottle in the illegal Israeli settlement of Katzrin, both in the illegally occupied Syrian Golan Heights. That Eden Springs UK and Eden Europe provide locally sourced treated water in no way absolves them of the crimes of the parent company and for us they are the same company.
As an Israeli company, even if it was not involved in these terrible crimes, Eden Springs must, we believe, be boycotted and divested from under the precepts of the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it adheres to International law by: Ending the Occupation of all Arab lands & dismantling the Apartheid Wall, Granting full and equal rights to Palestinians in Israel and acknowledging and facilitating the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees under UN resolution 194.
We view this not only from the perspective of the crimes against the Golani Syrians or the principles of BDS but the dual, often inter-connected impact of illegal settlements and Israeli control of vital water resources on the life of Palestinians (in terms of water) the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Every time we saw that Eden Springs logo we would think of Palestinian Bedouins in the Jordan Valley clinging to survival in absence of water re-routed to the settlements, our friends in Aida Refugee camp going weeks or months without water and the situation we are aware of in Gaza.
Statement from student president, Matte Andrews:
I am delighted to see that the hard work and diligence of both students and University staff has led to the removal of Eden Springs from the GCU campus. The campaign began in the 2007-08 Academic Session when students introduced the motion to Student Parliament, effectively mandating the Executive Committee to put pressure on the University to cancel its contract with Eden Springs for the supply of drinking water and coolers. Since then successive Executive Committees and the Palestine Society have been lobbying for the removal of the supplier whose Israeli parent company, Mayanot Eden markets and distributes the water from the Golan Heights, an area of Syria, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967 and move to more environmentally sustainable piped-in water. The success of this campaign demonstrates the deep commitment of GCU students and staff to global justice, ethical procurement and environmental sustainability
We thank Matte for his statement and would add thanks to his predecessor, who on the back of the occupation of nearby Strathclyde Uni during the Gaza massacre (from which they got rid of Eden Springs) got a motion through parliament to get Eden out of the Student Association building with immediate effect as well as to campaign for campus-wide removal. We’d also thank last terms president for keeping this going and giving some legitimacy, if you like, to the Palestine Societies campaigning.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Cambridge Students Vote to Break Contract with Veolia

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(Cambridge University)


Students at Cambridge have voted to call on the University to cut ties with a company implicated in Israeli human rights abuses.
The vote calls on CUSU (Cambridge University Students Union) to campaign to have the University cut ties with Veolia, a company involved in infrastructure projects in Israeli settlements, and employed by the University on a waste disposal contract. The referendum, which closed yesterday, passed with a majority of 58% to 41%: there were 898 votes yes, 637 votes no, and 21 ballots spoilt. While a strong majority was in support, the referendum was inquorate: 7.2% of the student body voted, short of the 10% required.
Students involved in the campaign pledged to continue the campaign to ensure that Veolia’s contract, which expires in September 2012, is not renewed.
Veolia’s activities in the West Bank include bus and light rail services and the Tovlan Landfill site, all serving illegal Israeli settlements. In recent years, the international community has targeted Veolia as a company profiting from the Israeli occupation. Veolia has lost contracts worth more than €10 billion since 2005, including, just a few months ago, a £300 million contract in Ealing, London. The actions against Veolia are part of a broader international campaign following the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli companies and institutions. The Cambridge campaign against Veolia received letters of support from Palestinian lecturers and students, a group of 30 Cambridge academics, and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.
Daniel Benjamin, a student involved in the campaign, said: “With this vote, Cambridge students make a strong statement against Veolia’s criminal actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We won’t stop fighting until Veolia is off campus, but this vote itself is a fantastic show of support in the broader campaign for Palestinian human rights through boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli companies and institutions.”
Owen Holland, a student involved in the campaign, said: “The impressive turnout shows significant student support for the campaign. We are concerned with a number of irregularities in the vote, such as lies in the ‘no’ flysheet that went uncorrected, a lack of ballot boxes in colleges, and a number of students who found themselves unable to vote online. Though the referendum did not meet the threshold to become CUSU policy, we will be campaigning to have CUSU adopt it anyway and push the University to drop its contract with Veolia.
Contact: cambridgebds@hotmail.co.uk

Edinburgh University Students Vote to Ban G4S in Another Victory for BDS

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By Liam O'Hare
(University of Edinburgh)


In a victory for the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) yesterday overwhelmingly passed a motion through its Student Council to block their contract with security firm G4S, and to lobby the University to follow suit.

G4S currently provide security services to Edinburgh University library, which prompted Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to begin a campaign to force the University to tear up its contract with the security firm. It was then recently discovered that EUSA were also in the process of hiring the firm for money collecting services. This led to a motion quickly going before Student Council and it was clearly passed, meaning the Union's trustee board must now look for an alternative.

The Danish-British security firm have been under huge scrutiny following the disclosure earlier this year of their role in Israel's occupation by 'Who Profits?' 1a project by the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace. The group revealed that the company supplies equipment and services to Israel for use at checkpoints, police stations, and settlements in the occupied West Bank and at Israeli prisons. Over the past month Palestinian prisoners have embarked on an open-ended hunger strike to protest the conditions in G4S supplied prisons.

In March earlier this year, due to pressure from the BDS campaign, G4S announced that it would exit from some of its contracts in the West Bank.2 However it will still deliver security services to illegal settlements in the West Bank and prisons in Israel.

G4S are also involved in running 4 detentions centres in the UK and received over 700 complaints against it in 2010. 3 The company could also faces charges over the death of Jimmy Mubenge, who died whilst in the process of being deported and in G4S custody. 4

The campaign to get G4S off Edinburgh University campus is part of a wider campaign for BDS by the SJP society on campus. Recently the group shut down the Careers Fair at the University for a second time in protest of the presence of arms dealers BAE there.5 Last March, at a EUSA General Meeting, a motion to Boycott Israeli Goods was passed by a landslide, with over 90% of the students present voting in favour.6 This came after the society shut down a talk by Ishmael Khaldi at the University, an advisor to Israel's racist foreign minister Avidgor Lieberman.7

The society, working now with EUSA and other ethical campaigns on campus, will now demand that the University's contract with G4S is ripped up and for no further contracts to be given to those companies involved or complicit in the continued suffering of the Palestinian people.

For Media Contact Liam on 07519575060 and edinburghsjp@gmail.com
1http://www.whoprofits.org/articlefiles/WhoProfits-PrivateSecurity-G4S.pdf
2http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/g4s-ends-some-5472
3http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jun/17/g4s-immigration-detention-700-complaints
4http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/16/mubenga-g4s-face-charges-death
5http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Lx4f7vZNRI
6http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/edinburgh-students-vote-5402
7http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7ZznKXpwnM

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Jenin's Freedom Theatre Attacked

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By Bobi Pasquale 
(Activist in Palestine)



As we near the entrance to Jenin’s Freedom Theatre (FT), Palestine we see coloured lights and a large group of young boys. They are dancing and applauding to loud, bassy music and the atmosphere is nothing short of electric. Considering the uplifting mood, one would never have thought only hours before this hub of positivity had been attacked.

The drama began at around 2.30am 27th July 2011, when Jacob Gough (Acting General Manger) awoke to the sounds of drones flying low overhead Jenin Refugee Camp. Given the traumatic history of the camp, which was attacked in 2002, the drones were not unusual;they fly regularly almost as a reminder that Israel can freely attack when it so pleases. As his phone rang at 3.15am, he quickly learned that the IDF were in close proximity of the camp.




Accompanied by FT co-founder, Jonatan Stanczak, the two approached the theatre from the back entrance. It became apparent that the FT was surrounded by a heavy mob of at least 50 IDF and a dozen jeeps. A family of 6 (including 4 small children between the ages of 6-10 years old) returning to their home had been detained just outside of the scene, and the 2 internationals were pulled from their car at gunpoint and squatted next to them. Jacob told me that despite the fury he felt at the harassment of the IDF, he remained quiet in fear of the family’s safety. Upon inquiring as to what possible justification the soldiers had as to their detainment, they were sharply told to “shut the fuck up or we’ll kick you”, and made ever aware of the presence of the guns the IDF are seemingly too proud to carry. This is the first time the IDF have so blatently attacked the theatre.

Meanwhile, in the FT itself hid 2 young men; Ahmed Matahen (technician of FT) and his brother Mohammed (who has no involvement in the FT). When the army arrived at the site they pelted the theatre and the neighbouring houses with rocks; smashing several windows and of course scaring anybody in the area. Picture the disorientation of being awoken by rocks at your child’s bedroom window whilst being surrounded by heavily armed thugs.
Qais Alsaadi, actor at FT told me how Ahmed was forced out of the theatre, and his 17 year old brother handcuffed. The security guard was also forced out and made to lift his top and drop his pants; as though he posed any remote threat to the sudden attack of an army.

Juliano Mer-Khamis
Amidst the debris of the theatre, who recently suffered the murder of it’s leader, Juliano Mer-Khamis (4th April 2011), the targets of this surprise ambush became evident. Bilaal Al Saadi and Adnan Nagnaghia (Head of the FT board and Manager of FT) were both arrested. Their whereabouts cannot be confirmed but it is believed that Bilaal is being held in Mojido and Adnan in Jalame – a notorious interrogation unit infamous for it’s torturous methods of interrogation. Both have been refused access to their Lawyer, and nobody has been able to visit them.


Although this act was obviously with intent to intimidate members and supporters of FT, the strength of it’s members has not been broken. There are fears that the Israelis will return and work “from the top down” to interrogate all members in connection to the death of Juliano (although Israel has yet to release a statement of explanation). Upon speaking to many citizens of Jenin, it is clear that Juliano was considered a Palestinian and deeply loved by Jenin. There is much speculation that his masked assassin resides outside of Jenin and highly doubted to be involved with the FT itself.

The FT has not speculated on the reasoning behind this attack but it appears to be “an act of desperation” on the part of the Israelis to destroy this small beacon of hope for the children of Jenin. The work of the FT is incredibly inspiring and they will soon embark on a tour, performing their powerful piece; “Fragments of Palestine”.

Updates will be published as we receive more information.

More information can be found on the FT website; http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Worisome Israeli Mindset

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Mehdi Beyati  (Kings College Palestine Society President-Elect)


If we were to characterise states in human terms, correlating them with their level of maturity and chronological development, Israel would be a spoilt, petulant child – taking what does not belong to it, squealing when challenged or threatened with punishment, sticking its tongue out at authority, and in doing so, harming its own long-term development. I tend to see states as rational actors; not benevolent or just, but rational, insofar as their own geopolitical and economic interests (or perceived and self-attested interests, rather) are concerned. However, the Israeli state has clearly lost it, so to speak, and is a special case.
When news of the assault on the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza broke out last year, my initial thoughts and feelings were not of disgust or grief, but a sense of incomprehension. In recent years, the Israeli state’s “decision-making”, as Norman Finkelstein puts it, has “deteriorated”. The 2006 war in Lebanon was a failure, even according to Israeli military pronouncements. The Gaza massacre too was both a PR blunder, marking a clear turning point in public discourse and perception surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict, and a strategic and military disaster – not just failing to dislodge Hamas, but in fact increasing support for them. I would have thought that considering its worsening image across the world (which the Israeli state has clearly recognised and is attempting to counteract), it would not have boarded a humanitarian fleet in the middle of the night in international waters, would not have fired live rounds, andwould not have killed nine people.
It is not that I doubt or underestimate the sinister nature of the Israeli state and security forces, but I would have expected them to act in a way that acknowledged the hostile international climate towards them. What we have seen over the last few years, however, is an increasingly irrational, unpredictable and vicious character of Israeli actions towards the Palestinians and other parties who are deemed as a “threat”.
It might seem very cynical and crass to describe Israeli actions as strategic blunders, rather than calling them for what they are – crimes, both immoral and illegal. But by recognising the increasingly illogical and self-defeating nature of Israeli actions and policies, we reach two conclusions, one more urgent and worrying than the other: the Israeli state is imploding; and unfortunately, in the short-term at least, this will mean further acts of crazed violence, as the state struggles to contain largely imagined “threats”.
The flotilla incident last year demonstrated this very clearly. Israel’s actions ended up publicising the mission and cause of the fleet, drawing attention to the continued siege on Gaza, and fuelling widespread criticism and condemnation from international human rights organisations, activists, and various governments.
Similarly, Israel’s denial of entry to 82 year old renowned linguist and thinker, Noam Chomsky, within that same year is difficult to justify in terms of security; he certainly would have enthused the students at Birzeit University, but I doubt he would have inspired them to take up arms. The Israeli authorities merely presented themselves as timid and paranoid, as well as indecisive, as they later described the decision as a “mistake”.
It is also non-violence that is stripping Israel of its democratic, liberal simulacra. It would be inappropriate and conceited of me to preach non-violence and passive resistance to an occupied people; however it is clearly very exposing and effective – as exemplified by the first days of both Palestinian Intifadas – in revealing state aggression and brutality. The idea is to provoke the state to react excessively and harshly. This is working. What is not working is what should happen next: a castigating international response. Among more recent events, on Sunday 5 June, when Israeli forces fired indiscriminately on 1,000 unarmed civilians marching to the ceasefire line between Syria and the occupied Golan Heights, there was not a word from the White House, nor from Downing Street. At least 23 civilians were killed and hundreds wounded in just a matter of hours. Again, Israel’s incoherence and absurdity were very overtly noticeable. The protesters never crossed the ceasefire line. Arguments relayed by Israeli Media Spokesman, Mark Regev, among others, which asserted the notion that demonstrators almost crossed into Israeli territory, simply did not hold water, because under international law the area in question belongs to Syria. Unarmed protestors were shot at whilst standing behind barbed wire.
What else can we expect from this insane state? Will they attack Iran and how will they respond to the new flotilla, departing in late June? What Israeli actions show, over the course of the last few years, is that they are becoming increasingly nervous and insecure. It would be unwise to attempt to gauge, or worse, underestimate, their brutality at this point. Traditionally viewed as the standard-bearer of Enlightenment rationality and liberalism, trapped in the midst of bloodthirsty, emotional Arabs, Israel is beginning to resemble the suicidal gunman. Some might rejoice at this; I, for one, am fearful. A lunatic with arms is nothing to celebrate – they usually kill many before turning the gun on themselves.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Largest Student Union in Europe Joins Boycott of Israel

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BDS Movement

The University of London Union (ULU)  has voted 10-1 to institute and campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in support of Palestine. The motion called for “thorough research into ULU investments and contracts” with companies guilty of “violating Palestinian human rights” as set out by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC). 

Ashok Kumar, Senate member for LSE, speaking in favour of the motion, argued, “We have precedents for boycotting campaigns at ULU, especially with South Africa and the boycott campaign over  Barclays bank, that supported the Apartheid regime. We are now responding to the Palestinian call for civil action in support of their fight against racism.”
The motion also called on other students’ unions to join in the campaign for Palestinian human rights. ULU is the largest students’ union in Europe with over 120,000 members from colleges across London. ULU senate consists of the presidents of the 20 students unions reprsenting every University of London University.  James Haywood, President-elect at Goldsmiths Students’ Union, stated, “We are delighted that this motion has passed, and with such a clear vote as well. We have seen throughout history that boycotts are a crucial nonviolent tactic in achieving freedom, and target institutions, not individuals.”
Sean Rillo Raczka, incoming ULU Vice President, “I’m delighted that ULU has passed this BDS policy on Israel.  We stand in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people, and as Vice President next year I will ensure that the University of London Union does not give profit to those denying the human rights of the Palestinians”
The text of the motion passed is as follows:
Union notes:
1) to boycott is to target products, companies and institutions that profit from or are implicated in, the violation of Palestinian rights
2) to divest is to target corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights, as enshrined in the Geneva Convention, and ensure that investments or pension funds are not used to finance such companies
3) to call for sanctions is to ask the global community to recognise Israel’s violations of international law and to act accordingly as they do to other member states of the United Nations
4) that in 2009 the The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa released a report stating that Israel was practising a form of apartheid in the occupied West Bank, (http://www.hsrc.ac.za/Media_Release-378.phtml)
5) that Israel continues to build a 8 metre high “annexation” wall on Palestinian land inside the post-1967 occupied West Bank, contravening the July 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice (the highest legal body in the world, whose statutes all UN members are party to) and causing the forcible separation of Palestinian communities from one another and the annexation of additional Palestinian land.
6) that within the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel continues a policy of settlement expansion in direct violation of Article 49, paragraph 6 of the 4th Geneva Convention which declares “an occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it occupies.” 6) that the Gaza Strip continues to face a suffocating siege from land, sea and air by Israel, and continues to suffer military incursions into the territory by the Israeli army
7) that Palestinians living in Israel continue to suffer third-class citizenship and are heavily discriminated against from healthcare, education, landownership and in many cases having ‘unrecognised’ villages completely demolished
8 ) that there continues to be millions of Palestinian refugees throughout the world who are racially discriminated against by not being allowed to return to their homes in Israel and the Occupied Territories, which is legally recognised under international law, including United Nations resolution 194.
9) that ULU and the NUS nationally adopted the call for BDS in the 1980s when it was called for by South Africans fighting racism and apartheid
10) that Ronnie Kasrils, the Jewish South African Minister of Intelligence said “The boycotts and sanctions ultimately helped liberate both blacks and whites in South Africa. Palestinians and Israelis will similarly benefit from this non-violent campaign that Palestinians are calling for.”
11) that the call for BDS has come from over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations, including student organisations, as well as organisations within Israel and across the global; and that the campaign is founded on the basis of anti-racism and human rights for all
Union Believes:
1) that unions should work to support the Palestinian people’s human rights and uphold international law
2) that BDS is an effective tactic, which educates society about these issues, economically pressures companies/institutions to change their practices and politically pressures the global community
3) that unions have a moral responsibility to heed the call of oppressed peoples, like we did so proudly during the BDS campaign to end South African apartheid
4) that the BDS movement has united human rights campaigners from different nationalities, races, religions and creeds across the world
Union Resolves
(1) Institute thorough research into ULU contacts with investments and companies,including subcontractors, that may be implicated in violating Palestinian human rights as stated by the BDS movement
(2) Pressure University of London universities and affiliate students’ unions to divest from Israel and from companies directly or indirectly supporting the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies;
(3) Promote students’ union resolutions condemning Israeli violations of international law and human rights and endorsing BDS in any form;
(4) Actively support and work with Palestine solidarity organisations such as the BDS Movement, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, British Committee for Palestinian Universities , Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
(5) Affiliate ULU to the Palestine BDS National Committee and engage in education campaigns to publicize the injustice of Israel’s discriminatory policies against the Palestinians and its illegal occupation