Palestinian artists, cultural organizations and human rights supporters welcome the Australian-British singer Natalie Imbruglia’s cancellationof her March performance in Tel Aviv.
Palestinian artists, cultural organizations and human rights supporters have welcomed the Australian-British singer Natalie Imbruglia’s cancellationof her March performance in Tel Aviv and thanked her for deciding to be “on the right side of history, on the side of the oppressed.”
February 23, New York, NY—Human rights advocates welcome the decision by PEN America to hold PEN’s annual World Voices literary festival without funding from the Israeli government.
The decision followed a campaign and a call supported by leading literary figures asking the organization to reject Israeli government sponsorship. PEN America accepted Israeli government support for the World Voices Festival four of the previous five years, and despite writers’ opposition in 2016. The leading US free expression and literary organization announced its program last week for the May 2017 World Voices Festival in New York.
PEN America did not, however, offer a reason for the absence of Israeli government support for World Voices in a February 2017 email exchange with Adalah-NY and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Since March 2016 over 240 well-known writers, poets, and publishers have signed onto a call for PEN America to reject Israeli government support. They include Susan Abulhawa, Nicole Aragi, Russell Banks, Angela Davis, Carl Dennis, Junot Díaz, Louise Erdrich, Richard Ford, Naomi Klein, Laila Lalami, Lucy Lippard, China Miéville, Eileen Myles, Michael Ondaatje, Claudia Rankine, Wallace Shawn, Raja Shehadeh, Gillian Slovo, Ahdaf Soueif, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Alice Walker, Cornel West, and Jacqueline Woodson. Twenty-two writers explained in more detail why they had supported the call. Over 17,000 other concerned individuals had also joined the call.
PEN International, the organization’s global hub, has criticized the Israeli government in the past for "the killings and the reported deliberate targeting of certain journalists, media organizations, and their infrastructures” and “the practice of administrative detention against journalists and other writers."
In a February 8 email to Adalah-NY and JVP, PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel wrote regarding World Voices, “Our support this year will come from contributions from a variety of private funders, as well as the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, South Korea, the Netherlands, and Poland.” Ms. Nossel explained, “Each year, our sources of funding for the Festival change depending on a wide range of factors.” In a February 17 follow-up email Ms. Nossel added, “Our approach to this centers on discussion and deliberation rather than formal policies.”
Allison Brown from Adalah-NY explained, “PEN America’s decision not to accept Israeli government support in 2017 is a victory for Palestinian rights, and for the Palestinian-led BDS movement, which calls on institutions to reject cultural partnerships with the Israeli government because Israel attempts to use these partnerships to legitimize its apartheid rule. For example, Israel has held Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour in prison or under house arrest for 16 months for a poem, and has jailed Palestinian journalists like Mohammed Al-Qiq and Omar Nazzal without charges or trial.”
Shalva Wise, JVP Artist Council Coordinator, commented, “Despite this victory, the lack of a public statement and a clear explanation by PEN America, or any formal policy, leaves us concerned that PEN America is leaving the door open to future partnerships with Israel and other repressive governments. PEN America should put in place a transparent policy prohibiting partnerships with governments like Israel that routinely violate the freedom of expression of writers and journalists. PEN America cannot mobilize actions against the Trump administration’s repressive policies with one hand, and burnish the image of other repressive governments with the other.”
At least one Israeli writer is participating in the 2017 World Voices Festival. In line with the Palestinian boycott call’s support for freedom of expression, letter signers called for the rejection of Israeli government support, and not for barring the participation of individual Israeli writers.
After PEN America dismissed the initial appeal from writers to reject Israeli government support, human rights advocates protested at the World Voices opening event in April 2016. Adalah-NY, JVP and writers then continued collecting signatures to the letter, including at several PEN America events this winter. With the 2017 festival approaching, Adalah-NY and JVP asked for an emailed update from PEN America on the status of Israeli government funding.
2017 marks the first time in recent years that PEN America did not list the governments supporting the festival on the World Voices website. PEN America had accepted Israeli government support for World Voices in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 – making the Israeli government, with the French government, the most frequent governmental sponsors of the World Voices Festival between 2012 and 2016.
Adalah-NY and JVP support the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to fulfill its obligations under international law and fully recognize the Palestinian people’s right to live in full equality in their homeland.
Letter to PEN America with Signatories: /web-action/1450/tell-pen-america-don-t-partner-israeli-government
Email Exchange between PEN America and Adalah-NY/JVP, February 2017: /document/1460/email-exchange-between-pen-america-and-adalah-ny-jvp-february-2017
BDS Movement- 24/02/2017
A year ago Israel offered Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and other Hollywood stars all-expenses paid luxury trips, but it seems they have chosen to miss their cues.
Campaigners are claiming victory as it appears none of the 26 Oscars stars offered a free personalised tour valued at up to $55,000 has visited.
A second major city in Norway has voted to boycott Israeli goods and services produced in Palestinian territory occupied in 1967.The 25-18 vote by Tromsø city council followed a similar action in Trondheim in November.
Tromsø’s resolution was sponsored by council members Jens Ingvald Olsen and Mads Gilbert, known worldwide for his medical work in the Gaza Strip.
With a population of 75,000 and one of only a handful of world cities north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø has a long tradition of solidarity with Palestine, Gilbert told The Electronic Intifada.
SOME MEMBERS OF CONGRESS are trying to criminalize supportfor the campaign to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel for its occupation of Palestinian territories.
February, 20, 2017, Quito, Ecuador – A Quito-based research institute — the International Center for Advanced Studies in Communications for Latin America (CIESPAL) — decided against renewing its contract with the British security company G4S after meeting with BDS activists who informed it about G4S’s complicity with Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.
This is the first victory for BDS activists in Ecuador working to advance Palestinian human rights, and the second loss for G4S in Latin America, due to BDS pressure, in less than a year. In early 2016, another strong BDS campaign for Palestinian human rights led a major restaurant chain in Colombia to announce that it would end its contract with G4S. Notably, CIESPAL cut ties with G4S without laying off any workers.
G4S, the world’s largest security company, has a history of helping Israel run prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held without trial and subjected to torture and ill-treatment. G4S has also been involved in providing equipment and services to Israeli military checkpoints, illegal settlements and to military and police buildings.
Under strong pressure from BDS activists participating in the international Stop G4S campaign, G4S has for the last several years been losing major deals and investments around the world. In 2016, the company was forced to sell most of its business in Israel, but still has contracts in training Israeli police and in relation to illegal settlement buildings on stolen Palestinian land. As such, G4S remains complicit in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.
BDS Movement- 20/02/2017
Israel's war of repression has failed to stop the continued growth of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights.
The year 2016 will be remembered by Palestinians and supporters of Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, among other things, as Israel’s year of waging an all-out war on the Palestinian-led, global BDS movement for Palestinian rights, in a desperate attempt to crush it.
In this respect, 2016 will also be remembered as the year of Israel’s spectacular failure, as BDS grew further into the mainstream, and its impact on Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid intensified.
In 2016, Israel deployed massive financial assets, intensive espionage, well-oiled propaganda, cyber “sabotage,” and, most importantly, legal warfare against BDS human rights defenders and networks.
Frustrated with the spread of BDS throughout the west, in Latin America, the Arab world, South Africa and parts of Asia, Israel has hoped to leverage its enormous influence on the US Congress and state legislatures, as well as on the governments of France, the UK, Canada, among others to suppress BDS. Israel has attempted to stigmatize, demonize and in some cases delegitimize BDS from above, after failing to crush the movement at the global grassroots and civil society levels.
Throughout this year, BDS has grown stronger and stronger.
Major multinationals, including Orange and CRH, abandoned their involvement in Israeli projects that infringe on Palestinian rights. This followed Veolia’s exit from Israel in 2015 after losing billions of dollars worth of tenders due to seven years of BDS campaigning.
Also this year, tens of city councils, mainly in Spain, announced themselves “Israeli Apartheid Free Zones,” and major churches in the US divested from Israeli banks or international companies that support the occupation.
BDS has also strengthened principled intersectional coalitions with movements for racial, economic, gender and climate justice, among others, around the world.
One exceptionally noteworthy achievement for the BDS movement in 2016 was its success in winning support for the right to boycott Israel in support of Palestinian rights under international law from the European Union, the governments of Sweden, Netherlands and Ireland, as well as from Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Federation of Human Rights, and hundreds of political parties, trade unions and social movements across the world.
The logic of appeasing Israel’s regime of oppression has started giving way to the logic of sustained international pressure, which proved instrumental in ending apartheid in South Africa. The UN Human Rights Council, for instance, adopted in its March meeting a decision to create a database of Israeli and international corporations that are complicit in and profiting from Israel’s occupation regime. This remarkable development has made many companies nervous about their own involvement in Israel’s serious violations of international law.
The following timeline sums up some of the most significant indicators of direct and indirect BDS impact in various fields.
BDS Movement- 28/11/2016
7 private and public companies in Jordan have discontinued their service contracts with G4S, the security company, in response to a global boycott call against G4S’ parent company for its complicity in Israel’s regime of occupation and settler-colonialism.
Last month, Egged Bus Systems (EBS), a subsidiary of Egged Israel Transport Cooperative Society, Israel’s largest public transportation operator, lost a bid for a decade-long contract to run public transportation in the North-Holland region of the Netherlands, which includes the country’s capital, Amsterdam. This contract was valued at 19.1 million euros a year, with a total worth of 190.1 million euros.
Social media outlets have circulated a pamphlet from Pizza Hut- "Israel” that ridicules the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners and one of their leaders, Marwan Barghouti.
On World Photography Day, over 40 Portuguese photographers, teachers of photography and photography students have launched a pledge not to accept professional invitations or financing from the State of Israel and to refuse to collaborate with Israeli cultural institutions complicit in Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid.
In a significant setback for Israel’s campaign against the global, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, earlier this week the upper house of the Swiss parliament blocked efforts to criminalize BDS and ban government funding for organizations committed to promoting Palestinian human rights. These failed efforts were led by Swiss right-wing parties lobbying for Israel.
BDS Movement- 01/07/2017
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Jordan has announced it will no longer contract with G4S.
The group Jordan BDS hailed the decision as a victory for its year-long campaign, which included a meeting with WFP officials and an open letter signed by dozens of Jordanian organizations to urge the UN agency to end the contract.
This makes WFP the fourth out of six UN agencies in Jordan to ditch the world’s largest security company, following pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
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