by Anna Baltzer, National Organizer
By popular demand, below is a list of over 100 U.S. Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Victories, released to commemorate ten years since Palestinian civil society issued the call for BDS.
2014 was simultaneously a terribly painful and remarkably hopeful year for the Palestinian people.
As the Palestinian civil society-led movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) continues to snowball, as evidenced by the United Church of Christ’s overwhelming affirmative vote earlier this week, Israel’s supporters have embarked on a desperate top-down strategy to legislate against this burgeoning grassroots initiative.
SOME MEMBERS OF CONGRESS are trying to criminalize supportfor the campaign to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel for its occupation of Palestinian territories.
A community college in Cupertino, California, has become the first educational institution of its kind in the US to support a resolution in favor of divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.A resolution, which the student senate passed on 15 March, urges the De Anza College’s board of trustees to pull the college’s investments from three US-based corporations that enable Israel’s rights violations – Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions and Caterpillar – as well as from G4S, the largest private security firm in the world.
G4S has provided equipment and services to Israeli military checkpoints and inside prisons where Palestinians have been tortured.
Due to mounting international boycott pressure, G4S announced last December that it was exiting most of its businesses with Israel, but remains co-owner of a police training center.
The resolution also calls on the community college to implement a socially responsible investment policy.
In authoring the resolution, members of Students for Justice at De Anza investigated and discussed themes of mass incarceration, state violence and settler-colonialism from the US to Palestine, according to Sara Elzeiny, a Students for Justice member.
The resolution points out that Hewlett-Packard not only provides equipment to Israeli checkpoints which “restrict the freedom of movement of Palestinians, facilitate discrimination against Palestinians, and reinforce a stratification of citizenship,” but also profits from mass incarceration and the detention of undocumented persons in the US.
“You have border patrol and stop-and-frisk [laws] in the US, and in the occupied territories, you have border patrol and checkpoints and the Israeli army,” Elzeiny told The Electronic Intifada, adding that US police and Israeli soldiers have partnered in militarized training exercises.
Students for Justice works on a number of human rights and environmental issues, Elzeiny said, from mobilizing against police violence and resisting military recruitment on campus to campaigning for fossil fuel divestment. They are also joining the movement to resist the Dakota Access pipeline and support indigenous rights at Standing Rock.
The decision to support Palestinian rights was a clear one, she explained.
“Divestment takes a concrete step that pushes against the status quo that says we should normalize military intervention and occupation in a region,” Elzeiny said.
The vote to divest passed 12-1, with four student senators abstaining, according to the campus newspaper.
The push for divestment at De Anza College is part of the growing student campaign in support of Palestinian rights.
Students for Justice at De Anza worked with other activists, including members of Students for Justice in Palestine at nearby San Jose State University, which in 2015 passed a resolution demanding the university divest from companies that profit from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
San Jose State became California’s first state university campus to pass a divestment resolution regarding “companies complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine,” while seven out of nine undergraduate campuses of the University of California have passed resolutions urging the UC’s governing body to pull its investments from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation.
Israel-aligned groups, meanwhile, are pushing for state and federal legislation aimed at silencing and criminalizing boycott activism.
Last month, the state senate of New York fast-tracked three separate bills that create a blacklist of BDS activists, prohibit student-led boycott campaigns and threaten academic associations supporting the academic boycott.
Palestine Legal called these bills “blatantly unconstitutional attacks on First Amendment rights to protest and dissent.”
At De Anza, students know they “have a lot of work ahead,” Elzeiny said, as they take the resolution to the college’s financial governing board.
Even if the board rejects the students’ demands, she said that the resolution – and the larger campaign of education on Palestinian rights – starts a necessary conversation on campus.
“Trying to make our organization the face of this discourse has made other activists want to learn about Palestine,” she said.
In 2015, a broad coalition of students brought a resolution to divest all 112 community colleges in California from companies that profit from Israel’s rights violations. The resolution was defeated.
The Electronic Intifada- 07/04/2015
The Israeli government played a direct role in recent policy and legislative moves in the US, UK and other countries to suppress the free speech rights of citizens calling for the boycott of Israel over its human rights abuses. Israel is now planning to significantly step up its efforts to thwart the Palestine solidarity movement, through its embassies in key capitals.
The United Church of Christ -- one of the largest Protestant denominations in the United States -- on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of divesting from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and boycotting goods produced in these territories.
Members of Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate passed a resolution calling for Tufts to divest from four companies that it says are involved in the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The resolution, which drew an audience of more than 100 students, passed with 17 in favor, six opposed and eight abstentions.
Several audience members held pieces of paper with a crossed-out image of a table, which urged Senate to vote on the resolution rather than tabling it, while others held signs reading “I support Palestinian Human Rights,” “Stand with Israel” and “Divest from these companies profiting off of the occupation.”
TCU Parliamentarian Adam Rapfogel introduced the resolution and reviewed the resolution process for students in attendance. Then TCU Historian Rati Srinivasan read the text of the resolution. Following non-substantive changes related to the grammar and spelling of the resolution, the meeting entered the discussion phase.
Several authors spoke to provide background for the text of the resolution, which calls for Tufts not to invest in Elbit Systems, G4S, Northrop Grumman and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and to screen its investments for human rights compliance. According to the resolution, it is unclear whether Tufts currently invests in those four companies.
The authors stressed that the goal of the resolution is to make a statement that Tufts should not profit from human rights abuses. Others argued that the resolution’s political statement is beyond the scope of TCU Senate.
The meeting then entered a question-and-answer period, during which students in the audience were allowed to direct questions to the authors of the resolution.
Some students raised concerns that attendance at the meeting could be impacted by the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover. To address this, comments were collected online from students and Rapfogel, a sophomore, read a selection.
A motion was raised to move to debate and it passed. After ten minutes, a motion to table the resolution was raised but was denied 13-4. Following another 30 minutes of debate, another motion to table was raised and the rules were suspended to debate the motion to table, after which the motion failed.
Five amendments were proposed to the resolution. The first was deemed friendly and integrated into the resolution, and the other four were deemed unfriendly and not included.
Finally, a vote was held and the resolution passed with 17 in favor, six against and eight abstentions.
The Tufts Daily - 10/04/2017
The following press release was sent out by the UW-Madison Union of Graduate Student Workers:
Members of the Teaching Assistants’ Association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison vote overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution to divest from the State of Israel and corporations that profit from the illegal occupation of Palestine.
On Tuesday night, the student senate at the University of South Florida in Tampa passed a joint resolution calling on the board of trustees of the USF Foundation to divest from corporations involved in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations.The resolution, which passed in a landslide vote of 32-12 with 5 abstentions, demands that the university pull its investments in corporations that “are continuously and knowingly complicit” in violations of Palestinian rights.
On Saturday, 20 June, activists gathered at Trader Joe’s in Oakland and San Francisco, US to demand that the company stop carrying Israeli goods.
Ali Abunimah The $20-billion pension fund of the United Methodist Church has divested from two Israeli banks and excluded five major Israeli banks from future investments.The move by the US church’s pension fund manager Wespath was taken under its ethical investment policy, as Israel falls among the “high risk” countries it has identified for “a prolonged and systematic pattern of human rights abuses.”
The National Labor Relations Board has reaffirmed its dismissal of charges against the United Electrical workers union because of its support for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
The NLRB is the US federal agency that enforces the country’s trade union legislation.
In August 2015, the 30,000-strong United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, known as UE, became only the second national trade union in the US to back BDS by a vote of delegates at its annual convention in Baltimore.
In October, Shurat HaDin, a lawfare group with ties to Israel’s Mossad spying and assasination agency, filed acomplaint against the union, claiming that its support for BDS amounted to a violation of the law against secondary boycotts.
In January, the labor board dismissed the complaint, stating it had investigated and found “there is insufficient evidence to establish a violation” of the law.
Shurat HaDin appealed the dismissal, but on 26 May the labor board’s general counsel issued a letter that the union says reaffirms the earlier decision to throw the case out.
UE national president Peter Knowlton welcomed the decision in a press release on Friday.
Knowlton said that UE had in the past “withstood attempts by the US government to silence us during the McCarthy era in the 1950s,” and was “unbowed by the latest attempt of a surrogate of the Israeli government to stifle our call for justice for Palestinian and Israeli workers.”
“The NLRB’s decision is a victory for the growing BDS movement across the US, which faces increasing political attempts to silence and intimidate critics of the Israeli government,” he added.
“As Americans who have a constitutional right to criticize our own government, we certainly have a right to criticize and, if we choose, boycott a foreign government that is heavily subsidized by US taxpayers,” Knowlton said.
The NLRB decision will encourage rank and file members in other unions who are battling bosses for the right to express and organize support for Palestinian rights.
The UE resolution that Shurat HaDin tried and failed to overturn calls on the US to end all military aid to Israel and for pressure on Israel “to end the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the siege of Gaza and negotiate a peace agreement on the basis of equality, democracy and human rights for the Palestinian and Israeli people, including Palestinian self-determination and the right of return for refugees.”
Unable to stem the growing grassroots support for Palestinian rights, and particularly the BDS movement, Israel and its surrogates have increasingly turned to repressive legislation and litigation.
Last month, Brooke Goldstein explained that the purpose of such lawsuits was to “make the enemy pay” – that “enemy” being comprised of practically anyone who organizes for Palestinian rights.
Goldstein, director of the Lawfare Project, a pro-Israel group founded with the support of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, has also asserted that “there’s no such thing as a Palestinian person.”
In April, several plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the American Studies Association, aimed at forcing it to undo its 2013 vote to boycott Israeli institutions.
John K. Wilson, an editor of Academe Blog, a publication of the American Association of University Professors, described the lawsuit as “frivolous litigation designed for the sole purpose of getting the government to suppress the freedom of speech of a private organization.”
But just this month, a one-person outfit called the Zionist Advocacy Center filed yet another frivolous lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs who are not even members of the American Studies Association.
Radhika Sainath, an attorney for the legal advocacy group Palestine Legal, told Inside Higher Ed that the complaint is “a meritless lawsuit based on a hypothetical injury that will be thrown out of court in a heartbeat.”
Electronic Intifada- 25/07/2015
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