February 17, 2012
A BDS motion passes at a Canadian university; the Olympia Food Co-op, heading to court, rallies supporters; Vancouver activists show no love for Israeli products on Valentine’s Day; an appeal to the Irish president to reject a state invitation to Israel; and Palestinian youth urge France to stop selling weaponry to the Israeli military.
BDS motion passed at University of Regina, Canada
The Students Against Apartheid (SAIA) solidarity group in Regina announced earlier this week that the university’s student body adopted a BDS motion "as a means of pressuring Israel to comply with international and human rights law."
SAIA-Regina’s statement reads, in part:
This resolution is a huge first step towards the full divestment of the University of Regina from companies complicit with the human rights violations currently taking place in Palestine. Plans are already in motion for SAIA, together with the University of Regina Student Union (URSU) and other members of the community, to begin investigating URSU’s portfolio for companies that support or profit from Israeli war crimes, as well as collectively launching an education campaign on campus about the issue.
Olympia Food Co-op facing lawsuit for their BDS action
In Olympia, Washington, the Olympia Food Co-op (OFC) has been under attack by anti-boycott groups and individuals, including Stand With Us, who have filed a lawsuit against the co-op’s board members after OFC became the first grocery store in the country to adopt BDS policy and de-shelved Israeli products. Before the court date on 23 February, the co-op has put out a statement of solidarity to which local and national organizations can officially sign and endorse.
The first court hearing will be on Thursday, February 23, 9 AM, in Thurston County Superior Court, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW, Building 2, Olympia, Washington.
The statement of solidarity reads, in part:
We call on the plaintiffs to exercise the Co-op’s democratic option – bringing the boycott of Israeli goods to a member vote – instead of launching an aggressive lawsuit which seriously threatens the well-being of a cornerstone of the Olympia community. Lawsuits intended to silence and intimidate those who speak out against injustice should have no place in a democratic society.
For over three decades, the Co-op has enriched the Olympia community by striving to provide healthy, local, and sustainable food, and has rightly understood food sovereignty as one piece of the larger project of building a better world. From its emphasis on cooperative self-management, to its unswerving support for the local sustainable agriculture movement, to its persistent refusal to carry goods produced in ways that conflict with its core values, social justice has always been integral to the Co-op’s mission. The lawsuit against the Co-op is an attack on this commitment to social justice, and, by extension, on all of us who raise our voices against injustice and in the hope of creating a better world. For, as the author James Baldwin once wrote to wrongfully imprisoned Angela Davis, "if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night."
VIDEO: "No Love for Israeli Apartheid"
BDS activists in Vancouver, Canada held a Valentine’s Day picket in front of Lavan Vancouver — a cosmetic store that sells products made from the Dead Sea and stamped "Made in Israel." Protesters with the Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign held signs adorned with red and pink hearts that read "Lavan soap whitewashes Israeli occupation," amongst others, and a giant papier-mache puppet of Israeli Foreign Minister (and settler) Avigdor Lieberman also made an appearance. A mock cardboard wall was also on display.
Demonstrators also held signs that expressed solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, who has been on hunger strike for more than sixty days in protest of his chargeless detention and torture.
In the video that the activists made, four police cars showed up at the protest — and one of the store’s supporters "grabbed and attempted to run off with the apartheid wall."
In a similar action in downtown Chicago, protesters attempted to deliver a giant valentine’s day heart-shaped petition to President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters which urged him and his administration to stop funding Israel’s apartheid policies. The petition was signed by dozens of Chicago residents, and the giant card was emblazoned with the web address for the recent Love Under Apartheid campaign.
Irish president urged to reject state invitation to Israel
Irish president Michael Higgins, who has a longstanding record of support of Palestinian rights, has been invited to Israel as a guest of the Israeli government. Higgins has said that he would consider the invitation put forward by Shimon Peres, Israel’s president.
Dervla Murphy, a well-known Irish writer, published a public appeal to Higgins urging him to stand with the Palestinian-led boycott campaign and reject Israel’s invitation. In his statement, published in the Irish Examiner, Murphy writes:
Were you, as President, to visit Israel, you would be signalling to all the world that this country approves of a truly vicious regime.
For whatever reason, Ireland’s Government (and most others) choose to "continue to act as normal". To maintain friendly relations as though Israel’s repression of the Palestinians were some isolated error of judgement, when in truth it is central to the state’s existence and has been since 1948.
Therefore, neutrality is not an option. We all have a moral duty to be hostile to a government that deliberately and relentlessly inflicts so much suffering on successive generations of a people who did nothing to deserve the Zionists’ colonisation of their territory.
BDS is the most powerful non-violent means available. If millions say, "we cannot continue to act as normal" while the repression continues, then things would change and everyone would be much closer to binationalism, which is the only solution.
If Higgins decided to accept the invitation, it would surely be a symbolic gesture of support for a government he has openly condemned in the past. When Higgins was elected, the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) congratulated him and stated:
President Higgins has an honourable and long-standing record as a supporter of Palestinian human and political rights.
On 13th April 2008 he joined an IPSC demonstration that marched from the Central Bank in Dublin to the Dáil in remembrance of the 1948 Israeli massacre at Deir Yassin. In his speech he said:
"This demonstration is an opportunity to once again call on the State of Israel to cease its senseless, oppressive policies towards the people of Palestine and to enter a genuine dialogue for peace. It is past time that the international community discharged its debt to the Palestinian people, who have waited too long for normality and peace to reign in their lives. The international community must assist in making this happen through solidarity, support and international law."
Palestinians to French government: "Stop killing our people"
The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign published a report on two protests that happened in front of the French consulate in Jerusalem and the French cultural center in Ramallah on 2 February, in which youth demonstrators rallied against a French-Israeli military deal worth $500 million. The deal, which was signed last summer, involved the acquisition of unmanned surveillance drones from Israel Aerospace Industries.
The report added:
The activists targeting the French institutions to express their outrage against French complicity with the Israeli military and Israeli war crimes held up banners calling for an immediate military embargo against Israel and for a boycott of Israel. They shouted slogans denouncing this latest deal betwen Israel and the French government.
Aghsan Barghouti, a youth activist, comments: "We are gathering here to tell the French government that this drones deal is a show of utter disrespect of international law and they should stop immediately buying Israeli weapons that are killing the Palestinian people. By buying these Israeli military products they are supporting the killing of the Palestinian people: we need a full and comprehensive military embargo on Israel now!"
On 20 July the French Ministry of Defence took the decision to buy from Israel more than 318 million euros worth of war weapons. Reportedly, this decision has now been approved by the French parliament. However, in France, activists and solidarity organizations have launched a widespread campaign to oppose this deal.
Further roll-on protests are planned for the coming weeks in other Arab countries in front of French institutions.