Monthly Archives: May 2016

UW-Madison Union of Graduate Student Workers (TAA) Endorses BDS Movement (TAA/AFT Local 3220)

TAAFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2016

Media contact: psc.taa@gmail.com

UW-Madison Union of Graduate Student Workers (TAA) Endorses BDS Movement

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.

During a two-week vote distributed to all union members, the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA/AFT Local 3220) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the oldest graduate student labor union in the United States representing over 9,000 graduate workers and students, voted overwhelmingly (81% of voting members) in favor of adopting a resolution to divest from Israeli state institutions and international corporations complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the ongoing violations of Palestinians’ human rights.

In doing so, the TAA joins other graduate student unions UAW 2322 at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, UAW 2865 at the University of California System, and UAW 2110 at New York University, who have stood in solidarity with Palestinian Civil Society’s call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) as a non-violent tactic to put political and economic pressure on Israel until it ends the occupation and its violation of human rights and international law. The resolution also calls on the TAA’s employer, the University of Wisconsin System, and parent international, the AFL-CIO, to divest from the state of Israel and companies that contribute to and profit from the military occupation and oppression of Palestinians.

The TAA Palestine Solidarity Caucus (TAA-PSC) began an open process in September 2015, holding roundtables, discussions, and encouraging a platform where all opinions about Israel/Palestine were welcomed. Through countless conversations with fellow union members over the course of this year, TAA-PSC discovered the following realities:

  1. Palestinian labor and trade unions have sought solidarity from graduate worker unions for ten years
  1. The AFL-CIO is complicit in financing the occupation of Palestine in holding approximately $5 billion in Israeli Government Bonds
  1. The U.S., by sending over $3 billion a year in military aid to Israel, is complicit in financing the occupation and oppression of Palestinians
  1. The day-to-day working conditions and the realities of the students graduate assistants teach, study, and work with are directly related to the rise of spending on militarism and the consequential disinvestment from public universities and the public sector as a whole.

From these realities emerged the responsibility to join global movements against racism, colonialism, and other systems of exploitation, and to democratically ask union members to join the BDS movement to put pressure on Israel to end the military occupation of Palestine.

At a time when Israel is limiting free speech and the principles of democracy by policing and limiting the movement of BDS supporters within the West Bank and Israel and criminalizing advocacy for BDS, U.S. states are introducing resolutions that make engaging in the non-violent strategy of BDS illegal, and parent unions are voiding democratic votes that called for BDS, the TAA still strongly believes in the difficult practice of democracy. It is only by valuing and creating platforms for all ideas and opinions that the labor movement will be strong.

*****
TAA is the oldest graduate student labor union in the United States and advocates for a university that is fair to all—including students, workers, and their families. Graduate student workers perform nearly half of all the instruction that takes place at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, while also taking classes and conducting research. The University works because we do.

[Text of resolution]

Resolution: Standing in Solidarity with the Palestinian Civil Society and Joining the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (TAA/AFT Local 3220)

TAA[Adopted by membership vote, May 18, 2016]

Resolution: Standing in Solidarity with the Palestinian Civil Society and Joining the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement. 

WHEREAS, the Constitution of the Teaching Assistant Association states that one of the objectives of the TAA is to “cooperate with other labor organizations in particular and other segments of our society in the achievement of common goals,” and

WHEREAS, the TAA has a long history of standing in solidarity with oppressed people around the world, including historically calling for divestment from Apartheid South Africa and recently standing against racism and police brutality as evident in the TAA endorsement of YGB demands and joining the nationwide movement in support of racial and economic justice following the recent incidents at the University of Missouri, and

WHEREAS, our day-to-day working conditions and the realities of the students we teach, study, and work with are directly related to the rise of spending on militarism and the consequential disinvestment from public universities and the public sector as a whole, and

WHEREAS, Article II of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all people “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”[1] are entitled to the rights enumerated therein, and

WHEREAS, The United Nations has declared in Resolution 242[2] that Israel must withdraw all armed forces from territories occupied in recent conflicts, in Resolution 446[3] that the policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in Palestine since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East, and in Resolution 194[4] that Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes should be allowed to do so, and

WHEREAS, the International Court of Justice has found that Israel has routinely conducted acts of collective punishment, including demolition of homes, land confiscation, and the construction of the wall between Palestine and Israel,[5] all which violate the Fourth Geneva Convention,[6] and

WHEREAS, Amnesty International has stated that “Israeli forces have committed unlawful killings of Palestinian civilians, including children, and detained thousands of Palestinians who protested or otherwise opposed Israel’s continuing military occupation, holding hundreds in administrative detention,”[7] and

WHEREAS, despite these calls by the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, and international human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Israel continues to deny Palestinians the human rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination through their policies of colonization, racial discrimination, and military occupation, and

WHEREAS, examples of these continued violations include not only the fact that over 500,000 Israeli Settlers continue to live within 237 West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements[8] in violation of the Article 49 of Fourth Geneva Convention, which states the “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory that it occupies,”[9] but also Israeli businesses in these settlements contribute to continued confiscation of Palestinian water and land[10], and

WHEREAS, this confiscation of Palestinian water rights in the West Bank means that Israeli settlers use six-times the amount of water as Palestinians[11] meaning that many Palestinians who live in the 60% of the West Bank that is under complete Israeli military and domestic control (Area C) live on less than 60 liters per day,[12] well below the World Health  Organization’s recommendation of 100 liters per person per day,[13] and

WHEREAS, these discriminatory water policies are coupled with the expansion of Israeli agriculture projects, the creation of a network of racially segregated roads in the West Bank,[14] and the lack of Palestinian authority over much of its land, its borders, and its water, has led numerous individuals like President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to compare Israel to an apartheid state.[15]

WHEREAS, Israel has continued to violate the Fourth Geneva Convention by conducting a campaign of housing demolitions under the pretenses of building structures without approval in Area C locations, despite the fact that 94% of all applications for building are rejected, has left more than 4,652 Palestinians homeless in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 2011, and

WHEREAS, Israel operates an apartheid legal system, whereby Israeli children under 14 cannot be sentenced to jail and only 6.5% of minors over the age of 14 receive prison terms, but Palestinian children as young as 12 can be incarcerated under Israeli Military Law, and 90% of detained Palestinian children over the age of 12 will face prison, and

WHEREAS, according to official Israeli state data, the state provides three times as much funding for Jewish students as Palestinian students[16], and

WHEREAS, Palestinians living in Israel who represent 20% of the population, but only hold 6% of all civil service employment (the largest employer in Israel),[17] and Palestinian citizens face discrimination in work opportunities and pay and conditions due to inadequate implementation of equal-opportunity legislation and exclusion from military service, which is a major criterion for employment, and

WHEREAS, the United Nations estimates that there are still five million Palestinian refugees who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict,[18] and

WHEREAS, despite this ongoing tragedy, Israel remains the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II, as to date it has received 124.3 billion in bilateral assistance and which continues at the rate of 3.1 billion USD per year,[19] and

WHEREAS, in response to the failure of the world community to hold Israeli accountable for these continued human rights violations, in 2005, Palestinian civil society, consisting of over 170 Palestinian parties, organizations, trade unions, and movements called for their counterparts and people of conscience around the world to launch a campaign of broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives and demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognized in full compliance with international law, and

WHEREAS, this campaign should continue against the state of Israel until it meets the requirements of 1) Ending Israel Occupation and Colonization of all Arab lands occupied in 1967 and dismantling the wall 2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality 3) respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194, and

WHEREAS, Universities have frequently been the sites of student activism on issues ranging from the Chicano movement,[20] to the Civil Rights Movement, and divestment from Apartheid South Africa.

WHEREAS, the Wisconsin State Legislature recognizes the role of the universities in upholding human rights by stipulating in State Statue 36.29 in reference to the University of Wisconsin System that “No investment of the funds of such gifts, grants, or bequests shall knowingly be made in any company, corporation, subsidiary, or affiliate that practices or condones through its actions discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, or sex,” and

WHEREAS, the Broad of Regents University of Wisconsin System upholds this duty through Regent Policy 31-13[21]: “Social Responsibility and Investment Considerations,” which acknowledges that “all investments made in any company, corporation, subsidiary, or affiliate that practices or condones through its actions discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, creed or sex, shall be divested in as prudent but rapid a manner as possible. Furthermore, The Board of Regents, to facilitate the application of this statute, interprets the language above as follows The words “that practices or condones through its actions” shall be interpreted to mean “employing persons in nations which by their laws discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, creed or sex.”

WHEREAS, in particular the University of Wisconsin – Madison, operates on the “Wisconsin Idea” in that what happens at this school must impact people’s lives beyond the classroom; and

WHEREAS, the University of Wisconsin System has upheld these statues and the “Wisconsin Idea” through the 2006 Regent Policy document 31-16[22] that divests from “business activity that provide support to current government of Sudan,” and previously in 1978 within divestment from the apartheid regime of South Africa,[23] and that these policies have set the precedent for divesting from companies who do business with oppressive regimes as this business activity is a form of condoning those oppressive actions, and

WHEREAS, all major trade unions in Palestine have endorsed BDS and this call has been joined by UAW Local 2865 (Graduate Student Union of the University of California), UAW Local 4121 (University of Washington academic student workers), AFL-CIO Connecticut, United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, the International Long Workers Union Local 10 in Oakland, UK National Union of Teachers (Europe’s largest Teacher Union), Unite (the largest union in the UK and Ireland), the Teacher Union of Ireland, the Norwegian Trade Union Congress, Public Services International, ITUC Africa (Africa’s largest trade union federation), the CUT (Brazil’s largest trade union), the major trade unions of Basque, major unions in Australia, FIOM-CGIL (the largest trade union in Italy), the Scottish Trade Union Congress, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, the Catalan Workers Union, the Canadian Union Postal Workers, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and other unions across Europe, Australia, and Africa to show solidarity with the people of Palestine, and

WHEREAS, we are complicit in financing the occupation of Palestine through our dues, as our parent union of the AFL-CIO owns approximately 5 Billion USD in Israeli Government bonds[24], and

WHEREAS, we believe that to create lasting peace and safety for all people of Israel, requires addressing the structural injustices facing the Palestinians that are at the root of this conflict, and

WHEREAS, the struggle for justice in Palestine has been waged in Palestine and Israel by Palestinian laborers and civil society, and Israelis who are refusing military service, joining in on non-violent struggles, and speaking up for human rights and condemning occupation, and it is our responsibility to join in struggle with those working towards a more just world, and

WHEREAS, as we struggle for labor and fair working conditions in Wisconsin we have a responsibility to honor the radical acts of global solidarity that built and nurtured the foundation that our union sits upon, to acknowledge the intersections our struggle has with global movements against racism, colonialism, and other systems of exploitation, and to explore, dialogue, and imagine what solidarity looks like, therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Teaching Assistant Association endorses the BDS movement and urges the union at all levels to become engaged in BDS and the movement for peace, justice and equality between the Palestinians and Israelis, and

RESOLVED that Teaching Assistant Association will call on the government of the United States of America to end military aid to Israel, and

RESOLVED that the Teaching Assistant Association will call on fellow local unions and our parent union of the AFL-CIO to divest their investments including pension funds from Israeli institutions and companies complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people and companies that provide revenues to the Israeli government through business with the government, as well as decline to conduct business with said companies, until Israel complies to the precepts of international law by specifically: 1) Ending the occupation of Arab lands and dismantling the wall 2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinians citizens of Israel to full equality 3) Respecting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

RESOLVED that the Teaching Assistant Association will call on the University of Wisconsin System to divest their investments including pension funds from Israeli companies complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people and companies that provide revenues to the Israeli government through business with the government, as well as to decline to conduct business with said companies, until Israel complies to the precepts of international law by specifically: 1) Ending the occupation of Arab lands and dismantling the wall 2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinians citizens of Israel to full equality 3) Respecting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
1 http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

2 https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/7D35E1F729DF491C85256EE700686136

3 https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/NR0/370/60/IMG/NR037060.pdf?OpenElement

4 http://www.unrwa.org/content/resolution-194

5 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1677.pdf

6 https://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/385ec082b509e76c41256739003e636d/6756482d86146898c125641e004aa3c5

7 https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/israel-and-occupied-palestinianterritories/

8 https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/01/19/israel-businesses-should-end-settlement-activity

9 https://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/385ec082b509e76c41256739003e636d/6756482d86146898c125641e004aa3c5

10 https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/01/19/israel-businesses-should-end-settlement-activity

11 http://www.alhaq.org/publications/Water-For-One-People-Only.pdf

12 http://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20140212_discrimination_in_water_allocation

13 http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases/WSH03.02.pdf

14 http://www.maan-ctr.org/old/pdfs/Apartheid%20Roads.pdf

15 http://www.alhaq.org/publications/Water-For-One-People-Only.pdf

16 http://www.adalah.org/uploads/oldfiles/upfiles/2011/Adalah_The_Inequality_Report_March_2011.pdf

17  http://www.adalah.org/uploads/oldfiles/upfiles/2011/Adalah_The_Inequality_Report_March_2011.pdf

18 http://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees

19 https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

20 http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/Chicanomovement_part1.htm

21 https://www.wisconsin.edu/regents/policies/social-responsibility-and-investment-considerations/

22 https://www.wisconsin.edu/regents/policies/sudan-divestment/

23 https://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/university-wisconsin-students-win-divestment-apartheid-southafrica-1969-1978

24 https://bamdadi.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/the-case-for-sanctions-against-israel-bamdadi-com.pdf

Palestinian labour movement welcomes Fuecys union in Uruguay support for Israel boycott (Palestinian Trade Unions)

BNCPalestinian labour movement welcomes Fuecys union in Uruguay support for Israel boycott

 

The Palestinian labor movement welcomes the declaration from the Human Rights Secretariat of the Uruguayan Federation of Workers of Services and Commerce (Fuecys) calling for the boycott of Israeli products and for companies in Uruguay to break their ties with Israel’s apartheid. We salute this principled commitment and concrete initiative of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

We also deeply appreciate the public support that the Trade Union Centre of G4S employees in Uruguay has extended to the campaign against the British security company G4S. The company has lost contracts worth millions of dollars in more than a dozen countries during the four-year long global campaign lead by the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement over its role in in Israeli prisons that hold Palestinian political prisoners, settlements and checkpoints.

We stand in solidarity with the Uruguayan G4S workers, whose labor rights are being violated by G4S and other international corporations.

We hope the whole of PIT-CNT, Uruguay’s Federation of Labor Unions, will decide to support the Palestinian appeal issued in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations, including all Palestinian parties and trade unions, to turn rhetoric solidarity into effective actions by joining the BDS movement.

Trade union support for BDS in Latin America and around the world is continuously growing. Fuecys and the whole of PIT-CNT should join important unions in the region that already support the BDS movement, such as CUT, CSP-Conlutas, and CTB, from Brazil, and CTA and CTA Autónoma, from Argentina.

From India to Sweden, South Africa and the United States, trade unions and workers have blocked Israeli ships from docking, dozens of trade unions and their confederations are actively pressuring corporations and governments to cut relations with Israel and join campaigns of boycotts, divestments and sanctions.

Trade unions that have already spoken out in opposition to the role that G4S plays in the oppression of Palestinians include Unite and Unison in the United Kigdom, Dutch union Abvakabo, Norwegian union Industri Energi and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

As COSATU already in 2006 stated: “Boycotts, disinvestments and sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa hastened our march to democracy. Why should it be different for Palestinians? In the face of an intransigent, arrogant, racist and brutal Israeli state, this strategy of isolation – particularly since the vast majority of Palestinians support it – should be applied to Israel as well. It is a peaceful option.”

In fact, the global movement that contributed to the end of apartheid in South Africa inspired the Palestinian movements and unions to call on people of conscience all over the world to apply non-violent pressure on Israel until it respects the international law and the Palestinian human rights.
The growing impact of the BDS movement is giving new hope to the Palestinian struggle, and and boycotts, divestment and sanctions have become fundamental elements of solidarity for all those that truly want to support the Palestinian cause.

From Palestine to Latin America, we are united against all forms of oppression and discrimination. Fellow workers in Uruguay, your effective solidarity with our struggle for freedom, justice and equality is more crucial today than ever!

Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) – Gaza Strip

Palestinian Federation of Independent Trade Unions

The Palestinian Federation of New Unions

General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW)

El movimiento obrero palestino celebra la declaración de la Secretaría de Derechos Humanos de la Federación Uruguaya de Empleados de Comercio y Servicios (FUECYS), la cual llama al boicot de productos israelíes y pide que empresas en Uruguay rompan sus lazos con el régimen de apartheid israelí. Saludamos este compromiso y esta iniciativa concreta de solidaridad con la lucha palestina por libertad, justicia y igualdad.

También apreciamos profundamente el apoyo público que el Centro Sindical de Trabajadores de G4S de Uruguay ha extendido a la campaña en contra de la compañía de seguridad británica G4S. La compañía ha perdido contratos de millones de dólares en más de una docena de países durante la campaña mundial de cuatro años del movimiento global de Boicot, Desinversión y Sanciones (BDS) como consecuencia de su papel en las cárceles israelíes que mantienen prisioneros/as políticos/as palestinos/as, en las colonias ilegales y en los puestos de control de Israel.

Manifestamos nuestra solidaridad con los trabajadores/as de G4S Uruguay, cuyos derechos laborales son violados por G4S y otras corporaciones internacionales.

Esperamos que la totalidad del PIT-CNT tomará la decisión de apoyar el llamamiento palestino hecho en 2005 por más de 170 organizaciones palestinas, incluyendo todos los partidos políticos y sindicatos palestinos, para convertir la solidaridad retórica en acciones efectivas al unirse al movimiento BDS.

El apoyo sindical al BDS en América Latina y en todo el mundo está en continuo crecimiento. FUECYS y el conjunto del PIT-CNT deben unirse a sindicatos importantes de la región que ya apoyan el movimiento BDS, como la CUT, CSP-Conlutas, y CTB, de Brasil, y la CTA y la CTA Autónoma, de Argentina.

De India a Suecia, de Sudáfrica a los Estados Unidos, sindicatos y trabajadores/as han impedido atracar a barcos israelíes en los puertos, decenas de sindicatos y sus confederaciones están presionando activamente a corporaciones y gobiernos para reducir las relaciones con Israel y unirse a las campañas de boicot, desinversiones y sanciones.

Los sindicatos que ya se han pronunciado en contra de la función que desempeña G4S en la opresión del pueblo palestino incluyen Unite y Unison en el Reino Unido, el sindicato holandés Abvakabo, el noruego Industri Energi y el Congreso de Sindicatos de Sudáfrica (COSATU).

Como COSATU ya en 2006 declaró: “Los boicots, desinversiones y sanciones contra el régimen del apartheid en Sudáfrica aceleraron nuestra marcha hacia la democracia. ¿Por qué debería ser diferente para los/as palestinos/as? Frente a un intransigente, prepotente, racista y brutal Estado israelí, esta estrategia de aislamiento – sobre todo porque la gran mayoría de los/as palestinos/as la apoya – se debe aplicar a Israel. Es una opción pacífica”.

De hecho, el movimiento global que contribuyó al fin del apartheid en Sudáfrica inspiró a los movimientos y sindicatos palestinos a pedir a las personas de conciencia de todo el mundo que apliquen presión no violenta en Israel hasta que éste respete el derecho internacional y los derechos humanos del pueblo palestino.

El creciente impacto del movimiento de BDS está dando una nueva esperanza a la lucha palestina, y los boicots, desinversiones y sanciones se han convertido en elementos fundamentales de la solidaridad para todos aquellos que realmente quieren apoyar la causa palestina.

Desde Palestina a Latinoamérica, estamos unidos contra todas las formas de opresión y discriminación. Compañeros/as trabajadores/as de Uruguay, hoy su solidaridad efectiva con nuestra lucha por libertad, justicia y igualdad es más importante que nunca!

Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) – Gaza Strip
Federación General de Sindicatos de Palestina – Franja de Gaza

Palestinian Federation of Independent Trade Unions
Federación Palestina de Sindicatos Independientes

The Palestinian Federation of New Unions
Federación Palestina de Nuevos Sindicatos

General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW)
Sindicato General de Trabajadores/as Palestinos/as

– See more at: https://bdsmovement.net/2016/palestinian-labour-movement-welcomes-fuecys-union-uruguay-support-israel-boycott-14128#sthash.CbgMUZqt.dpuf

UK unions urge G4S to end Israel occupation role now (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

UK unions urge G4S to end Israel occupation role now

151204-g4s (1)
G4S has been protested by Palestine solidarity campaigners worldwide.

Anne PaqActiveStills

The leaders of some of the UK’s biggest trade unions and campaign groups are asking UK-based multinational security firm G4S to clarify its announcement that it “expects to exit” the Israeli market and sell its Israeli subsidiary.

G4S is being pushed for information about when the sale will take place and to commit to immediately stop working with Israeli bodies that are involved in human rights abuses, such as Israeli occupation forces and the Israel Prison Service.

The letter is signed by Unite the Union,UNISON, the National Union of Teachers, construction union UCAAT and the Fire Brigades Union, as well as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want, and the Stop G4S UK campaign.

Broken pledges

When G4S announced in March that it intends to sell its Israeli subsidiary, the news was welcomed as a significant step forward for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

At the same time, it was clear that the pressure had to continue because G4S has a long track record of breaking its promises.

For example, a pledge G4S made in 2012 to end its involvement in Ofer prison and Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank by the end of 2015 was never translated into reality.

Now G4S is being pushed to turn its words into actions by trade unions representing millions of workers in the UK.

“We are concerned that [G4S] continues to provide services to Israeli state bodies that commit serious violations of international law and Palestinian human rights and that the announcement of a sale of G4S Israel may be used to justify ongoing complicity in human rights violations,” the letter states.

The full text of the letter addressed to G4S CEO Ashley Almanza and the six detailed questions it asks are at the bottom of this article.

The letter comes ahead of the company’s annual shareholders meeting on 26 May, where activistsplan to protest the company’s ongoing complicity.

The last five annual meetings have been met with strong protests and disruptions by campaigners over the company’s role in human rights abuses in Palestine, the UK and around the world.

The company has moved this year’s meeting out of Central London to Sutton in the far southwest of the city to try to discourage protests.

Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights UK recently published an analysis arguing that the G4S announcement that the firm “expects to exit” Israel falls short of a firm commitment and that “withdrawal should take place immediately or as soon as practicable, rather than the nebulous stated period of 12-24 months.”

Campaign spreads

The fact that the world’s biggest security company and one of the world’s largest private employers is even talking about exiting the Israeli market is testament to the impact of the international campaign against the company.

Clearly, all the negative media attention, the lost contracts with businesses, universities and unions and the decision to divest by investors including the Bill Gates Foundation and the United Methodist Church are worrying G4S.

It is likely that the decisions by three UN bodies in Jordan to stop working with the company and thevote by the executive of the UK Labour Party to stop using the company at its annual conference were all particularly painful for G4S.

The international campaign against G4S was first activated in Europe but is now increasingly spreading to the Arab World, Latin America and the US.

Last week, BDS Egypt held the public launch of its campaign against G4S and campaigns against the firm are now ongoing in Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco and Jordan.

A major restaurant chain in Colombia recently cut its ties with G4S following a campaign by BDS activists in the country and a G4S campaign is ongoing in Brazil.

The Trade Union Center of G4S employees in Uruguay also endorsed the campaign against G4S.

A coalition of US groups recently launched the g4sfacts.org website which details the role that the company plays in numerous human rights violations, including in Palestine and in US and UK youth detention facilities.

Urgent Action: Sign appeal to the UN about Israel’s war of repression on BDS — and other news from Labor for Palestine

View in PDF format: LFP Update 3

Screenshot 2016-05-17 17.58.54Update 4

Urgent Action: Protest Israel’s war on BDS
“We’re urging the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to take the necessary measures to uphold and protect the rights of Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders who campaign nonviolently for Palestinian rights, including through the BDS movement. Please click here to add your name to our appeal now.”


Update 5

May 21, 2016 NYC — Labor for Palestine at the Left Forum: Confronting Racism, Zionism & Injustice on the BDS Picket Line
How growing U.S. labor solidarity with Palestine is helping to rebuild a democratic, militant, anti-racist, effective workers’ movement — at home and abroad. Click here to RSVP and for full text.


Screenshot 2016-05-17 18.00.10


Update7

Posters Salute UAW 2110, 2322, and 2865 BDS Resolutions
Download here.


Update8

Response to President Hamilton, NYU
(GSOC Members for BDS)
“As with the boycott of Apartheid South African universities–which NYU eventually supported, revealing that the university has not always been categorically against such boycotts–we hope to create pressure so that Israel respects the freedoms of the Palestinians, including their academic freedoms.” Read full text.


Update9

UAW 2865 Condemns Horowitz Posters, Climate of Islamophobia and Racism
“Make no mistake, it is the repeated ignoring and delegitimization of Islamophobia, racism, and complicity in the routine suppression of pro-Palestine speech and activity on university campuses that allowed for the sort of escalation we have seen from David Horowitz and his followers, whose actions epitomize the often ignored intersection of Islamophobia, racism, and the demonization of pro-Palestine sentiment.” Read full text.


Update10

Amherst Professors: UAW Resolution affirms human rights (Daily Collegian)
“It is encouraging to us as faculty that GEO, the largest collective bargaining unit within UAW Local 2322, and representing over 2,000 graduate student workers at our flagship campus, voted overwhelmingly (95 percent) in favor of the resolution to stand in solidarity with Palestinian civil society. In doing so it became the second major body of unionized workers in the U.S. to formally join the BDS movement by membership vote.” Read full text.


Where Did The Palestinians Go?
In 1948, around 80% of Palestinians were forced out of their homes during the creation of Israel. That event is known as the Nakba, or “the Catastrophe.” So where did they go? And how many Palestinians are there around the world now?

May 21, 2016: Labor for Palestine at the NYC Left Forum: Building the BDS Picket Line Against Racism, Zionism, and Injustice

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May 21, 2016: Labor for Palestine at the NYC Left Forum: Building the BDS Picket Line Against Racism, Zionism, and Injustice

How U.S. labor solidarity with Palestine is helping to rebuild a democratic, militant, anti-racist, effective trade union movement — at home and abroad.

Includes discussion of:

*Labor for Palestine (2004-)
*ILWU Local 10 refusal to handle Israeli Zim Line cargo (2010, 2014)
*Adoption of BDS resolutions by graduate employee unions UAW 2865 (2014), GEO-UAW 2322 (2016), and GSOC-UAW 2110 (2016)
*United Electrical Workers (2015)
*Connecticut AFL-CIO (2015)

Panelists:

*Suzanne Adely, Co-Convener, Labor for Palestine; Co-Coordinator, Global Workers Solidarity Network
*Amal Ahmad, GEO-UAW 2322 (UMass-Amherst)
*Ziad Dallal, Steward, GSOC-UAW 2110 (NYU)
*Jaribu Hill, Founder, Mississippi Worker’s Center for Human Rights; Co-Founder, Southern Human Rights Organizers Network

Background Materials:

*Solidarity Rising: Two More UAW Graduate Employee Units Endorse BDS! (Labor for Palestine)
http://laborforpalestine.net/2016/04/26/solidarity-rising-two-more-uaw-graduate-employee-units-endorse-bds/

*America’s Labor Unions Are Increasingly Standing with Palestine (Alternet)
http://www.alternet.org/labor/americas-labor-unions-are-increasingly-standing-palestine

*New Labor for Palestine Pamphlet
http://laborforpalestine.net/2016/03/31/new-labor-for-palestine-pamphlet/

*Labor for Palestine: Challenging US Labor Zionism (American Quarterly)
http://laborforpalestine.net/2015/12/01/labor-for-palestine-challenging-us-labor-zionism-american-quarterly/

#Labor4Palestine #BDS

FSJP-UMB Supports UMA Union’s Boycott Resolution

BDS Demands1[May 16, 2016]

Press contact:

Prof. Jeffrey Melnick, American Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, (617) 838-0064

FSJP-UMB Supports UMA Union’s Boycott Resolution

For immediate release:

The Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine organization at the University of Massachusetts Boston (FSJP-UMB) joins our colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in congratulating their Graduate Employee Organization (GEO/UAW Local 2322) for its adoption of a resolution to join the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel.  The resolution calls on the graduate students’ employer and their union to divest from and boycott companies that fuel and profit from Israel’s military occupation and repression of Palestinians.

The largest collective bargaining unit within UAW Local Amalgamated 2322 (UAW 2322), GEO represents over 2,000 graduate student workers at the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts. This makes GEO the second major body of unionized workers in the U.S. to formally join the BDS movement by membership vote, after the 2015 vote of the graduate student workers at the University of California.

FSJP-UMB rejects the claim that the resolution is in any way discriminatory.  Rather, we agree with GEO workers that it is an expression of the profound truth that all struggles for freedom are linked.  Workers’ rights are intertwined with Palestinians’ rights, and liberation for some is incomplete without the liberation of all.  Palestinian students and faculty members are denied the basic academic freedoms of the right to travel and to be safe from military attacks on their own campuses.  As educators and staff committed to equal access to all forms of knowledge production, we stand against all forms of colonialism, racism, and apartheid.  These hierarchical forms of power relations make free intellectual inquiry impossible.

As educators and workers, FSJP-UMB stands in proud solidarity with UMass Amherst GEO.  BDS is a global grassroots movement, called for by Palestiniancivil society and major trade unions, to engage in non-violent, civil society pressure on the Israeli state until it ends its illegal occupation of Palestine and dismantles the Wall, grants equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and upholds Palestinian refugees’ right of return.  We will persist in this struggle until these goals are met and Palestinians and workers everywhere achieve justice and freedom.

New Yorkers march for justice and liberation for workers in Palestine and around the world (Samidoun)

Samidoun

New Yorkers march for justice and liberation for workers in Palestine and around the world

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Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network in New York City joined labor, social justice and migrant rights movements on 1 May to participate in the annual commemoration of May Day, International Workers’ Day, at Union Square. Samidoun joined the Palestine contingent organized by New York City Students for Justice in Palestine, marching for justice for Palestine and for workers in the US and internationally.

Samidoun members also participated in the Odessa Commemoration prior to the May Day rally, commemorating the deaths of the victims of the right-wing attack on the Trade Unions House in Odessa, Ukraine on 2 May 2014.

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During the Immigrant Worker Justice Tour following the rally, among a number of sites where participants stopped and chanted included Bank of America, a client of G4S, the massive security corporation that provides security systems, equipment and control rooms to Israeli prisons, checkpoints and police training centers; as well as Aroma Espresso Bar, the largest Israeli coffee shop chain and the subject of an international boycott campaign. Bank of America also invests in Corrections Corp of America and GEO Group, America’s largest for profit prison corporations.

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Other stops on the Justice Tour included Wendy’s, which is the subject of a boycott campaign supporting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food program fighting abuse of workers in US agriculture; Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and City Winery, whose baguettes are supplied by Amy’s Bread Factory, where many workers struggle to survive on meager wages and work two or three jobs.

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Palestinian and solidarity activists participated in May Day events around the world, including in Berlin, Hamburg and Paris, where slogans calling for freedom for Palestinian prisoners and the freedom of imprisoned Lebanese Communist struggler for Palestine, Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, were raised.

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In Palestine, Palestinian labor organizations marched in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine against siege and for the rights of workers, and workers’ role in the Palestinian liberation movement.

Photos by Joe Catron, Michael Letwin, Afif el-Ali, Somaya Badawi

Response to President Hamilton, NYU (GSOC Members for BDS)

GSOC is here to stayMay 3, 2016

Response to President Hamilton, NYU

Dear President Hamilton,

In response to your recent memo on the democratic decision of the graduate student union GSOC-UAW 2110 to endorse and join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, we would like to highlight some errors and register our disappointment in the manner it was issued.

First, your memo misrepresents the boycott and the referendum  Our vote for boycott never targets individual academics, but rather seeks to break ties with institutions that participate in the oppression of Palestinians and the curtailing of their human rights and academic freedoms. Under the academic boycott, no restrictions are placed on working with individual Israeli scholars–those following the boycott are still welcome to invite Israeli scholars to conferences, to co-author papers with them, and to coordinate research (so long as these scholars are not acting as official representatives of the Israeli state). What the boycott targets are institutional ties with Israeli universities and research institutes. For a full detailing of the academic boycott procedures, please refer to the guidelines provided by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural boycott of Israel (PACBI).

Furthermore, while your statement claimed that our vote called on NYU to “divest from all Israel-related investments”, in truth it calls on NYU to divest from “Israeli state institutions and international companies complicit in the ongoing violation of Palestinian human and civil rights”. We are calling for divestment based on companies’ conduct and role in the oppression of Palestinians, not divestment from any company vaguely “related” to Israel.

Second, we are disappointed that the memo does not acknowledge that this was a democratic referendum passed with strong support by 66% of voting GSOC members. Your dismissive attitude suggests that you have little regard for the actual concerns of NYU students, which have been given voice by GSOC’s vote. Moreover, the claim that the pledges of GSOC members could conflict with their responsibilities as employees of NYU is opaque, somewhat threatening, and certainly false. It is inappropriate for university officials to make vague, unsubstantiated gestures that suggest there might be negative consequences for individual graduate students who follow their conscience.

Third, your failure to address blatant human rights violations is appalling and insulting to both the cause of Palestinian human rights and the democratic vote put forth by the GSOC. This is yet another regrettable instance in which the lives of Palestinians are unaccounted for and their voices are silenced. Contrary to the memo, opponents of BDS are not the only ones who claim that their position is in favor of academic freedom. We, along with all supporters of BDS, are deeply concerned with academic freedom, and indeed, the shocking lack of such freedom for Palestinian universities, students, and academics is one of the reasons we have called for boycott. As with the boycott of Apartheid South African universities–which NYU eventually supported, revealing that the university has not always been categorically against such boycotts–we hope to create pressure so that Israel respects the freedoms of the Palestinians, including their academic freedoms.

We hope that out of respect for your graduate students and for justice, you issue a clarificatory statement acknowledging these errors.

Sincerely,

GSOC members for BDS

UAW 2865 Condemns Horowitz Posters, Climate of Islamophobia and Racism

Tikkun2May 2, 2016

UAW 2865 Condemns Horowitz Posters, Climate of Islamophobia and Racism

 

On Friday, April 15th, 2016, posters defaming individuals involved with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), and campaigns for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel, more broadly were discovered at UCLA. Commissioned by conservative agitator David Horowitz and likely circulated by unknown individuals working in collaboration, similar posters have also been confirmed at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and San Diego State University. While this is not the first time that Horowitz has circulated posters on university campuses attacking SJP and MSA, this latest round represents a serious escalation from Horowitz’s past efforts. In this most recent poster campaign, individual student and faculty names from each respective campus are prominently displayed beneath the charge of having “allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists to perpetrate BDS and Jew Hatred on campus” as a result of their supporting BDS and the broader Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination.

In addition to student activists in MSA and SJP, Horowitz also attacked two Black professors at UCLA as well as Angela Davis, a prominent activist combatting all forms of oppression in the US and abroad and Black professor from UC Santa Cruz, for their support of Palestinian rights. This is hardly unexpected from Horowitz, who in addition to his attacks on Muslims, has a long history of attacking the Black community. In 2001, Horowitz took out ads in campus newspapers including the Daily Californian which claimed that Black Americans should be “grateful” for slavery.

Horowitz’s poster campaign followed a recent incident at the University of California, Riverside which took place sometime over spring break in which graduate student offices and a faculty office were vandalized. The Chair of the department of Ethnic Studies, Dr. Dylan Rodriguez, identified the incident as “despicable acts of symbolic and cultural violence, threat and harassment.” He also said, “Women of color have been specifically targeted by these parties, and the available information makes it abundantly clear that these acts of violence are significantly motivated by anti-Muslim and Islamophobic sentiment and/or ideology.”

We in UAW 2865 condemn these posters as Islamophobic and racist fear-mongering tactics intended to chill and silence protected political speech. Though concerned by the woefully insufficient reaction of UC Berkeley administration as well as the complete lack of attention by officials at UC Santa Barbara, we are heartened by the swift administrative response from UCLA, whose Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion sent an email to the campus community denouncing the posters as intimidation and defending the integrity of SJP and MSA. Nevertheless, we hope that UC administrators will continue working to better implement SJP UCLA’s requests, which include a meeting between the Chancellor and Palestinian students on campus and training campus officials in recognizing, condemning and confronting Islamophobia and racism against people of Southwest Asian/North African background as they should any other form of institutional, ideological or interpersonal xenophobia and violence. We further hope that administrators on all other impacted campuses will take similar measures.

Although UCLA administrators have worked to address the needs of students there, UCSB administrators have been silent thus far. And Berkeley officials, though aware of the strong statement released at UCLA, opted to stop short of offering the same level of support. Instead they released an anemic statement that failed to provide the campus community with adequate context in understanding why these posters are so inaccurate, offensive, and dangerous. Horowitz has had a long history of surveilling college students on their very own campuses and his tactics of slander, intimidation and bullying have been experienced by multiple generations of student organizers. Yet even as some administrators in the UC have been quick to repudiate Horowitz’s actions, it is clear that they did not occur in a vacuum.

In May 2015, UC President and former Head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano opined that the UC Regents should adopt the State Department Definition of anti-Semitism, which equates virtually any criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism. In fact, the push for the UC Regents to adopt this definition was the result of years of effort by groups such as the AMCHA Initiative, the Zionist Organization of America, and the Brandeis Center to ensure that any and all  speech that advocates for Palestinian freedom through BDS and other non-violent educational activities on UC campuses are equated with anti-Semitism. This latest attempt to stifle support for Palestinian rights developed from various previously unsuccessful pursuits of Title VI complaints, each of which was dismissed by the Department of Education, alleging that BDS and pro-Palestine speech deprived Jewish students of equal access to a quality education. The clamor for the State Department Definition was only the most recent phase of this broader push to slow the growth of the BDS movements on UC campuses, and AMCHA founder and UC Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin (who was caught on video espousing repugnantly Islamophobic generalizations about Palestinian and Palestine solidarity student activists) admitted that enforcement of the State Department Definition would stigmatize BDS as anti-Semitic.

Despite the UC Regents’ claims to the contrary, the desire to abandon adoption of the State Department definition in favor of an ostensibly all-encompassing “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance” did not ultimately constitute a shift away from monitoring criticism of Israel on university campuses. This was made clear by the very selection of so-called “experts” who were to be consulted during the drafting process: all of them were men, one was a driving force for the racially exclusionary Proposition 209, and two are known to advocate for the suppression of speech critical of Israel. This panel represents a rather limited demographic of “experts” to weigh in on what is alleged to be an all-encompassing anti-oppression statement.

Accordingly, the struggles of various communities were superficially coopted in a cheap attempt to legitimize the statement’s direct and false equation between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Though the “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance” was ultimately amended before being passed to condemn instead “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism,” and though it remains technically unenforceable on constitutional grounds, we condemn the process of drafting the “Statement of Principles” and find the finished product to be disastrously and offensively out of touch with the on-the-ground realities university students face today. Among other portions, this disconnect is evidenced by a section from the introductory “Contextual Statement” about Islamophobia.

According to page 5 of the “Contextual Statement”:

“Terrorist attacks by self-described religious fundamentalists have fueled Islamophobic attacks against peaceful members of our communities who are–or are perceived to be–followers of Islam. These attacks and counter-attacks generate fear on UC campuses as much as they do outside the UC community, and they sometimes generate policy positions or statements that are perceived to be personal attacks that reflect prejudice or intolerance based solely on religious belief.”

Despite the fact that the UC Regents repeatedly prided themselves on having drafted a statement that included Islamophobia at their March 23rd meeting, this language comes appallingly close to apologia for Islamophobia in centering not the reprehensibility of Islamophobia itself nor the danger to those directly impacted, but rather the “fear” of the general UC community, and implying a cyclical parity between vigilante violence and Islamophobic bigotry and aggression. Most distressingly, the statement’s conclusion that this “cycle” of attacks and Islamophobic “counter-attacks” “generate[s] policy positions or statements that are perceived to be personal attacks that reflect prejudice or intolerance based solely on religious belief” paints Islamophobia as a matter of misperception, rather than a dangerously escalating phenomenon. It also does not recognize that the culture wars taking place on University campuses are largely informed by, funded through and incited by the University of California’s ties to privatized business profiting from war and militarization in the South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA) region. The statement gives no mention to rhetorics of intolerance and bigotry in the current Presidential election or US policy and structural and institutional violations of civil liberties impacting Arab, Muslim and SWANA peoples in the US as being tied to the rise of Islamophobia.

This is hardly the statement one would expect in response to a domestic climate in which politicians and public figures have seriously proposed interment for Muslims in the U.S.; when leading presidential candidates campaign on banning Muslims from entering the U.S. and glorify Islamophobic violence; when half of polled American voters support this proposed Muslim ban; when individuals are assaulted simply for speaking Arabic or wearing hijab in public;when Muslims (and those perceived to be Muslim) are removed from flights without explanation,, or for speaking Arabic, as recently befell a UC Berkeley student of Iraqi origin; when Islamophobic sentiment in the U.S. is so pronounced that the Department of Education feels compelled to issue an open letter warning educators to be vigilant about the climate for Muslim students.

These toxic attitudes have also entered U.S. policy, evidenced by a law signed last December that subjects European citizens of Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Sudanese descent to discriminatory screening and visa barriers to travel to the U.S. This law risks making U.S. citizens with national origins from those same countries into second-class citizens by causing the E.U. to reciprocate and subject them to visa discrimination as well. Even after the “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance” was passed, the UC Regents attempted to use their authority to intimidate the American Association of Anthropologists into voting against an academic boycott of Israeli institutions with a proven track record of perpetuating the occupation, discriminating against and denying Palestinians the very right to academic freedom on which the Regents claim to base their opposition, showing where their true priorities lie.

The statement’s take on other forms of racism and xenophobia, which are cheaply consolidated into a single paragraph and reduced to a matter of differences in “debates” on university campuses, is equally abysmal. Racism is transformed from a systemic issue to a matter of insensitive discourse, which is convenient given that it was the UC Regents who helped introduce structural inequality to the UC system by laying the groundwork for what would become proposition 209, which effectively decimated the enrollment rate and statistical and physical presence of students of color on UC campuses. Transmuting racism from a systemic issue to a matter of personal worldview and speech allows the UC Regents to deflect responsibility and complicity for the structural inequalities still inherent to the UC from both themselves as well as the administrators on each campus tasked with responding to student needs.

There is no denying that Horowitz’s posters are defamatory, racist, and Islamophobic. But when the UC Regents continue to prioritize the monitoring of discourse related to Palestine/Israel over acknowledging the clearly escalating levels of Islamophobia and racism on the national front, or when administrators on UC campuses remain glaringly uninformed about Islamophobia and racism, they are complicit in creating the very environment that leads to Horowitz’s incitement as well as the incident currently being investigated as a hate crime at UC Riverside.

Make no mistake, it is the repeated ignoring and delegitimization of Islamophobia, racism, and complicity in the routine suppression of pro-Palestine speech and activity on university campuses that allowed for the sort of escalation we have seen from David Horowitz and his followers, whose actions epitomize the often ignored intersection of Islamophobia, racism, and the demonization of pro-Palestine sentiment.

Whatever our demographic and/or political beliefs, all of us–students, faculty, and campus workers–deserve equal protection and an educational environment free from harassment and intimidation. But absent a genuine comprehension of the racism and harassment most directly affecting university students today, such a goal will be nothing more than a pipe dream to which UC officials can pretend to pay lip service through the denunciation of someone like Horowitz, who in fact is only capitalizing on an atmosphere that UC Regents and administrators have aided and abetted.

The full text and PDF of this statement, including relevant citations, can be found here.