Category Archives: BDS

30+ NYU Student Groups Pledge Non-cooperation with NYU Tel Aviv (Mondoweiss)

30+ NYU Student Groups Pledge Non-cooperation with NYU Tel Aviv

We, the undersigned student clubs, pledge to not participate in or apply to study abroad programs hosted at NYU Tel Aviv. Our participation would render us complicit in the state of Israel’s targeted discrimination against activists and Palestinian and Muslim students. In January 2018, Israel released a list of twenty organizations whose members are denied entry into the country because of their endorsement of the Palestinian call for BDS (Boycotting, Divesting from, and Sanctioning Israel).

The University, as an adoptee of AAUP principles of academic freedom, has the duty to uphold these standards throughout the Global Network University (GNU) and be proactive in addressing any violations of these principles. NYU must upgrade its commitment to ensure equal access to GNU sites and to appeal decisions of entry within the Global Network. Until then, the members of our clubs will not study away and/or visit NYU Tel Aviv.

In the Spring of 2018, the NYU Student Government Assembly passed a resolution expressing concern over the lack of global mobility and cited NYU Tel Aviv as a case study. Citing the U.S. Department of State’s website, the resolution cites the fact that “upon arrival at any of the ports of entry, Palestinians, including Palestinian-Americans, may wish to confirm with Israeli immigration authorities from what location they will be required to depart. Some have been allowed to enter Israel or visit Jerusalem but told they cannot depart Israel via Ben Gurion Airport without special permission, which is rarely granted. Some families have been separated as a result, and other travelers have forfeited airline tickets.”

Recently, we have been seriously troubled by the case of University of Michigan Associate Professor John Cheney-Lippold, in which after refusing to write a recommendation for a student’s study in Israel application, has been arbitrarily punished through a freezing of his pay and a cancellation of all sabbaticals for the next two years. This sets a dangerous precedent, in which departments have the ability to unjustly penalize faculty simply for their support of Palestinian human rights. As a department, we stand within solidarity with Cheney-Lippold and any faculty and students that support the Israeli academic boycott for Palestinian human rights.

We, the undersigned student clubs, pledge to not participate in or apply to study abroad programs hosted at NYU Tel Aviv.

Signed,

  1. African Students Union
  2. Aftab
  3. Asian American Political Activism Coalition
  4. Bella Quisqueya
  5. Black and Brown Coalition
  6. Black Student Union
  7. Brownstone Publication
  8. CampGrrl
  9. Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc
  10. Incarceration to Education Coalition
  11. International Socialist Organization
  12. Jewish Voice for Peace at NYU
  13. La HerenciaLatina
  14. LUCHA – Latinos Unidos Con Honor y Amistad
  15. Muslim Graduate Student Group
  16. Muslim Students Association
  17. NYU Against Fascism
  18. NYU Disorient
  19. NYU Dream Team
  20. NYU GSOC UAW Local 2110
  21. NYU Law Students for Justice in Palestine
  22. NYU MEXSA
  23. Pakistani Students Association
  24. Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
  25. PorColombia
  26. Sanctuary
  27. SHADES
  28. Students for Justice in Palestine
  29. Student Labor Action Movement, United Students Against Sweatshops Local #44
  30. T Party
  31. The Incarceration Education Coalition
  32. Young Democratic Socialists of America

Letter to the University of Michigan President Regarding John Cheney-Lippold (AAUP)

Letter to the University of Michigan President Regarding John Cheney-Lippold

The AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance has sent a letter to the president of the University of Michigan responding to the university’s statement that it will discipline professor John Cheney-Lippold for his decision not to write a letter of recommendation for a student. Cheney-Lippold was sent a letter by the interim dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, notifying him of actions that she had taken as a result of her determination that his “conduct ha[d] fallen far short of the University’s and College’s expectation for how LSA faculty interact and treat students.”

From AAUP’s letter:

The Association’s interest in the case of Professor Cheney-Lippold stems from our longstanding commitment to academic freedom and tenure, the basic tenets of which are set forth in the enclosed 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.That document, a joint formulation of the AAUP and the Association of American Colleges and Universities, has received the endorsement of more than 250 educational and professional organizations. . . .

. . . [c]harges that may lead to the imposition of severe sanctions are to be preceded by an informal inquiry conducted by a duly constituted faculty committee charged with determining whether proceedings for imposing sanctions should be undertaken. Following such a determination, AAUP-supported standards require an administration to demonstrate adequate cause for imposing a severe sanction in a hearing of record before an elected faculty body.

Click here to download the full letter to the University of Michigan

File:
Michigan-Cheney-Lippold.pdf

Publication Date:
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

AAUP, AFT, Rutgers Faculty Union Oppose DOE Investigation

AAUP, AFT and Rutgers Faculty Union Oppose Education Department Investigation 

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, American Association of University Professors President Rudy Fichtenbaum and Rutgers AAUP-AFT President Deepa Kumar issued the following joint statement in response to the Trump administration’s probe into anti-Semitism at Rutgers University:

“We are currently living in a period when racist and xenophobic hatred is being seen more and more on college campuses. The events in Charlottesville, Va., during the summer of 2017 are seared in our memory, but the issue remains: Earlier week, anti-Semitic fliers were plastered around the campus of University of California, Davis; Sacramento City College was defaced with swastikas; and the president of the United States continues to claim that George Soros is funding his opposition. In light of that, we would expect this administration—particularly the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights—to use its limited resources to investigate serious offenses that threaten the safety and civil rights of students on these campuses. 

“Instead, the department has chosen to reopen a 7-year-old case and investigate in particular an allegation that only certain students were charged fees to attend an event organized by a pro-Palestinian group called Never Again for Anyone. This event brought together people of all religions and activists from both sides, including Holocaust survivors, to discuss the nuances of a complicated issue. It is exactly the type of open dialogue we should be encouraging on our college campuses. The initial claim that any criticism of Israel and its policies toward Palestinians—at this event or any other—is anti-Semitic, was mistaken, and the initial investigation of the incident by the Department of Education under the Obama administration said just that.

“Now, years later, the DeVos Education Department is trying to use the Office for Civil Rights to expand the definition of anti-Semitism to include criticism of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. This is a very dangerous move, as what happened on the Rutgers campus seven years ago was a free exchange of ideas, expressly allowed by the First Amendment, and such an exchange of ideas should be welcomed on our campuses—even when they’re ideas with which we disagree. Religious bias is far different than a discussion of a nation-state’s policies. 

“We are very concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism in America. What we cannot countenance, however, is the Trump and DeVos administration attempting to equate advocacy for Palestinians with anti-Semitism. That is dead wrong. Our unions are committed to both the free expression of ideas and to challenging racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism on our campuses. The fight against hate is undermined when Trump administration officials attempt to equate political debate with racial, ethnic or religious intolerance. If our institutions of higher learning cannot provide space for open political debate, then democracy will wither even more under this administration.”

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UK Labour Party must reject biased antisemitism definition that stifles advocacy for Palestinian rights (Palestinian Unions)

UK Labour Party must reject biased antisemitism definition that stifles advocacy for Palestinian rights

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Welcoming the significant growth in recent years of progressive politics centred on social justice and internationalism in the UK, especially within the labour movement, we, Palestinian trade unions, mass organisations and networks, representing the majority in Palestinian civil society, call on the British Labour party, trade unions, city councils, universities and civil society at large to reject the IHRA’s false, anti-Palestinian definition of antisemitism.

This non-legally binding definition attempts to erase Palestinian history, demonise solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, suppress freedom of expression, and shield Israel’s far-right regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid from effective measures of accountability in accordance to international law.

The discredited IHRA guidelines deliberately conflate hostility to or prejudice or discrimination against Jews on the one hand with legitimate critiques of Israel’s policies and system of injustice on the other.

Palestinians last year marked 100 years of the Balfour Declaration, which played a significant role in supporting and entrenching the Zionist colonisation of Palestine. This typically colonial British declaration constituted a declaration of war against our people. It facilitated the birth of the exclusionary state of Israel that maintains a regime of apartheid and systematically oppresses the indigenous Palestinian people, stripping us of our fundamental and UN-recognised rights, including the rights to equality and self- determination and our refugees’ right to return to their homes of origin.

We concur with British Palestinian personalities who have asserted that:

[A]ny use by public bodies of the IHRA examples on antisemitism that either inhibits discussion relating to our dispossession by ethnic cleansing, when Israel was established, or attempts to silence public discussions on current or past practices of [Israeli] settler colonialism, apartheid, racism and discrimination, and the ongoing violent military occupation, directly contravenes core rights. First, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, who remain protected by international laws and conventions; and second, the rights of all those British citizens who stand by our side, in the solidarity of a common humanity.

We recognise the severe pressure being placed on public bodies in the UK, and globally, to adopt this politicised and fraudulent definition of antisemitism. We would assert that those in the UK have a particular moral, political and arguably legal obligation to atone for historic and current British crimes against the Palestinian people and complicity in maintaining Israel’s regime of oppression. We appeal to them to:

1.     Consistently uphold the UK Human Rights Act, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the right to freedom of expression, including in narrating Palestine’s well-documented colonial history, advocating for Palestinian rights, describing Israel’s regime of oppression as racist or as constituting apartheid, and calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as nonviolent measures of accountability to bring about its compliance with its obligations under international law and its respect for Palestinian rights.

2.     Unequivocally uphold the UN-stipulated rights of the people of Palestine,particularly:

●     The right to live free of military occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem;

●     The right to full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel who currently suffer under a system of legalised and institutionalised racial discrimination;

●     The inherent and legally upheld right of Palestine refugees to return to their homes of origin from which they have been ethnically cleansed during the Nakba and ever since.

3.     Officially endorse a military embargo on Israel, as called for by Palestinian civil society, Socialist International, UK political parties (including Liberal DemocratsGreens, and Scottish National Party), the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC), many development NGOs (including Oxfam and Christian Aid), dozens of British MPs, cities across Europe, Amnesty International, globalfigures, among others. In 2017 alone, the UK arms exports to Israel reached $284m, setting a record.

4.     Unambiguously condemn all forms of racism and bigotry, including Israel’s more than 60 racist laws, especially its latest constitutional law, the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law, that effectively “enshrines Jewish supremacy” and apartheid, as defined by the UN.

Adopting the IHRA definition (with its examples) would not only demonise our present struggle for liberation and self-determination. It would also “silence a public discussion [in the UK] of what happened in Palestine and to the Palestinians in 1948”, as over 100 Black, Asian and other minority ethnicities (BAME) groups in the UK have cautioned. It would also chill advocacy for Palestinian rights, including by vilifying and maligning our nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

Anchored in our own decades-long heritage of popular resistance and inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and the US Civil Rights movement, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated BDS movement is supported by an overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society. It is also endorsed by progressive movements representing millions worldwide, including a fast-rising number of Jewish millennials.

BDS is rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and adheres to the UN definition of racial discrimination. It therefore “does not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia, or homophobia”.

Redefining racism against a particular community to serve the political goal of precluding or vilifying the struggle against other forms of racism is immoral and outright racist. It should be condemned by all morally-consistent progressives.

Israel’s utter failure to suppress the impressive growth of BDS across the world in the last few years has prompted it to redefine antisemitism to desperately malign our strictly anti-racist movement.

As leading Jewish British intellectuals and legal experts have stated:

Criticising laws and policies of the state of Israel as racist and as falling under the definition of apartheid is not antisemitic. Calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel to oppose those policies is not antisemitic.

We agree with the analysis of more than forty Jewish social justice organisations worldwide that we live in “a frightening era, with growing numbers of authoritarian and xenophobic regimes worldwide, foremost among them the Trump administration, allying themselves with Israel’s far right government while making common cause with deeply antisemitic and racist white supremacist groups and parties”.

We also echo their appeal:

We urge our governments, municipalities, universities and other institutions to reject the IHRA definition and instead take effective measures to defeat white supremacist nationalist hate and violence and to end complicity in Israel’s human rights violations.

We need no one’s permission to accurately narrate our history, defend our inherent and inalienable rights, or mobilise principled international solidarity with our struggle to achieve them.

But we expect social-justice oriented political parties, like Labour, and progressive trade unions to effectively contribute to ending British complicity in Israel’s system of oppression that denies us our rights, to protect the right to freedom of expression, and to stand on the right side of history. We expect them to help us in the struggle against apartheid and for equal rights of all humans irrespective of identity. Is this too much to expect?

Signatories:

–    General Union of Palestinian Workers

–    Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition

–    Palestinian Union of Postal, IT and Telecommunication workers

–    Union of Professional Associations

–    Federation of Independent Trade Unions

–    Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate

–    Palestinian New Federation of Trade Unions

–    General Union of Palestinian Teachers

–    General Union of Palestinian Women

–    General Union of Palestinian Peasants

–    Union of Palestinian Farmers

–    General Union of Palestinian Writers

–    The Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)

–    Palestinian Camps Boycott Movement-Lebanon (33 organisations from 11 refugee camps)

–    Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)

–    Palestinian National Institute for NGOs

–    Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC)

–    Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW)

–    Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

–    Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations

–    Women Campaign to Boycott Israeli Products

–    Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem

–    Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Initiative

–    Agricultural Cooperatives Union

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (Vancouver & District Labour Council)

BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, AND SANCTIONS

At the June 19, 2018 Regular meeting of the Vancouver & District Labour Council, delegates present passed the following motion in support of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel in response to the country’s actions against the Palestinian people.

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BECAUSE article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to territory it occupies; and             

BECAUSE the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) violate international law; and

BECAUSE Israeli settlement expansions in the OPT are an undeniable obstacle to the Israel – Palestine peace process; and  

BECAUSE Israel has continued, despite international pressure, to expand its settlements and to demolish Palestinian homes and other infrastructure in the OPT; and

BECAUSE UN Resolution 194 establishes the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands and properties; and

BECAUSE Canada and other nations have previously succeeded in ensuring respect for human rights through the use of economic and political sanctions, including in the case of South Africa; and

BECAUSE the world has watched in horror as dozens of unarmed Palestinian protestors have been killed, and hundreds wounded, by Israeli military forces in recent weeks,

THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL support the use of boycott, divestment and sanctions (“BDS”) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the OPT; and

THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL FURTHER support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in the OPT, and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state; and

THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL FURTHER support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel dismantles the apartheid wall, recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, ceases the use of excessive force against protestors, and respects the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194; and

THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL FINALLY oppose all efforts to prohibit, punish or otherwise deter expressions of support for BDS.

GEO Calls for AFT/IFT Solidarity with Palestine

GEO Calls for AFT/IFT Solidarity with Palestine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

19 June 2018

GEO Calls for AFT/IFT Solidarity with Palestine

We, the Graduate Employees Organization at UIUC, AFT/IFT 6300 have watched in outrage, sadness, and horror as Israeli snipers have maimed and murdered Palestinian children, young adults, journalists, and medical first responders in Gaza over the past month. Much of this violence was committed simultaneously with the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem: as a Christian extremist anti-Semitic U.S. pastorgave the prayer for the opening ceremony, as a virulently anti-Black rabbi blessed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as ordinary Israeli citizens cheered and chanted for IDF soldiers to “burn them, shoot them, kill them” in reference to non-violent Palestinian protesters, and as wealthy politicians sipped champagne and celebrated.

How many people in the U.S. labor movement are aware that Palestinian workers held a general strike on May 15, Nakba Day, in protest of incrementally-genocidal Israeli settler colonization? How many U.S. labor leaders have declared solidarity with Palestinian workers? How many U.S. labor unions have followed in the great tradition of transnational anti-colonial labor solidarity by standing with Palestine against a genocidal process currently led by anti-labor extremists such as Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu? How many U.S. labor unions have followed the example of labor unions globally by declaring support for the non-violent BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement?

We are saddened and disappointed that our own AFT/IFT leadership have a history not only of silence on these matters, but complicity with the racist and genocidal regime that guns down unarmed Palestinians in the open air prison that is Gaza.

We are saddened and disappointed in the hostility that AFT leaders such as Randi Weingarten have expressed to the internationally-respected and non-violent tactic of BDS. Such leaders are out of touch and out of step with the rank and file of our union. We, the GEO, proudly endorsed a Divestment campaign led by Palestinian students on our campus this academic year (2017-2018), and we plan to do likewise next year. We call on AFT/IFT leadership to unequivocally, and in an unqualified manner, condemn Israel’s murderous aggression and blatant human rights abuses against Palestinians, and to act in substantive solidarity with the Palestinian people who are struggling against racism, apartheid, and colonization—struggling for freedom. A labor movement that does not fight for justice against the bullies of the world is no labor movement at all.

Palestine must be free!

The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), IFT/AFT local 6300, AFL-CIO, is a member-run labor union and represents Teaching and Graduate Assistants (TAs and GAs) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In November 2009, and more recently, earlier this year in February 2018, GEO members and allies participated in a strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.

For more information, please contact us geo@uigeo.org. More information can also be found on our website at www.uiucgeo.org.

Twitter: @geo_uiuc Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm Instagram:@geo_uiuc

CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS ENDORSES “PEACE IN PALESTINE” CAMPAIGN (CJPME)

Montreal, October 5, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is thrilled to announce that the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has officially endorsed its Peace in Palestine campaign. The campaign is a strategy to get Canada’s parliamentarians to pass a motion calling for an end to Israel’s illegal “settlements” (a.k.a. colonies.)

The CLC is the largest labour organization in Canada, representing 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC’s endorsement of “Peace in Palesine” follows on more than 50 years whereby the CLC has supported policies and programs that seek to promote positive social change. CJPME President Thomas Woodley responded enthusiastically, “We are excited to see Canada’s largest labour organization boldly stand up for human rights at home and abroad.”  CJPME encourages other Canadian civil society organizations to stand up for social justice as the CLC has.

A core component of the Peace in Palestine campaign is a Parliamentary ePetition calling on the government to “demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.” The ePetition mirrors the wording of UN Security Council resolution 2334 (December 2016), and has the sponsorship of NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Helène Laverdière. CJPME has launched a four-month cross-Canada campaign promoting this Parliamentary petition and the follow-up Parliamentary motion CJPME hopes this campaign inspires.

Over 70 unions and organizations have already endorsed the Peace in Palestine campaign. Other organizations wishing to endorse the campaign may do so on-line.  Canadian individuals are also encouraged to sign the Parliamentary ePetition, thus demonstrating support for the “Peace in Palestine” campaign, respect for Palestinian human rights, and promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

 

About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.

For more information, please contact Miranda Gallo, 438-380-5410
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org

The whole or parts of this press release can be reproduced without permission.

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Canadian teacher Nadia Shoufani defeats silencing campaign against her advocacy for Palestinian freedom (Samidoun)

Canadian teacher Nadia Shoufani has won a significant free-speech victory after a year-long battle and a prolonged campaign by pro-apartheid Zionist organizations attacking her and attempting to have her fired from her job for speaking about Palestinian prisoners at a public rally in 2016.

“A victory for myself, for the Palestine solidarity movement, for freedom of expression! A victory for the Palestinian cause and the struggle of Palestinians!” said Shoufani in a Facebook post on 8 September offering thanks to friends, colleagues and supporters for their consistent support throughout a year of struggle. Shoufani kept her job and defeated the allegations that targeted her as well as ongoing racist campaigns of harassment carried out by far-right groups and individuals. Organizations including B’nai Brith Canada, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center Canada were actively involvedi in the campaign to silence Shoufani.

“Their goal was to destroy my reputation and livelihood and ultimately make me lose my job, but they were defeated! It’s true they targeted me but their ultimate goal was to send a silencing message to intimidate and scare anyone who speaks in support of Palestinians and to put a chill on people,” Shoufani wrote, but the attack in fact led to “more support and created more awareness of the Palestinian cause.”

“The attack that I was put through was not just an attack against me, it was ultimately against every voice that speaks and calls for the freedom and justice of Palestinians who are living under and suffering daily from a brutal occupation and apartheid, with the ultimate aim to silence them and silence any criticism of ‘Israel’, the occupying power,” Shoufani wrote in her social media post.

Shoufani was attacked for her remarks at the 2 July 2006 Al-Quds Day protest, particularly her comments about Ghassan Kanafani and her support for imprisoned Palestinians and strugglers for Palestine, specifically Bilal Kayed – then on hunger strike – and Georges Ibrahim Abdallah.

Shoufani quoted Ghassan Kanafani, the Palestinian writer, political leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and intellectual assassinated by Israel on 8 July 1972: “The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary…a cause of the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.”

“On this day…we need to salute and acknowledge, stand in solidarity and demand the release of prisoners, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons,” said Shoufani in her speech. “We salute and demand the freedom of Bilal Kayed…who was scheduled to be released on June 13th after 14 and one-half years of imprisonment. Instead of being released, he was ordered to six extra months of adminsitratioe detention without charge or trial…Bilal Kayed has launched an open hunger strike demanding his freedom. This illegal Israeli order of administrative detention is seen as an attempt to set a precedent of the future indefinite detention of Palestinian prisoners after the completion of their sentence.”

She linked the attack on Kayed and fellow Palestinian prisoners to the imprisonment of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, Lebanese Arab struggler for Palestine, imprisoned in French jails for 33 years, demanding his immediate release.

“I urge you to speak up, to resist this occupation, and support the steadfastness of Palestinians, support their resistance, in any form that is possible. I urge you to support BDS – boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. This is the least we can do here in Canada,” said Shoufani, closing with a rousing chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

Shoufani was defended after being suspended with pay by her Toronto-area Catholic school board by her trade union, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.  Union activists, Palestine solidarity organizers, professors and organizers collectively spoke out in support of Shoufani and against the attacks from right-wing organizations attempting to silence her and force her from her teaching position.

The attack on Shoufani has come in the context of ongoing attacks on freedom of speech about Palestine in Canada, including attempts to legislate against BDS and parliamentary resolutions denouncing boycott campaigns.  This comes amid an ongoing, relentlessly pro-Zionist policy pursued by the Liberal government under Justin Trudeau, continuing the notoriously anti-Palestinian policy of Conservative Stephen Harper. Canadian support for Israeli occupation didn’t begin with Harper, but dates back to the Balfour Declaration and Lester Pearson’s recommendation to the United Nations to create the Israeli state. This role has always been distinctly related to the Canadian state’s own settler colonial nature, based on the continuing dispossession and genocide of Indigenous peoples.

Recently, Niki Ashton, a leading candidate for the leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada, was attacked by B’nai Brith and other pro-apartheid organizations for participating in a rally commemorating the Nakba and in support of Palestinian political prisoners.

In particular, right-wing Zionist organizations attacked Ashton for speaking in front of a sign urging freedom for imprisoned Palestinian leader Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretaty of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Following the attacks, rather than backing down, Ashton reiterated her support for Palestinian rights and noted that it was “powerful to join many at a rally in solidarity with those on hunger strike in Palestine.” Ashton is one of the front-runners in the NDP leadership campaign and has won support from many youth and progressive voices.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Nadia Shoufani and all of those involved in the campaign to defend her right to speak and right to teach. Her clear and principled voice in defense of Palestinian rights and freedom – and the struggle of Palestinian prisoners in particular – is one that cannot be silenced. As she noted, “Our fight for justice and a free Palestine will not be over and the path ahead will always have obstacles and difficulties, but as long as we believe in a cause so embedded in us, we will persevere! No such attacks will stop us, nor will they intimidate or silence us. On the contrary this will make us stronger believers in our fight for justice and freedom. We will never be silent until we win and justice prevails!”

Unifor Canadian Council passes BDS motion at Winnipeg convention

Unifor Canadian Council passes BDS motion at Winnipeg convention

Congratulations to the Unifor’s Canadian Council on easily passing a pro-Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) motion at their recent convention in Winnipeg, between August 18-20.

Submitted by Unifor Local 222 (Oshawa), Unifor Resolution No. 5 is titled “Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” and reads in part:

“… BE IT RESOLVED that Unifor supports the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions (“BDS”) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the OPT; and […] BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Unifor will support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in the OPT, and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state ; and THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that Unifor opposes all efforts to prohibit, punish or otherwise deter expressions of support for BDS.”

During the summer 2014 bombing of civilians in Gaza, the Palestinian trade union movement, with support from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and its affiliates, unanimously called on international trade unions to take immediate action to stop the Israeli massacre in Gaza and hold Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

They wrote: “… civil society solidarity is the only force that can help stop the ongoing slaughter of our people and send them a message that they are not alone, exactly as effective international solidarity had done in supporting the struggle for freedom in apartheid South Africa […] In the face of this international inaction, we, the Palestinian trade unions, call on trade unions around the world to take urgent measures, and in particular to intensify Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with international law.”

The entire resolution as passed can be downloaded here:

http://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/attachments/final_resolutions_eng_2017-07-27.pdf

See the complete list of Unifor resolutions: http://www.unifor.org/en/whats-new/news/canadian-council-resolutions

Our heartiest congratulations to members of Unifor Local 222 who crafted, submitted and argued in favour of the successful motion supporting BDS tactics.

Updated: 100 Groups Call on Congress to Oppose Israel Anti-Boycott Act

Updated: 100 Groups Call on Congress to Oppose Israel Anti-Boycott Act

IABA statement logos3.jpg

Updated August 31, 2017 

One hundred national and local civil and human rights organizations endorsed a joint statement to members of Congress expressing strong opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and calling on lawmakers to reject – rather than amend – the bill.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced in the U.S. Congress in March 2017, amends anti-boycott provisions of the federal Export Administration Act (EAA), enacted in 1979. Those provisions prohibit specific actions taken to comply with or support a boycott of Israel “fostered or imposed” by a foreign country. The sponsors of the new Act propose to add new restrictions on boycotts “fostered or imposed” by an international governmental organization (IGO), such as the European Union or the United Nations. Violations are punishable by exorbitant fines and up to 20 years in prison.

Due to widespread outrage over the bill, its chief Senate sponsor, Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin, has stated that he is open to amending the bill to remove criminal penalties. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand withdrew sponsorship from the bill in early August, saying that she could not support it “in its current form.” But amending the bill does not resolve its underlying problems, including the chilling effect it will have on constitutionally-protected speech.

The full statement is below. Click here for a PDF version.

Note: We will continue to update the statement with new endorsements. If your organization would like to endorse the statement, please fill out this form.


Oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act

We are a diverse group of civil and human rights organizations writing to express our strong opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720 and H.R. 1697) (Act). We call on you to publicly oppose this unconstitutional, draconian bill and to affirm the First Amendment right of all people in the United States to support political boycotts as a means to achieve justice and equality for Palestinians.

The Act amends anti-boycott provisions of the federal Export Administration Act (EAA), enacted in 1979.1 Those provisions prohibit specific actions taken to comply with or support a boycott of Israel “fostered or imposed” by a foreign country. The sponsors of the new Act propose to add new restrictions on boycotts “fostered or imposed” by an international governmental organization (IGO), such as the European Union or the United Nations. Violations are punishable by exorbitant fines and up to 20 years in prison.

This amendment would seriously threaten fundamental First Amendment freedoms and discourage U.S. individuals, businesses, nonprofits or others from supporting boycotts for Palestinian rights. Even if the bill were amended to remove penalties, its passage would still send a message that political boycotts for Palestinian rights are disfavored by the government, causing a severe chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech.

The Act would chill protected speech despite the fact that under its terms, it should not reach the vast majority of boycott activities related to Israeli government policies. Most boycotts for Palestinian rights are not conducted in response to a call for boycott from a foreign country or IGO, but are acts of conscience seeking justice and equality for Palestinians and Israel’s compliance with international law. Indeed, people across the United States are increasingly using strategies involving boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights.

The United States has a long and rich history of boycotts being used to take collective action to advance social justice and secure civil and human rights. Boycotts helped end racial segregation in the United States and apartheid in South Africa. More recently, boycotts helped end a regressive North Carolina law targeting transgender people, and boycott and divestment campaigns have been organized to end university investments in the private prison and fossil fuel industries.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that peaceful political boycotts are protected by the First Amendment.2 The government may not enact laws that would punish those who support political boycotts or compromise the right to support political boycotts.

The Act’s chief Senate sponsor, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, has written that the Act does not target political boycotts.3 Instead, he claims, it merely expands preexisting law to prohibit U.S. businesses from complying with boycott requirements imposed by IGOs. In other words, he argues that the bill does not prohibit political speech but targets “commercial conduct,” which is afforded a lower level of constitutional protection.4

Senator Cardin’s interpretation fails to consider the following:

·         Political speech activities would be directly prohibited by the Act.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would directly prohibit political speech activities, in violation of the First Amendment. Consider the situation of a human rights organization that distributes research on companies operating in illegal West Bank settlements. This organization could be in violation of the Act if the organization’s intent is to support a call by an IGO to boycott settlements.

·         The Act would empower overzealous presidential administrations to target supporters of political boycotts.

We have no doubt that the Act would be used as a pretext for overzealous presidential administrations, lobbied by Israel advocacy groups (including those that support this bill), to investigate and even punish supporters of Palestinian rights, whether or not they actually support a call for boycotts by an IGO, which they must do to trigger the Act. Arab and Muslim communities will likely face the brunt of this potential for overbroad enforcement.

From 2014 through 2016, Palestine Legal responded to 650 incidents of suppression nationwide targeting speech supportive of Palestinian rights, an additional 200 requests for legal assistance in anticipation of such incidents, and dozens of efforts to enact federal, state and local laws aimed at punishing BDS activism and chilling speech supportive of Palestinian rights.5 Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights documented this pattern of suppression of Palestinian rights advocacy in a 2015 report, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the U.S.6

As such, our belief that the Act, if enacted, would be enforced in this way is based on a well-researched pattern of suppression of First Amendment-protected speech and actions in support of Palestinian rights involving heightened government surveillance, investigations and prosecutions of individuals due to their support for Palestinian freedom, as well as private harassment and targeting, including by organizations that support the Act.

·         The Act will have the effect of chilling First Amendment-protected political speech.

Despite Senator Cardin’s efforts to insist the Israel Anti-Boycott Act doesn’t target political conduct, the leading lobby group for U.S. support of Israel, America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), itself frames it as a measure to “Combat the BDS Movement.”7  In the past two years, 21 states have enacted laws aimed at punishing participation in political boycotts for Palestinian rights.8 Together with these state laws, the Act will create a severe chilling effect on people across the country who are otherwise inclined to support First Amendment-protected boycotts for Palestinian rights, or who are merely curious to learn more. The wave of anti-BDS legislation, promoted by Israel advocacy groups to undermine the movement for Palestinian rights in the United States aims to send a clear signal that support for Palestinian rights is disfavored by our government and is potentially punishable.

Statements by state officials and Israel advocates illustrate their intent to thwart grassroots boycott campaigns. For example, when a state senator in Washington introduced an anti-BDS bill, he said, “If students want to protest on campus and do what students do, that’s just fine. But we’ll settle the question for them, the adults in [the] legislature.”9 The leader of one Israel advocacy group boasted, “[w]hile you were doing your campus antics, the grown-ups were in the state legislature passing laws that make your cause improbable.”10

Amending the Act to reduce the associated penalties or otherwise will not solve the underlying problems listed above, which illustrate how it is unconstitutional. We call on members of Congress who currently support the Act to withdraw their sponsorship. And we call on all members of Congress to publicly oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and to affirm the First Amendment right to support political boycotts – including those aimed at achieving justice and equality for Palestinians.

Signatories (listed alphabetically)

  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • American Friends Service Committee
  • American Muslims for Palestine
  • Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • CODEPINK
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Defending Rights and Dissent
  • Friends of Sabeel – North America
  • Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
  • Labor for Palestine
  • National Lawyers Guild and the National Lawyers Guild Palestine Sub-Committee
  • Palestine Legal
  • Project South
  • Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East
  • United Church of Christ
  • United Methodists for Kairos Response
  • U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
  • U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights
  • U.S. Palestinian Community Network
  • War Resisters League

 

This statement has been endorsed by the following organizations, listed by state (updated August 31, 2017):

Alabama

  • Birmingham Peace Project

Arizona

  • Arizona Progressive Coalition – AZPC Inc.

California

  • 14 Friends of Palestine
  • Arab American Civic Council
  • Buena Vista United Methodist Church
  • Chico Palestine Action Group
  • Culture and Conflict Forum
  • Democrats for Palestinian Equal Rights
  • Friends of Sabeel, Sacramento Region
  • International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity
  • Israel Palestine Task Force of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area Chapter
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles Chapter
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Sacramento Chapter
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, San Diego Chapter
  • Northern California International Solidarity Movement
  • QUIT: Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism
  • Sacramento Area Peace Action
  • Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights
  • Students for Justice in Palestine at California State University, Fullerton
  • United Methodists’ Holy Land Taskforce
  • Wellstone Progressive Democrats of Sacramento

Connecticut

  • Connecticut Peace and Solidarity Coalition
  • Greater New Haven Peace Council
  • Ironworkers Local 15
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, New Haven Chapter
  • Promoting Enduring Peace
  • Tree of Life Educational Fund
  • We Refuse to be Enemies

District of Columbia

  • U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations

Florida

  • Jewish Voice for Peace, South Florida Chapter
  • National Lawyers Guild, South Florida Chapter

Illinois

  • Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
  • Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy
  • Committee for Just Peace in Israel-Palestine
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Chicago Chapter
  • National Lawyers Guild, Chicago Chapter
  • Students for Justice in Palestine at UIUC

Kentucky

  • Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Maryland

  • Baltimore Palestine Solidarity
  • Committee for Palestinian Rights
  • Freedom2Boycott Maryland
  • Friends of Sabeel DC Metro Area

Massachusetts

  • Adalah Justice Project
  • Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
  • Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights
  • Common Ground for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land, Inc.
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Boston Chapter
  • Massachusetts Peace Action
  • Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment

Missouri

  • Mid-Missourians for Justice in Palestine

New York

  • Adalah-NY: Campaign for the Boycott of Israel
  • Black Movement-Law Project
  • Brooklyn for Peace
  • Columbia/Barnard Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Columbia University Apartheid Divest
  • Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center
  • Concerned Families of Westchester
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Westchester Chapter
  • Jews Say No!
  • The Majlis Ash Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of New York
  • Muslim Peace Fellowship
  • Palestine Solidarity Alliance of Hunter College
  • Peace Action New York State
  • Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
  • Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
  • Syracuse Peace Council
  • USA-Palestine Mental Health Network
  • WESPAC Foundation
  • Westchester Coalition against Islamophobia

Oregon

  • Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights
  • Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land

Pennsylvania

  • Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition

Vermont

  • Green Mountain Solidarity with Palestine

Virginia

  • Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
  • Virginia Coalition for Human Rights

Washington

  • Vancouver for Peace

 


1 ↩ The EAA expired in 2001. 50 U.S.C. §4622 (1977). It has been purportedly continued by executive order.

2 ↩ NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982).

3 ↩ Ben Cardin, Setting the Record Straight: Nothing in the Israel Anti-Boycott Act restricts constitutionally-protected free speech, Medium, July 20, 2017, https://medium.com/@SenatorBenCardin/setting-the-record-straight-nothing-in-the-the-israel-anti-boycott-act-restricts-constitutionally-13bfa7428d8.

4 ↩ Although one provision of the EAA was upheld on commercial speech grounds, the law was never challenged for its restrictions on political speech. Briggs & Stratton Corp. v. Baldridge, 728 F. 2d 915 (7th Cir. 1984). As described in this document, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would significantly increase the law’s infringement on political speech.

5 ↩ Palestine Legal, Year-in-Review: Palestine Legal Responded to 258 Incidents in 2016, available athttp://palestinelegal.org/2016-report.

6 ↩ Palestine Legal and Center for Constitutional Rights, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the U.S. (2015), available athttps://www.palestinelegal.org/the-palestine-exception.

7 ↩ See AIPAC, Fight The Boycott of Israel, http://www.aipac.org/learn/legislative-agenda/agenda-display?agendaid=%7BB499D12C-C5ED-4CA6-93CF-61266D842328%7D.

8 ↩ www.RightToBoycott.org.

9 ↩ Dyer Oxley, Senator: Colleges are being used as ‘politically-correct batons,’ MyNorthwest.com, Jan. 2, 2017, http://mynorthwest.com/500618/senator-baumgartner-bds-bill.

10 ↩ Eitan Arom, As BDS opponents move from campuses to state capitols ,California is up next, JNS.org, April 13, 2016, http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2016/4/13/as-bds-opponents-move-from-campuses-to-state-capitols-california-is-up-next-1#.VzyMuULfjww=.