TOWARD A JUST AND VIABLE PEACE IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE
A Survey of Diverse Approaches of Religious and Secular Groups Worldwide
An Ongoing Review by the Palestine-Israel Action Group,
Peace and Social Concerns Committee, Ann Arbor Friends Meeting
Additional information is welcome: email@example.com
World Council of Churches Central Committee
WCC advocates selective divestment from US companies like Caterpillar that profit from the Occupation, and from Israeli companies that depend on settlements for materials and labor, or that produce military equipment used to violate Palestinian human rights.
Churches with investment funds have an opportunity to use those funds responsibly in support of peaceful solutions to conflict. “Economic pressure, appropriately and openly applied, is one such means of action. “ (Adopted 2/05; reaffirmed 8/06) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sabeel (a Jerusalem-based international organization representing Palestinian Christians)
“There is a spiritual dimension to all investment.”
1. Earning money through investment in companies whose products and services are used to violate International Law and human rights is equivalent to profiting from unlawful acts and the oppression of others.
2. Continuing such investments, once the facts are brought to our attention, constitutes enabling harm to innocent civilians under Occupation and condoning illegal settlement policies that lead to human rights violations.
Sabeel cites Israeli human rights lawyer Shamai Leibovitz: “If the Jewish people are ever to become ‘a light of all nations’ and return to their core values of justice and human dignity, Israelis and Jews of conscience must call for effective measures to end the occupation of millions of Palestinians. I believe that selective economic pressure is the most effective way to end the brutal occupation.”
“The churches have exhausted all other options,” says Sabeel founder Naim Ateek, a Palestinian-Israeli Anglican priest. (See “Morally Responsible Investment: A Nonviolent Response to the Occupation,” 8/05. (www.fosna.org)
Anglican Church of England. General Synod, 2/06
Supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, the Synod overwhelmingly votes to support “morally responsible investment in the Palestinian occupied territories and, in particular to disinvest from companies profiting from the illegal occupation, such as Caterpillar Inc, until they change their policies.” The Synod asks its Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) to engage Caterpillar in “intensive discussions . . . with a view to its withdrawing from supplying or maintaining either equipment or parts for use by the State of Israel in demolishing Palestinian homes.” The Synod urges EIAG members 1) to visit Palestinian lands to see recent house demolitions and 2) “to give weight to the illegality under international law of the activities in which Caterpillar Inc’s equipment is involved.” The Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem urges action, asking the Synod if the church must “wait until there are no homes and no trees for our people to wake up. . . ” (www.anglicancommunion.org/)
Anglican Consultative Council, 5/05
Calls for “active engagement” by Anglican communions worldwide with companies that support the occupation of Palestinian lands or violence against innocent Israelis. It encourages investment that supports the infrastructure of a future Palestinian State. (www.anglicancommunion.org/)
Anglican Church of Kenya, 7/05
Joins in urging movement toward divestment from companies whose activities contribute to the occupation of Palestinian land or to violence against innocent Israelis. “You only have to go there and [you will] sympathize with the Palestinians, especially when it comes to the separation wall. . . and the mistreatment of the women and men at the roadblocks,” said Bishop Gideon Ireri, speaking after the Kenyan synod backed the 5/05 call of the Anglican Consultative Council. (www.episcopalchurch.org)
Anglican Church of Canada, 11/05
The Council of General Synod unanimously passed a resolution asking the eco-justice committee, with the help of Kairos, a Canadian ecumenical justice group, to research the activities of companies believed to be contributing to ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine, as well as those contributing to ongoing peace and economic stability in that region. The committee, along with the Financial Management Development Investment Subcommittee, should “explore a range of socially responsible investment strategies, including corporate engagement and positive investment or divestment.” The sponsoring bishop noted that the resolution was based on a motion from the Anglican Consultative Council recommending “that churches put pressure on firms that contribute to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, including the removal of investment funds in these companies as a last resort.” The resolution, passed unanimously, recommended the same action for companies that support violence against innocent Israelis. (anglicanjournal.com/132/01/canada15.html)
Episcopalian Executive Council (US), 10/05
EEC directs its Committee for Social Responsibility in Investments to undertake the following:
1. Corporate engagement via dialogue and shareholder resolutions, as appropriate, to encourage companies to adopt socially responsible practices that advance positive changes in Israeli government policy and end the Occupation.
2. Urge the Palestinian Authority to oppose violence as a means of resistance.
3. “Positive investment” – encourage companies to invest in the economic infrastructure of the West Bank and Gaza: “A stable Palestinian state will make for a more secure Israel.” Seek opportunities, with others, to make loans to “support economic justice and development in support of a future Palestinian State.” Palestine, like Israel, has a right to an economy that flourishes.
4. Urge members of the Church to visit church partners and others in Israel and the Palestinian Territories in order to understand the complexities of the conflict. (www.episcopalchurch.org/)
Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice
The Ann Arbor, Michigan interfaith group, in 5/03 adopted a resolution that recognizes the US government’s complicity in violations of human rights, and calls for suspending military aid and arms sales to Israel. It asks the University of Michigan, the city of Ann Arbor and members’ religious organizations to exert their influence, and, along with individuals, to divest from companies that sell arms or other military hardware to Israel. The goal is to bring about Israel’s compliance with UN resolutions and the Geneva Convention. (email@example.com)
Presbyterian Church, USA, 6/06
The 2006 General Assembly votes to continue its policy of economic engagement in the denomination’s work for peace in Israel-Palestine. The new resolution makes the geographic scope and the substantial reach of the project more explicit, urging that the church’s investments “as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, be invested in only peaceful pursuits.” The resolution, overwhelmingly adopted, states that “the proper vehicle for achieving this goal” is the “customary corporate engagement process of the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI).” MRTI aims to persuade corporations to change their practices through correspondence, direct talks, proxy voting, shareholder resolutions, and if need-be through a recommendation for divestment. Rev. Gretchen Graf, Moderator of the GA Peacemaking Committee, affirms that MRTI “as a last resort” could recommend divestment to the next General Assembly in 2008 despite the absence of the words “phased selective divestment,” in this year’s resolution. That phrase in the 2004 GA document aroused the ire of organizations that considered it punitive toward Israel. The phrase has, however, drawn praise worldwide from organizations that believe it may more effectively persuade Israel to end its occupation than have decades of urgent requests.
The 2006 resolution asks MRTI to ”identify affirmative investment opportunities as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank.” The Presbyterians also explicitly ask the entire church “to work through peaceful means” to end the occupation, to end violence against civilians, and for the “creation of a socially, economically, geographically, and politically viable and secure Palestinian state, alongside an equally viable and secure Israeli state, both of which have a right to exist.” Finally, the GA supports “fair criticism” of the wall. “To the extent that the security barrier violates Palestinian land . . . the barrier should be dismantled and relocated.” (http://les-pcusa.org/Item.aspx?IID=90&)
Presbyterian Church of Scotland, 5/06.
The General Assembly, meeting in Edinburgh, calls on European authorities and the World Council of Churches to clearly identify products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank “to enable consumers to make informed choices.” The General Assembly took this step after learning from its Church and Society Council that there were no investments in the church’s portfolio relevant to the church’s concerns about Israel and the Palestinians. (ekklesia.co.uk/content/news_syndication/article_060524cofs.s)
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers): Atlanta Meeting, 7/06, and Olympia Meeting, 8/06
“By using US-supplied weapons to attack Gaza and Lebanon, Israel is violating the terms of the US Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act. The Arms Export Control Act restricts the use of US weapons to legitimate self-defense and internal policing; US weapons cannot be used to attack civilians in offensive operations. The Foreign Assistance Act prohibits US aid of any kind to a country that routinely kills civilians as a result of its military operations. … We urge the President and Congress to stop all foreign assistance and military equipment exports to Israel until it ceases military attacks outside of its internationally recognized borders.” (atlanta.quaker.org) (olyfriends.homestead.com)
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers): Philadelphia Meeting
Spring 2005: “Threshing” Session topic, “Israel’s Occupation: Is It Time for Divestment?”
1. What are the “facts on the ground”? 2. What are our historic precedents for action?
3. What are the criteria for action? 4. How do we maintain integrity in seeking both justice and compassion? Next: “Threshing” sessions with other Philadelphia Meetings, Fall 2006. (matson@drexel)
Roman Catholic Mercy Investment Program, Sisters of Mercy, Maryknoll Sisters, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Sisters of Loretto and Jewish Voice for Peace. 4/05
The Sisters’ Caterpillar shareholder resolution asked Cat to investigate whether its sale of bulldozers to Israel violates the company’s own code of conduct: “It is a matter of public record that since September 2000, the Israeli government has used Caterpillar equipment to destroy more than 3000 homes, hundreds of public buildings and private commercial properties and vast areas of agricultural land,” uprooting “hundreds of thousands of olive trees as well as orchards of dates, prunes, lemons and oranges causing widespread economic hardship and environmental degradation in rural areas of Palestine” The resolution received a 3% vote at the shareholders’ meeting. A JVP member called the event “a remarkable success,” stating, “[O]ur primary goal was to put this issue front and center in the minds of the Caterpillar board.” (sistersofmercy.org) (iccr.org/)
Roman Catholic Sisters of Loretto.
As shareholders in Caterpillar, Inc., the Sisters community filed a resolution in 2004, asking Caterpillar to stop providing arms to Israel. In April, a Sister addressed the annual shareholders meeting, telling the executives, “You understand the implications of improvement in clean emissions, equal employment opportunity, environmental impact of mining and logging. But with sales to the Israeli Army through the Department of Defense, you have stepped up Caterpillar's role in the public arena. Caterpillar bulldozers are tools of war now and Caterpillar is an arms dealer, sharing in responsibility for the horrendous use of those weapons.” The resolution won 4% of the shareholders’ votes, assuring its reconsideration in 2005. (catdestroyshomes.org) (lorettocommunity.org)
The United Church of Canada (Presbyterian, Methodist, United Church of Christ).
The UCC General Council, 8/06, adopts a Pro-Peace Investment Strategy “to invite the membership, congregations, and organizations of The United Church of Canada to invest in companies that contribute to peace and a secure and economically viable Palestinian state alongside a secure and economically viable State of Israel” and to “make financial investments, as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, with . . . companies that are engaged only in peaceful pursuits in the region.” UCC is Canada’s largest Protestant denomination. It rules out investment in companies supporting the occupation and settlements, helping to build the separation barrier, or serving “any government or organization that refuses to recognize the legitimate rights of the State of Israel, including its right to exist as a Jewish state.” The denomination denounces acts of violence perpetrated against persons on all sides of the conflict. It commits to raising one million dollars to support projects of groups working for peace in Palestine and Israel. (www.united-church.ca/news/2006/0818.shtm)
United Church of Christ (UCC), 7/05
Commitment to Israel’s safe and secure existence within internationally recognized borders. Condemns violence on both sides.
1. Urges the US to play the role of honest broker
2. Significant dialogue with Jewish, Christian and Muslim partners
3. Educate congregants about the realities on the ground
4. “Economic leverage” on behalf of oppressed people:
A) Divestment from companies that sell arms or military hardware to Israel.
B) Reallocation of US foreign aid to constrain militarization of the Middle East. (ucc.org)
United Methodist Church: New England Conference
Resolution on “Divesting from Companies that are Supporting, in a Significant Way, the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories” (6/05): The settlements and Israel’s wall on Palestinian land violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, UN resolutions, and the 2003 Roadmap. Therefore a committee will determine which investments support the occupation, writing the company to request a change in its relationship to the occupation. If no change is taken or contemplated within 60 days, the company’s name will be placed on a divestment list and shared with Methodist churches and investment managers.
The Church calls on the US government, the government of Israel, and the Palestinian leadership to reject all acts of aggression and violence, to respect the equality and dignity of all the region’s people, and follow principles of international law and human rights. The Church affirms the right of Christians, Jews, and Muslims to freedom of movement in the Holy Land and the maintenance of Jerusalem as an open city for people of all three faiths. (UMC.org)
United Methodist Church: Virginia
6/05 affirms Israel's right to exist within permanent, recognized, and secure borders, and Palestinians' right to self-determination and the formation of a viable state.
The Conference calls upon the United Methodist Board of Pensions to review its investments and undertake a process of phased, selective divestment from any multinational corporations that are profiting from the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of the Palestinian economy, and confiscation of Palestinian land. (UMC.org)
York and Hull District Methodist Synod, England, 4/05. Recommend to the UK Methodist
Conference that it follow the lead of the World Council of Churches and Presbyterian Church,
undertaking a review of all investments under its control, with a view to divesting from any corporations or activities that support the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “International Law is the basis of the Conference resolution. This fact should be well publicized.”
JEWISH AND PALESTINIAN ORGANIZATIONS
European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP)
“No Other Way,” adopted at the 2005 annual plenary, calls for economic pressure targeted at the Occupation. The rationale for these measures highlights: 1) Their nonviolent nature, and 2) The fact that the need to resort to these steps is a result of the failure of other means. Opposing the Israeli occupation cannot be construed as anti-Semitic. On the contrary, looking to endow Israel with special rights because it is a Jewish state is an attitude which smacks of anti-Semitism because it sees Jews as being different from the rest of humanity.
Under “Divestment Actions,” EJJP calls for pressure by boycott and information campaigns on companies, institutions, organizations, and individuals that profit from involvement in or contribution to the Occupation, such as Caterpillar, Intel, and Soda Club. It includes Israeli companies that produce military equipment used to violate Palestinian human rights, and also universities, research institutions, and individuals that contribute to the perpetuation of the Occupation.
The purchase of Israeli arms and weapons should be banned, and governments are asked to stop selling Israel arms used to continue the Occupation. Settlement products should be boycotted, based on the Gush Shalom list, as well as products with labels that do not differentiate between settlement products and those made in Israel. (ejjp.org)
“Peace Bloc” in Hebrew, Gush is a highly active Israeli peace organization that started an ongoing National Boycott of Settlements’ Products in 1997, providing a list of products produced in settlements’ industrial parks to tens of thousands of Israeli households on request. The list is constantly revised and is used by international groups seeking such information. (gush-shalom.org)
ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions) calls for sanctions, 1/05
1. Selective divestment from companies that profit from the Occupation, e.g., Caterpillar, and from Israeli companies that depend on settlements for materials or labor or that produce military equipment used to violate Palestinian human rights
2. Reminds churches with investment funds that they have an opportunity to use those funds responsibly in support of peaceful solutions to conflict. Economic pressure is one such means of action. Calls for churches to:
A. Exert pressure on companies to discontinue business that supports the occupation.
B. When pressure fails, divest from such companies. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jewish Voice for Peace
The group includes American Jews and Israeli peace activists. It supports the Presbyterian Church’s “selective divestment from companies, including Caterpillar, that profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and from Israeli companies that use settlements as a source for materials and labor or that produce military equipment used to violate Palestinian human rights. General divestment from Israel itself is not now advised; rather: target the Occupation and the Israeli military complex that sustains it.
JVP counters Caterpillar’s claims that the company is not involved with Israeli violence because it does not sell its house-wrecking equipment directly to the IDF. However, the company’s bulldozers are sold to Israel through the US Foreign Military Sales Program, as Cat CEO Jim Owens wrote JVP in 2003.
JVP notes that US military aid since 1949 “represents the largest transfer of funds from one country to another in history.” However, by law, 75% of US military aid to Israel must go to US corporations, so US companies are major financial beneficiaries of the Occupation. (www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org)
Jews Against The Occupation, New York, NY 11/04.
“We are writing as deeply committed Jews to thank the Presbyterian Church for acting as a true friend to our people. Their decisions to condemn Israel's Wall . . . and to begin selective divestment of holdings in multinational corporations doing business in Israel/Palestine represent an important step forward in the struggle for Palestinian freedom and an end to the conflict . . . (W)e believe that the day will come, be it in five years or fifty, when the Presbyterian Church’s action in this matter will be remembered with love and gratitude by Jews around the world. . . ” (www.jatonyc.org)
Jews for a Just Peace, Vancouver, Canada 8/06.
There is no such thing as a benign occupation. Appeals to the Israeli government to end their harsh treatment of Palestinian have simply not worked. “That’s why stronger measures are called for, measures such as selective divestment . . .”
Israel’s occupation is being institutionalized and made permanent. As Jeff Halper says: “Neither security nor terrorism are really the issue; Israel’s policies of annexation are based on a pro-active claim to the entire country . . . Terrorism on all sides is wrong . . . but to demand that resistance cease while an occupation is being made permanent is unconscionable.”
“In Gaza, the siege continues. Israel has kidnapped elected Palestinian officials, shelled and bombed, conducted military operations resulting in civilian deaths, and destroyed civilian infrastructure -- power grids, bridges, government buildings and more. Still understood as occupation under international law, Israel controls Gazan airspace, borders and ports.
“We support the views of the prominent Israeli writer, the late Yeshayahu Leibovitz, who wrote: ‘We must free ourselves from the curse of dominating another people.’” (www.jewsforajustpeace.com)
An Israeli peace group, active with army Refusers, women’s groups, and other peace groups, 2/05, New Profile “opposes the Occupation on three counts: 1. Its destruction of Palestinian life, society, land, and property. 2. Its role in maintaining militarism in Israel. 3. Its erosion of Israel’s socio-economic and moral fabric.”
“We therefore seek non-violent means of ending this catastrophic Occupation. One such means is using economic sanctions to pressure the government to change its policy. To this end New Profile welcomes and supports selective divestment aimed at divesting from companies that contribute to the continuation of the Occupation by supplying arms, other equipment, or staff . . . [E]nding the occupation is not only to the benefit of the Palestinians but also necessary for the welfare of Israel, its youth, and future generations. Over 20,000 Israeli soldiers have died in its wars since 1948. Enough.”(www.newprofile.org)
Not in My Name (NIMN)
NIMN supports Selective Divestment as a Tool to Oppose the Israeli Occupation. This predominantly Jewish US group stated in 1/05) “We continue to add our voices to the growing anti-Occupation movement and make it clear that Israel neither speaks nor acts in the name of all Jews.”
“[T]he Occupation is destroying Israeli society by increasing poverty, violence, and insecurity. Therefore actions that oppose the Occupation are, in fact, pro-Israeli. Furthermore, we believe that such actions are in keeping with our vision of a Judaism that is based on the principle of justice.”
“We believe that the Israelis and Palestinians deserve a chance to live together in peace and we support self-determination for both peoples. We oppose the obstacles that prevent the creation of a just and lasting peace, and believe that the Occupation and the U.S. support for it are primary obstacles. We also oppose such things as the illegal Jewish-only settlements and bypass roads in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, home demolitions, all forms of collective punishments, and extrajudicial assassinations. We also oppose the Wall that imprisons entire Palestinian villages and separates Palestinians from their farmlands, schools, religious and economic centers, and their water. . .
Well-designed divestment campaigns can help focus public discourse on the Occupation. They can also have a positive material impact, as has been shown by such projects as the grape boycott to support the United Farm Workers and the opposition to South African apartheid.”
“Therefore, NIMN urges its members and supporters to investigate and actively support selective divestment and boycott campaigns that target corporations that profit from the Occupation.” (nimn.org)
Palestinian Civil Society (170 organizations) 7/05: “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights”
1. South Africa apartheid is a historical precedent
2. End the occupation and dismantle the wall
3. Recognize the rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel
4. Palestinians’ right of return re: UN resolution 194 (www.badil.org)
Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers, 8/06
This call for a cultural boycott asks “artists and filmmakers of good conscience around the world to cancel all exhibitions and other cultural events that are scheduled to occur in Israel” and to “speak out against the current Israeli war crimes and atrocities” as they once did in boycotting South African art institutions. The group asks the international community “to join us in the boycott of Israeli film festivals, Israeli public venues, and Israeli institutions supported by the government, and to end all cooperation with these cultural and artistic institutions that to date have refused to take a stand against the Occupation, the root cause for this colonial conflict.” A goal of the campaign is to “appeal to the Israeli people to give up their silence, to abandon their apathy, and to face up to their responsibility in the destruction and killing their elected government is wreaking.” People can endorse this call by sending an email with name, position and country to
SECULAR AND NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOS)
Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, 2/06
The British group calls for an economic boycott of the Israeli construction industry. They protest the building of Israeli settlements and the Wall in the Occupied Territories. Architects and others working on Israeli projects in the occupied territories are “complicit in social, political and economic oppression.” The “construction disciplines are being used to promote an apartheid system of environmental control.” A leader of the group, architectural critic Charles Jenckes, told The Independent, ”I understand fully that security is the problem for Israel and they have the right to protect themselves. But this is not the solution. It is an extremist measure which foments extremism, by incarcerating and intimidating Palestinians.” The group may target Israeli-made construction materials and Israeli architects and construction companies. (news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article344510.ece)
Association of University Teachers (AUT)
In 4/05, the AUT Council, the governing body of Britain’s 40,000-strong academic union, voted to boycott Israeli academia, particularly Haifa and Bar Ilan universities. Haifa -- because of the threatened dismissal of Dr. Ilan Pappe for his defense of graduate student Teddy Katz, whose master’s thesis documented the 1948 massacre of Palestinians at Tantura. Bar-Ilan -- because of its links to the College of Judea and Samaria (elevated to university status in 5/05). Bar-Ilan’s support for the College in the Ariel settlement, was considered as de facto support for the Occupation. The AUT boycott was rescinded in 5/05 by a Special Council meeting, reportedly after intervention by the British Foreign Office. The Council decided instead to provide practical support to Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists and academics. ( www.aut.org.uk/)
Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine
CJPP, based in Quebec, launched a campaign in 12/05 of “boycott, divestment, and sanctions, to force Israel to respect international law.” They state: “We must stop believing in the false pronouncements of peace of the Israeli State and in the roadmap of its US sponsor. Because, in practice, under the cover of the hyper-showcased Gaza 'disengagement,' Israel is moving ahead with a much more significant expansion of its settlements in the West Bank, and continues the illegal construction of its apartheid wall, gradually reducing the occupied Palestinian territories into a disconnected patchwork of mini-bantustans.” The campaign will cover 1) the boycott of Israeli products and products of companies that are contributing to the occupation, 2) the retrieval of investments from these companies, and 3) sanctions against the Israeli State, starting with opposition to the Canada-Israel free trade agreement. The targets initially identified by the CJPP for Phase One are Caterpillar and Israeli wines. (cjpp.org/}
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
The Ontario division of Canada’s largest union, representing 200,000 workers, voted in 5/06 to support the international campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions until Israel recognizes “the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination” and “the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.” The group asks the Canadian Labor Congress to “join us in lobbying against the apartheid-like practices of the Israeli state and call for the immediate dismantling of the wall.” CUPE will develop an education campaign about the political and economic support of Canada for these practices. (www.cupe.on.ca/)
Collectif Urgence Palestine (CUP) (Swiss)
CUP protests the “Judization of Jerusalem,” by boycotting Connex, a French company hired to run a light railway system connecting Jewish-only settlements in Jerusalem. In 3/06, CUP protested a contract for Connex to operate public transport services in Geneva, stating: “Switzerland, as depository of the Geneva Conventions, should not deal with companies that violate international law and support Israeli Apartheid in Palestine.” In 2005, CUP petitioned the Swiss parliament to nullfy the purchase of Israeli military equipment worth 150 million Swiss francs. In May 2006, CUP hosted an international conference with ECCP: “For a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel: Enforce International Law!” They called for divestment and boycott. (www.urgencepalestine.ch)
This London-based dance magazine, with a circulation of 17,500, joins the cultural boycott. “We are opposed to the occupation,” says advertising director Naresh Kaul. Dance Europe screens its ads: “If any company in Israel cooperates with us by adding a disclaimer saying it is opposed to the occupation, settlements and everything else, we will cooperate with them.” The magazine prints Israeli ads if the advertiser includes a statement saying the firm disapproves of the occupation. (www.danceeurope.net)
Edinburgh International Film Festival returned a donation to the Israeli Embassy and cancelled several Israeli films (8/06). The Israeli donation was to underwrite the attendance of Israeli director Yoav Shamir at the showing of his documentary “Five Days,” about the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza. The festival decided to show the film and offer to fund Shamir’s expenses itself. Eighteen Israeli films were originally scheduled for screening. Seven were cancelled. Festival artistic director Christophe Postic explained, “(T)he war in Lebanon changed the picture. We couldn’t present only Israeli films for three days and ignore what is happening.” (www.ynetnews.com/articles)
European Coordinating Committee of NGOs on the Question of Palestine (ECCP), 7/05
Members of the civil society of EU-member states petition their governments, the EU Council, and the UN “to take political and economical measures, including sanctions, to prevent Israel from continuing the construction of the wall and to force it to respect the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion” [which ruled that the Wall on Palestinian soil is unlawful]. NGOs and Palestine solidarity groups in Europe urge their governments to cease all military exchanges and agreements with Israel, to provide no aid in construction of the Wall, to honor their commitment to the Fourth Geneva Convention and UN Resolutions, and to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement. (email@example.com)
This international human rights organization working for social, economic, and environmental justice says Palestinians in Israel “live as third class citizens, facing legal, economic, and social discrimination. In the occupied territories, Israel continues to subject the Palestinians there to home demolitions, closures and checkpoints, extrajudicial detentions and assassinations, immobilizing curfews, and countless other daily abuses and forms of oppression. The system of apartheid that Israel has developed closely resembles that which South Africa once had. Apartheid in South Africa was eventually abolished in large part because of an international grassroots movement to stop financial support of the apartheid regime.” They add: “Through divestment (stopping capital investment in companies that do business in Israel) and boycott (not buying Israeli products) we can bring justice to the Israelis and Palestinians as well.” (updated 8/23/05) (www.globalexchange.org)
Human Rights Watch, 12/04
HRW reports that the Israeli military uses the D9 bulldozer as its primary weapon to raze Palestinian homes, destroy agriculture, and shred roads in violation of the laws of war, international human rights laws. The group urges the company to cease D9 sales that go to the Israeli military
Caterpillar’s CEO says the firm lacks “the practical ability or legal right to determine how our products are used after they are sold.” HRW says this stance ignores international standards on corporate social responsibility. Since 2003, the United Nations has been developing standards for corporations. The “UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights” states that companies should not “engage in or benefit from” violations of international human rights or humanitarian law and that companies “shall further seek to ensure that the goods and services they provide will not be used to abuse human rights.” (HRW.org)
The Interfaith Group for Morally Responsible Investment (IMRI-UK)
This consortium sees “no prospect for peace without the intervention of the international community.” They support the decision of the Synod of the Anglican Church of England, 2/06, to commence disinvestment from companies that support the illegal occupation. IMRI asks individual Anglican parishes to shift their investment funds away from Caterpillar. IMRI members include concerned Anglicans, and the Amos Trust, Friends of Al Aqsa, Interpal, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Just Peace UK, the Palestinian Return Centre, and Pax Christi. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A huge inflatable snake floated on the River Po during the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy (2/06). It was launched by the Italian branch of ISM (International Solidarity Movement), citing Israel’s refusal to comply with the 2004 International Court of Justice ruling on the illegality of the Wall. The creature, designed by artist Piero Gilardi, bore the slogan “Free Palestine! Boycott Israel!” (email@example.com)
Labor for Palestine
LFP emerged in the US as a response to Palestinian workers’ exploitative conditions. US labor union pension funds are said to have about 5 billion dollars invested in State of Israel Bonds. Divestment from these bonds is a central platform of Labor for Palestine. (www.laborforpalestine.org)
Lussas Documentary Film Festival, France, 8/06
Lussas cancelled screenings of Israeli documentary films following the outbreak of the massive Israeli attack on Lebanon. Festival directors wrote the Israeli directors that they planned to substitute a program of Lebanese and Palestinian films “that will show our opposition to the war.” (newsbusters.org/node/7136)
National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (UK)
Britain’s largest faculty association voted in 5/06 to urge its 67,000 members to “consider the appropriateness of a boycott” of Israeli faculty who fail to “publicly dissociate themselves” from Israel’s “apartheid policies, including construction of the exclusion wall and discriminatory educational practices.” They ask British college teachers “to consider their own responsibility for ensuring equity and nondiscrimination in contacts with Israeli educational institutions or individuals.” (www.natfhe.org.uk/)
National Lawyers Guild
Resolution To Divest, In Principle And Practice, From Israel ( NLG National Convention, 10/04)
WHEREAS the Israeli government with its illegal occupation and expansionist program in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip is engaged, and has been engaged in grave human rights violations including but not limited to: the use of live ammunition on unarmed civilians (including men, women, and children); massive and disproportionate use of force including the firing of missiles from Apache helicopter gun-ships against defenseless civilian populations; illegal mass arrests and institutionalized torture (including men, women, and children); the willful destruction of agricultural land; the deprivation of water; forced malnutrition with concomitant health consequences including stillborn deaths and irreversible develop-mental damage to children; the mass demolition of homes and confiscation of land; hostage taking and extra-judicial assassinations; denial of medical services to the sick and wounded; the use of human shields (including children); the targeting of schools, and hospitals; the building of illegal fortified "Jewish-only" Israeli colonies/settlements on confiscated land connected by "Jewish-only" bypass roads, and the heavily subsidized transfer of hundreds of thousands of its own civilian population into these colonies/settlements;
WHEREAS the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel's Apartheid Wall violates international humanitarian law which governs Israel's administration of the Palestinian territories it has occupied since 1967 as well as the fundamental human rights of the Palestinians;
WHEREAS by virtue of, but not limited to, the Principles of the Nuremberg Charter and Judgment; The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights; International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights; The Geneva Conventions, in particular, but not limited to the 4th Geneva Convention, the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Protocol 1, Additional to the Geneva Conventions, as well as other international covenants and the general humanitarian principles of international law, these acts constitute war crimes, and in some cases crimes against humanity.
WHEREAS, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, 22 USC sec. 2304, provides that "no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights;"
WHEREAS, the UN General Assembly on October 22, 2003, reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and . . . reiterating its opposition to settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories almost unanimously, with the exception of the US, Israel
BE IT RESOLVED that the NLG seeks, in principal and practice, to support national and international campaigns to divest from Israel . . . and (a) support divestment campaigns to make full public disclosure of any and all investments it or other institutions have in Israel and of any and all profits earned from companies invested in Israel, and (b) either immediately divest from those companies, or cause such companies to disinvest from Israel until all of the following conditions are met: 1) Withdraw armed forces; 2) Permit interested refugees to return to their homes and compensate the rest; 3) End torture; 4) Vacate all Jewish-only settlement/colonies; 5) Compensate all Palestinian victims. (www.nlg.org)
Palestine Solidarity Campaign-UK
PSM asks consumers to Boycott Israeli Goods via the “BIG” Campaign. “BIG” stages colorful anti-import demonstrations in major British cities, focusing on items like avocadoes or dates. It buys shares in companies like Tesco to pressure corporate boards to eliminate Israeli imports. In 6/06, Tesco agreed to phase out Israeli peppers due to consumer pressure. The BIG campaign boycotts Israeli tourism and Israeli cultural, sporting, and academic institutions and individuals who do not condemn the occupation. It seeks to end trade agreements between the EU, UK, and Israel, and it promotes an end to the arms trade, citing “Israel`s appalling human rights record, grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and its ongoing occupation and settler-colonisation of Palestinian lands” and noting “widespread concerns that British-made equipment is being used against Palestinian civilians, in defiance of UK export criteria.” Finally, BIG seeks to increase trade in Palestinian goods. (www.bigcampaign.org)
Palestine Solidarity Campaign-Scotland
In 7/06 SPSC helped stop the use of Prestwick Airport for transhipment of US weapons to Israel for attacks on Lebanon. It forces changes in venues for cricket games with Israeli teams. It boycotts Disney outlets in Scotland, citing Disney’s plans to add to its sizeable investments in Orad, an Israeli firm that provides electronic monitoring equipment for the Wall. (Disney also holds large investments in Tadiran, an Israeli military equipment firm.) “All of this money will be used to help Israel continue its policies of colonization, land theft and slow ethnic cleansing.” (www.scottishpsc.org.uk)
Palestine Solidarity Movement-US
PSM asks US universities, churches and other institutions to end financial support for companies linked with Israeli injustice. Their campaign is modeled after the successful effort to end apartheid in South Africa. PSM hosted university students and community activists in its 5th annual conference at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, in 2/06. (palestinesolidaritymovement.org)
Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
RCF held a Peace Works Conference in 4/06 in Olympia, Washington, hometown of murdered activist Rachel Corrie. International speakers championed divestment and activism. One termed the Oslo peace process the “P-I-E-C-E process” since it “designated Palestinian areas for the first time, allowing Israel to create a system of more than 700 military checkpoints surrounding these areas in order to limit movement of Palestinians. Fewer than 30% of Palestinians can apply for a permit to travel to and from Palestinian areas, and only 10% of Palestinians get permits.” (rachelcorriefoundation.org)
Stop Cat Coalition
Stop Cat sponsors an annual Day of Action focused on Caterpillar headquarters in Peoria, Illinois, to demand that Caterpillar “cease all sales to the Israeli military and government” and abide by its own code of conduct which states “as a company, we strive to contribute toward a global environment in which all people can work safely and live healthy, productive lives.” The Coalition says Caterpillar’s D-9 bulldozer ”is directly implicated in grave abuses of human rights by Israeli Defense forces, including the collective punishment of the Palestinian people through house demolitions, clearing a path for and constructing the Apartheid Wall and murder of civilians”-- actions that “are illegal under international law -- specifically violating the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Rome Statute of the International Court and the Hague Conventions.” The sale of the D-9 to the IDF also violates the US Arms Export Control Act. On the annual International Day of Action Against Caterpillar, protests are held in cities worldwide, and are organized in the US by Stop Cat, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Demonstrations at Caterpillar dealers and headquarters were also held in March 2006. Stop Cat provides informational videos and a PowerPoint presentation on Caterpillar’s involvement. (stopcat.org/catdestroyshomes/org)
United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Middle East Peace
A Call to Action, 7/05: “ [W]e urge international, national and regional social movements, organizations and coalitions to support the unified call of Palestinian civil society for a global campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] to pressure Israel to end the occupation and fully comply with international law and all relevant UN resolutions. We have identified the coming year to mobilize for and inaugurate this BDS campaign.” (www.un.org/depts/dpa/qpalnew/dpr.htm)
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
The US Campaign supports municipal and state divestment initiatives. It provides divestment resources to inform, educate and mobilize the public regarding the US government’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the way funds invested by municipalities, state governments, trade unions and other organizations help sustain the occupation. Groups call on municipal, state and federal governing bodies to issue statements opposing that occupation. The US Campaign recognizes that there is no single way to approach divestment. Given the grassroots nature of this effort, it is up to activists on the ground to decide what practices would work best in their localities. (www.endtheoccupation.org/}
Veterans for Peace
VFP, a 20-year-old US veterans’ organization, adopted Economic Support For Justice And Peace In Palestine at its National Conference, 8/05. The resolution states that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major international flashpoint; people of the region are suffering from militarization; the US is the largest single source of governmental financial aid to Israel; and all forms of intervention have failed to achieve Israeli compliance with international law as embodied in UN resolutions and world court decisions (and supported by peace activists in Israel). Therefore, inspired by the South African struggle and the international solidarity which made it effective, and in support of the call by more than 170 Palestinian political parties, unions, and organizations for such economic actions, “Veterans For Peace calls for boycott, divestment, and other actions against economic activities that support Israel’s continued occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands and the denial of fundamental human rights to Palestinians both in Israel and in the occupied territories until the Government of Israel complies with international law and the universal principles of human rights. VFP urges members and chapters to support such economic actions which seem to them best calculated to bring about a change in Israeli government policy for the benefit of both the Israeli and Palestinian people.” (veteransforpeace.org/)
War on Want
WoW (UK) asks people “to challenge the global structures which sustain poverty across the world.” In Palestine, it says, “Caterpillar’s armoured bulldozers have been responsible for the destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes, schools, wells and olive groves” in a systematic campaign to destroy the Palestinian economy and demoralize residents. Caterpillar bulldozers are currently used in almost every significant operation by Israeli forces, and in fact they are, according to one Israeli military commander, ‘the key weapon.’ WoW reported in 2005 that the Israeli army currently has around 100 D9s in operation. D9s are modified by state-owned Israeli Military Industries and by Ramta, a division of Israel Aircraft Industries. Some bulldozers have customized packages, including machine gun mounts, smoke projectors and grenade launchers. The Israeli military recently ordered 25 D9 armored bulldozers reinforced by Israel Aircraft Industries, while the US Department of Defense acquired 14 armored Caterpillar D9Rs from the Israeli army for use in Iraq. WoW asks people to boycott Caterpillar products—from construction equipment to clothing and footwear—and to buy Zaytoun fair-trade olive oil to help redress the damage caused to Palestinian farmers. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Canadian Section
In 12/05, WILPF-Canada wrote INTEL’s Board Chairman and CEO: “Let INTEL not be wooed by Israel’s $525 million grant incentive to expand INTEL’s existing microprocessing factory in Israel. The site of the proposed expansion is Kiryat Gat, on land expropriated from the Palestinian village of Iraq Al-Manshiya. By further building there, you are denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their land.” (email@example.com)
Corrie Family Lawsuit vs. Caterpillar, Inc. (3/15/05). A civil action seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Caterpillar for violations of international and state law committed against Rachel Corrie, including war crimes; aiding and abetting her extra-judicial killing; complicity in cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment . . . that resulted in her death; negligence; and wrongful death.
The suit, filed in US District Court in Seattle, Washington, states:
“On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, a peace activist and United States citizen, was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home.
“2. This lawsuit alleges that Caterpillar, Inc., has aided and abetted or otherwise been complicit in the Israel Defense Forces (hereinafter “IDF”) in the above-mentioned human rights violations and war crimes by providing the bulldozers used to demolish homes of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in violation of international law when it knew, or should have known, that such bulldozers were being used to commit human rights abuses.
“3. The IDF has destroyed approximately 10,000 Palestinian homes since 1967 leaving approximately 50,000 men, women, and children homeless. Over the last four years, the IDF has destroyed 4,100 homes. Upon information and belief, Caterpillar, Inc. has supplied bulldozers to the IDF that have been used in such demolitions since 1967.” (www.catdestroyshomes.org/downloads/final.corriecomplaint.3.15.pdf)
Ken Loach, British film director who won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2006, announces his support for an Israeli boycott, 8/06: “Palestinians are driven to call for this boycott after forty years of the occupation of their land, destruction of their homes and the kidnapping and murder of their civilians,” Loach said. “They have no immediate hope that this oppression will end. As British citizens we have to acknowledge our own responsibility. We must condemn the British and US governments for supporting and arming Israel.” He added, “I would decline any invitation to the Haifa Film Festival [to which he had been invited] or other such occasions.” (www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/755249.html)
GOVERNMENTAL AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS:
Dublin Tram System, 8/06. Tram drivers refused to allow the Dublin tram system (“Luas”) to be used to train Israeli drivers and engineers for a new light-rail system in East Jerusalem that will serve illegal settlements. In response, the local Irish authority, Veolia, cancelled its training plan with Connex, the French firm that will operate the Israeli system (and that also operates Dublin trams). “When you do business with Israel, you invariably do business with the Occupation.” says a representative of the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Committee, congratulating the tram drivers on their stand. “We must cut ties with Israel in order to force it to end its Occupation.” (www.scottishpsc.org.uk/)
Green Party, US, 11/05, “calls for divestment from and boycott of the State of Israel until such time as the full individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people are realized. The party calls on all civil society institutions and organizations around the world to implement a comprehensive divestment and boycott program. The party calls on all governments to support this program and to implement state-level boycotts.” (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Norwegian Provincial Parliament of the Soer-Trondeleim district, representing about 7% of the population of Norway, including Trondheim, the third largest city, voted on 12/05 to “completely and totally” prohibit the purchase or sale of Israeli products by all provincial government bodies and to launch an awareness campaign calling on the populace to do the same. Significantly, this Parlia-ment was the first Norwegian government body to boycott South African Apartheid. (email@example.com)
United Kingdom government officials barred US flights from Prestwick Airport in Scotland, 8/06. The planes were carrying bombs to Israel for attacks on Lebanon. Diversion to RAF military bases for refueling followed talks between the Scots Secretary and the UK Defense and Foreign Secretaries. After a meeting with the US Consul, Scottish Parliament Member Patrick Harvie of the Green Party reported: “We tried to convey the extreme concern, indeed disgust, among the Scottish public and politicians that a Scottish airport is being used to ferry arms to Israel.“ (dailyrecord.co.uk/news/)
Numerous universities and colleges have divestment drives. Here are two approaches:
The University of Wisconsin Divestment from Israel Campaign,
A coalition of groups and individuals in the University and the state, began in 2005 circulating a petition, asking the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents “to divest from any company doing business with or in the State of Israel until . . . Israel accepts and facilitates the full implementation of the individual and collective human rights of the Palestinian people.” The petition cites Israeli “policies of encapsulation, expropriation, and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian population,” depriving them of “residency rights, the right to work, and the right to equality before the law.”
In a related action, The Association of University of Wisconsin Professionals (TAUWP), a statewide local of the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin, representing faculty and academic staff from 25 UW campuses, in 4/05 adopted a divestment resolution, naming companies that “provide material aid to the Israeli Army in the form of weapons, equipment, and supporting systems used to perpetrate human rights abuses against Palestinian civilians” – including Boeing, Caterpillar, General Dynamics, General Electric, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman, and Raytheon. TAUWP’s resolution notes that the Regents’ policies prohibit such investments. Divestment is a positive step that may lay “the groundwork for a just and enduring peace and is therefore an expression of the hope for a free and secure future for every Israeli and Palestinian currently suffering under the burden of conflict.” Notably, the Faculty Senate of one UW branch (Platteville) was the first such faculty body in the nation to pass a divestment resolution (1/25/05), citing “violations of international law and the human rights of the Palestinian people,” enabled by the named U.S. arms companies. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The University of Michigan Campaign On the Question of Divestment from Israel/Palestine:
In 2/05, the UM-Dearborn campus Student Government passed a resolution calling for immediate divestment from Israel. This was the first time any UM student group had passed such a resolution, and was one of the first nationwide.
The students called for outright divestment, but faculty decided to follow a more formal process. As spelled out by the UM Regents in 1978: If an issue "involves serious moral or ethical questions which are of concern to many members of the University community, then "an advisory committee will be appointed." These conditions were employed with respect to South Africa in 1978 and with tobacco stocks in 2000. In both cases divestment was recommended and implemented.
An ad hoc group of faculty members from the Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses drafted a "Letter of Support for an Inquiry into Divestment" and began circulating a petition calling on the UM administration, not to divest, but simply to establish an advisory committee and investigate if divestment is warranted. The inquiry would lay out the full extent of University investments in both Israel and Palestine and determine which, if any, are implicated in illegal and immoral actions occurring there. The committee would solicit comments from members of the UM community, weigh the arguments, and then make a recommendation.
Petition Calling for the Formation of a University of Michigan Divestment Committee on Israel/Palestine: The petition states in part: “Whereas, the undersigned believe that any University investments in entities contributing to human rights violations by either Israelis or Palestinians is inappropriate, the undersigned call for the formation by the University of Michigan of an advisory committee consisting of members of the University Senate, students, administration and alumni to determine if any University investments are questionable and in need of appropriate corrective actions.” The petition, signed by faculty, staff, students, and alumni, will be presented to UM Regents, UM President Mary Sue Coleman, and other officials. (email@example.com)