Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Hooray! A BIG BDS Win!

G4S, the security company that has long been a target of Boycott, Divest and Sanctions activism, has sold most of its business with Israel, where it had been extensively involved in Israel's notorious prison system, and provided services to Israeli checkpoints and illegal settlements on Palestinian land. 

Pressure from BDS campaigns worldwide, including educating the public about G4S activities, and persuading individuals and religious and civil institutions to withdraw their investments in the company, has caused enormous damage to G4S's reputation and cost it millions of dollars in lost contracts.

Step by step, sometimes slowly, sometimes with sudden victories like this one, BDS is working around the world, wherever G4S and similar corporations repress the most vulnerable.

For even though G4S has found it unprofitable to continue to do most of its business in Israel, the company still deals in oppression worldwide.

In the U.S. alone, G4S played a role in the repression of the Standing Rock Sioux water protectors.

G4S still aids ICE and Homeland Security with immigrant deportations. 

G4S still runs youth detention facilities and provides prison technology as part of the U.S. prison industrial complex.  

"Two things have never been clearer," says the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. "(1) BDS works. and (2) We have a lot more work to do."

Congratulations to activists and institutions around the world that have been a part of the Stop G4S campaign, illustrating the tremendous ability of grassroots organizing to impact multinational corporations and send the strong message that profiting from oppression is not so profitable after all. Now -- on to the next big win!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Resisting the Rising Tide of Oppression

“The election of Donald Trump was an earthquake that changed the face of the planet, writes Israeli political columnist, Uri Avnery. In the U.S. personal threats to Muslims, Jews, and people of color, already on the rise before the end of the presidential campaign, have spiked in the days after the election. A Palestinian-American Quaker writes on Facebook, “Folks in Palestine messaging me to stay safe. Let that sink in.”

On the University of Michigan campus, racist posters and fliers demeaning African Americans, Jews, Muslims, and women have been stapled to kiosks and slipped into dormitories in the dead of night. Last week a white man approached a young Muslim woman and told her he would set her on fire with his cigarette lighter if she didn’t remove her hijab. Twitter accounts of activists have been filled with vile messages from the “alt-right,” emboldened by the blatant racism and xenophobia of the Trump campaign.

But Donald Trump’s “unique mixture of megalomania, showmanship and mass appeal,” as Avnery puts it, is not unfamiliar to Israelis. After last year’s elections, Avnery writes, “Israel was overrun by a band of far-right politicians, like a pack of hungry wolves. Men and women without charm, without dignity, possessed by a ravenous hunger for power.”

These politicians are challenging the Tel Aviv "old elites," just as Trump has set the U.S. public against Washington. The worst of them are inciting interpersonal hatred and resentment: “Jewish citizens against Arab citizens, Israelis of Eastern descent against Ashkenazis of European descent, the uncultured against the cultured, and the poor against all others, tearing apart the delicate ties of Israeli society.” 

Yet such rabble rousing and intimidation pales in comparison with the larger, more impersonal forces that isolate, exclude, and diminish whole populations based on their social or religious identities.

In the U.S., we hear loose talk about the new administration compiling a vast and detailed registry of immigrants from Muslim countries, incarcerating or deporting up to three million undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries, and turning mass incarceration into a lucrative business.  

In Israel/Palestine, the far-right is threatening to retroactively legalize settlements on Palestinian lands, and to continue to escalate the violent repression of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. 

Such large scale oppression is facilitated by technology – impersonal in itself, but political when put to human use.

Hewlett Packard, the global technological giant, is using its expertise not only to supply ink to millions of ordinary folks’ printers, but also to identify and suppress dissidents, censor information, and supervise and control restive populations around the world.

In the U.S., HP technology is being used by the Department of Homeland Security to track, raid, detain, and depart millions of immigrant families on a scale unprecedented in US history. HP tracks data essential for the continued incarceration of millions of black, Latino, Native American, and impoverished people, as well as for widespread legal discrimination against former prisoners.

In Israel/Palestine, HP technology is being used to develop an automated biometric control system that allows Israel to obtain the full profile of virtually every Palestinian over the age of 16, including fingerprints, retinal scans, and facial recognition. Biometric ID cards facilitated by HP technology lay the technical foundation for Israel’s system of tiered citizenship, which assigns rights and privileges according to “nationality” – Jewish, Arab, or Bedouin. 

These ID’s form the basis of rampant discrimination in housing, employment, marriage, healthcare, education and policing.
Such a scale of technological control has brought forth a tactical, coordinated response from grassroots activists, religious and civil institutions, universities, and individuals around the world. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement began in 2005 in response to Palestinian oppression. But now that activists recognize that global corporations and state institutions are repressing the vulnerable in similar ways around the world, the BDS movement has expanded.

This year, on November 25, the U.S.’s biggest shopping day of the year, and in the week that follows, BDS activists plan nonviolent actions in Palestine, Egypt, Malaysia, several Latin American countries, and all across Europe. In the U.S. the campaign has confirmation from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Chico, Santa Cruz, DC, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, and are waiting to hear from Rochester, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Ithaca. Everywhere, it seems, activists are calling for economic boycott and divestment from HP and its insidious methods of and control.

In these perilous times, a strong, coordinated, nonviolent response to repression is essential. As Quakers, we hope readers will join in by personally boycotting HP, persuading schools and religious institutions to divest from HP, and educating government officials about the ways that institutional racism and bigotry can be so easily facilitated by the benign technology we rely on every day. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Members and Attenders of Quaker Meetings can sign on to this letter by emailing Helen Fox hfox@umich.edu. Please mention the Meeting you attend. 

As Quakers, we are disappointed in your opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and your unwavering support for the right wing government of the State of Israel, despite its unconscionable repression of the Palestinian people.

We understand that you think BDS stands in the way of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

In your letter of May 9 to the Israel Action Network and the Jewish Federations of North America you explain that the movement aims to “punish” Israel by “dictating” how the two sides should resolve the core issues of the conflict. 

We respectfully disagree with this analysis. As you surely know, the balance of power has always been in Israel’s favor. 

Israel, a nuclear armed country with a modern military supported by $128 billion dollars in US aid since its founding, is pitted against smaller and smaller enclaves of Palestinians, now crowded into barely 15% of historical Palestine, harassed and dehumanized at checkpoints, deprived of work, food, water, building materials, travel, health care – everything that human beings should enjoy.

The fact that Palestinian civil society has called for a powerful, nonviolent, international response to this untenable situation should be understandable.

As you may know, Quakers have been serving since the 1880s in Palestine, where we have had the opportunity to learn from and appreciate the Palestinian people, their culture, their work ethic, and their resilience in the face of suffering.

We respectfully suggest that as someone who hopes to act as a fair negotiator, you should avail yourself of every opportunity to do the same.

You often reminisce that when you and Bill visited Israel for the first time three decades ago, you walked the ancient streets of Jerusalem’s Old City and fell in love with the country and its people.

We believe you will be a better negotiator if you allow yourself to fall in love with the Palestinian people as well.

It is not hard to do.

Spend time with families, visit people’s homes, enjoy their magnificent hospitality, listen to their stories about their daily lives, learn a bit of Arabic, appreciate the humor, the children’s games and stories, the music, the beautiful embroidery, the olive harvest, the importance Palestinians place on education.

Learn, too, about the terror so many have experienced, the physical and emotional trauma of scores of children, the displacement from their ancestral homes and villages, the erasure of their suffering from the eyes of Israelis on the other side of the “separation wall."

We know this is not how diplomacy usually works. But we believe the world is ready for a new way of addressing human disagreements that result in violence and war. If you spend significant time experiencing the lives and perspectives not just of the Israelis, but of the Palestinians as well, you will be able to move negotiations forward in ways that both sides will ultimately see as fair.

As Quakers, we yearn for an end to this terrible conflict that has spawned such hard feelings between good people. 

We ask you to act with integrity in the critical work that you do.

Dr. Helen Fox (Michigan)
Edward Morin (Michigan)
Ruth Zweifler (Michigan)
Anne Remley (Michigan)
Marilyn Churchill, MA (Michigan)
Karen Deslierres (Michigan)
Sara Koopman (Canada)
James Koopman (Michigan)
Ruth Carey (Michigan)

Steve Chase (Pennsylvania)
Maia Carter Hallward (Georgia)
Jan Wright (Michigan)
Elizabeth Block (Canada)
Joan Sampieri (Michigan)
Al Connor (Michigan)
James Crowfoot (Michigan)
Stephen Zunes (California)
Joyce Rawitscher (Connecticut)
A.M. Fink (Iowa)
Deborah Fink (Iowa)
Dr. Linda Wotring (Michigan)
Alex McDonald (Texas)
Jonathan Avery Wright (New Mexico)
Donald MacGregor (Michigan)
Nancy E. Taylor (Michigan)
Rebecca Hatton, Ph.D. (Michigan)
Letitia W. Ufford, Ph.D. (New Hampshire)
Mary Day Kent (Pennsylvania)
David Zarembka (Kenya)
John Steinmeyer (Florida)

Kristine Stroad Moore (Washington)
Ruth Havighurst Neff (Indiana)
Samuel Holton Neff (Indiana)
Kristina Kenegos (Washington)
Cliff Bennett (Vermont)
Dorlan Bales (Kansas)
Rose Law Miller (Pennsylvania)
Andrew Zweifler, MD (Michigan)
Marlena Santoyo (Pennsylvania)
Jim Best, MA, CCC-SLP

Roger Conant (Massachusetts)
William Riccobono (Michigan)
Arlene Kelly (Pennsylvania)
Max L. Carter (North Carolina)
Jane D. Carter (North Carolina)
Kristin Loken (West Virginia)
William Zakee McGill (West Virginia)
Shawn Donovan (New Hampshire)
Elizabeth Bullard Morse (New Hampshire)
Catherine Miles Grant (Vermont)
Phebe McCosker (New Hampshire)
Dr. William B. Telfair (West Virginia)
Carol Perera Weingeist (New Hampshire)
Anne Ogren (Michigan)
Sandra Stephens (New Hampshire)
Mary Linares (New Hampshire)
Bob Schultz (New Hampshire)
Scott Rhodewalt (Massachusetts)
Bess Klassen-Landis (New Hampshire)
Susan Rhodewalt (Massachusetts)
Peggy Daub (Michigan)
Todd Kummer (Wisconsin)
Cassandra Dixon (Wisconsin)
Joan Raducha (Wisconsin)
Louise Lund (Wisconsin)
Laura Ward Good (Wisconsin)
Meg Skinner (Wisconsin)
Hilda Kuter (Wisconsin)
Annemarie Carr (Delaware)
Cendra Lynn (Michigan)
Lynn Drickamer (Michigan)
Anne Carpenter (Michigan)
Thomas W. Blackwell (Michigan)
Arthur C. Wolfe (Michigan)
John A. Rasumussen (Michigan)
Robert Boyle (Michigan)
Sherry Hutchison (Iowa)
John G. Deikis, Ph.D. (Michigan)
Johanna MacNee (Idaho)
Joann F. Elder (Wisconsin)
Joseph W. Elder (Wisconsin)
Herb Beskar (Virginia)
Sallyann Garner (Florida)
Sarah Hernandez (Florida)
Elizabeth Stokes (New Jersey)
Kathleen Ranlett Mock, M.A. (California)
Steve Livingston (North Carolina)
Elizabeth Wood (Pennsylvania)
Ingrid Hogle (California)
Kenneth Southwood (Texas)
Janet L. Owen (Illinois)
Helena Cobban (North Carolina)
John Bach (Massachusetts)
Ruth Podolin (New Jersey)
Jerry Taylor (Pennsylvania)
Linda Lotz (New Jersey)
Bruce E. "Pacho" Lane (New York)
Skip Schiel (Massachusetts)
David Hadley Finke (Missouri)
Wilmer Rutt (Illinois)
Jane E. Houser (Texas)
Evan Welkin (Washington)
Meredith George (Illinois)
Michael C. Batinski (Illinois)
Helene Pollock (Pennsylvania)
Nancy Cirillo (Massachusetts)
Randolph Holladay (Utah)
Brayton Gray (Illinois)
Nancy Mackin (Washington)
Lorraine B. Claggett (Maryland)
Beverly England Williams (Massachusetts)
Maurine Pyle (Illinois)
Thomas Carlisle (New Mexico)

Robert Brooks (Florida)
Donna Schumann (Washington)
Margaret J. Nelson (Illinois)
Dorothy Gaydosh (Massachusetts)
Sarah McElroy, M.A.(Washington)
John Satzberg (Maryland)
Lorie Wood (Oregon)
David B. Fankhauser (Ohio)
Lois Jordan (Indiana)
Lorna Low (United Kingdom)
Marcy Bethelle Harman (Illinois)
Nahida H. Gordon (Ohio)
Bruce Thron-Weber (Colorado)
Spencer Putnam (Vermont)
Michael Conover (Illinois)
Neil Snarr (Ohio)
Kristin Brown (Illinois)
Gordon Davies (Virginia)
Elizabeth Sprague (Illinois)
John Gordon (Ohio)
Thomas S. Costello, Ph.D. (New York)
Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta (Canada)
Julie Anne Medjanis (Massachusetts)
George Matry Masselam (Massachusetts)
Jo Scott (United Kingdom)
Mark Chalk (United Kingdom)
Margaret Katranides (Missouri)
Zandra Moberg Price (Pennsylvania)
Cas Overton (Virginia)
Rhonda Ligon (Virginia)
Peter J. Eccles (United Kingdom)
Myra Ford (United Kingdom)

Dave Cundiff (Washington)
Wayland M. Hubbart (Washington)
Benjamin Hebner, Jr. (Virginia)
Julia B. Hebner (Virginia)
Katy Rugg, M.A. (Virginia)
Blair Seitz (Pennsylvania)
Sandra Green (Pennsylvania)
Peter Dale (Michigan)
Carolyn Stanley (Florida)
Mariette Norbom (Virginia)
Quinn Dilkes (Iowa)
Joyce Balderston (Ohio)
Phil Balderston (Ohio)
Jim McQuaide (New Mexico)
Eric J. Schiller (Canada)
Mary Fran Hughes-McIntyre (Virginia)
Sandy Moller (Michigan)
Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Friends Meeting at Cambridge, Massachusetts

Free Solomon Polazzo (Georgia)
Donald Saunders (United Kingdom)
Dr. Margaret Barker (United Kingdom)
Wayne Lee (Florida)
Christine Ashley (Iowa)
Geraldine Farrow (United Kingdom)
Katharine B. Johnson (Georgia)
Don Bender (Georgia)
Judy Bender (Georgia)
Clive Gordon (Georgia)
Mary Ann Mays (New York)
Richard Corl (Texas)
Linda Taffs (Canada)

Elizabeth Claggett-Borne (Massachusetts)
Dave Swindells (United Kingdom)
Elizabeth Lees (United Kingdom)
Martha Yager (New Hampshire)
Bill Mims (Virginia)
Sherry Monroe (Illinois)
Jim Fine (Pennsylvania)
Carol Barclay (New York)
Deborah Fine (Pennsylvania)
Maud Easter (New York)
Anne Liske (New York)
Gottfried Brieger (Michigan)
Gatewood West (Massachusetts)
George Capaccio (Massachusetts)
Shirley P. Wolfe (Michigan)
Marilyn Siegel (Michigan)
Karen L. Connor (Michigan)
Pat Micks (Michigan)
Carol Bechtel (Minnesota)
David Easter (New York)
Deena Kinsky (Massachusetts)
Dinah Starr (Massachusetts)
Lynne Cadman (California)
Robert Cadman (California)
Shaun McFee (Ohio)
Joe Mills (Michigan)
Linda Mills (Michigan)
Samuel Madeira (Pennsylvania)
Susan Madeira (Pennsylvania)
Elva L. Carter (California)
Gabi Clayton (Washington)

Kirsten Ebsen (Canada)
David Newlin (Michigan)
Carol Meyer-Niedzwiecki (Michigan)
Flo Friender (Michigan)
Karen Chadwick (Michigan)
Jeni Payton (Michigan)
Catherine A. Cammann (Michigan)
Jeff Cooper (Michigan)
Bert Skellie (Georgia)
Barbara K. Spring Ph.D. (New York)
Ian Harrington (Massachusetts)
Ruth Pauly (Wisconsin)
Alan Garnell (United Kingdom)
Robert Schellenberg (Michigan)
Jane Beck (Pennsylvania)
Daryl Hoopes, Jr. (Pennsylvania)
Stephanie Judson (Pennsylvania)
Philip Bogdonoff (Maryland)
Carolyn Gregory Ph.D. (Pennsylvania)
Lawrence Block (Montana)
Corrie Dorrington (Montana)
Lucretia Humphrey (Montana)
Sandra Schultz (Montana)
Jasmine Krotkov (Montana)
Galina Milohov (Montana)
Dorothy Starshine (Montana)
Mari McLean Ph.D. (Ohio)

Jessica Rettig (Ohio)
Linda Stagg Long (Ohio)
Peter Yff (Lebanon)
Alan Penn (United Kingdom)
Amy Beaumont (Michigan)
Richard P. Tucker (Michigan)
Rebecca Morehouse (Michigan)
Robin Lloyd (Vermont)
Jinchun Ma (Pennsylvania)
Janet Lamborn (Pennsylvania)

Photo by Skip Schiel 

Bob Stauffer (Hawaii)
Margaret Nielsen (Michigan)
Lucia Anne Kalinosky (Ohio)
Princewell Onwere (Michigan)
Tracy Davis (Colorado)
Mary Kay Kernan (Colorado)
Tom Kowal (Colorado)
Susan Wiley (New Mexico)
Phyllis Hoge (New Mexico)
Wyn Lewis (New Mexico)
Sara Keeney (New Mexico)
Ellen Ackerman (New Mexico)
Penelope Thron-Weber (Colorado)

Anna Darrah (New Mexico)
Mara Kelson (Colorado)
Nancy Dolphin (Arizona)
Barbara Stephens (Colorado)
Leslie Stephens (Colorado)
Ann Bunting (Colorado)
Rebecca Cecil (New Mexico)
Nancy Uhl (Colorado)
Susan Rose (Colorado)
Carlos Valen III (Arizona)
Siva Raver (New Mexico)

Janie Cravens (New Mexico)
Ann Anthony (New Mexico)
John A. Kretzmann (New Mexico)
Elaine Emily (California)
Katherine Young Meister (New Mexico)
Eugenia Durland (Colorado)
Henry R. Seltzers (New Mexico)
Robbyn Seltzers (New Mexico)
Matthew Serna (New Mexico)
Rachel S. Serna (New Mexico)
Jerel R. Peterson (Colorado)
Laura Peterson (Colorado)
Elizabeth Motz-Story (Colorado)
Sarah Tie (Colorado)
Miranda Ireland (Colorado)
Michael Baird (Colorado)
Jennifer L. Wellington (New Mexico)
James R. Summers (California)
Travis Erling (Ohio)
Roxanne Seagraves (New Mexico)
Eric N. Smith (Colorado)
Laurie Roberts (Colorado)
Judy Danielson (Colorado)
Eric Wright (Colorado)
Kay A. Bauman (Arizona)
Amanda Szabo (North Carolina)

Norma Seneca Cady (Iowa)
German Quiroga (Arizona)
Tom Vaughn (New Mexico)
Carrol Peabon (New Mexico)
Laurinda Anderson (New Mexico)
Rob Piersen (New Mexico)
Roni Sionakides (Michigan)
Ruah Swennerfelt (Vermont)
Joann Neuroth (Michigan)
Judith Morrigan (Michigan)
Bethany J. Styer (Michigan)
Susan Waltz (Michigan)
Paul C. Pratt (Michigan)
Victoria Hoelzer-Maddox (Michigan)
Patricia Graner (Michigan)
Mark Donovan (Michigan)
Marisa Tamari (Maryland)
Richard Morse (Pennsylvania)
Kenneth Woerthwein (Pennsylvania)
Kay Pickering (Pennsylvania)
Melissa Manning (Pennsylvania)
R. Miller (Pennsylvania)
William Pickering (Pennsylvania)
Nancy Alleman (Pennsylvania)
Irene Appleyard (Pennsylvania)
Isaac Miller (Pennsylvania)
Ted Huryn (Pennsylvania)
Carter Nash (Pennsylvania)
Ruth Hoover Seitz (Pennsylvania)
Robert Boyer (Pennsylvania)
Patricia E. Moore (Pennsylvania)
Vernie Davis (North Carolina)
Susan Adley-Warrick (North Carolina)
Linda Beaty (Ohio)
Scilla Wahrhoftig (Pennsylvania)
Shelley Kotz (Ohio)
Kathleen Helbling (Ohio)
Erika Smith (Michigan)
Samantha Smith (Michigan)
John Howell (Ohio)
Bob Roehm (Ohio)
Helen Howard Hebben (Michigan)
Winifred Covintree (Michigan)
Bill Warters (Michigan)
Margaret T. Walden (Ohio)
Leslie E. Walden (Ohio)
Joel Ottenbreit (Michigan)
Robert Orr (Michigan)
John R. Beaty (Ohio)
Michelle Ajamian (Ohio)
Brandon Jaeger (Ohio)
Elaine Ruscetta (Georgia)
Nadine Thompson (Michigan)
Linda J. Moody (Michigan)
David Rusch (Michigan)
Pam Hoffer (Michigan)
Phil Hoffer (Michigan)
Derney Hamilton (Michigan)
Polly Gibbons (Michigan)
Tom Munk (North Carolina)
Donald E. Hartley (Ohio)
Jean Turkish (Michigan)
Phillip Dilley (Indiana)
Palline Plum (Michigan)
Paul Krice (Indiana)
Mary Garman (Indiana)
Carol Anne Ferlanto (New Jersey)
Larry Habschmidt (Indiana)
David Dilley (Indiana)
Warnoek Davies (Indiana)

Gwendolyn Halsted (Indiana)
Michael Klein (Ohio)
Pauline Klein (Ohio)
Johanna Jackson (Pennsylvania)
Kersey Bradley (Pennsylvania)
Cathy Clifford (Michigan)
Dr. J. L. Underfer (Michigan)
Jamie Young (Ohio)
Robert Cooper (Oregon)

Members and Attenders of Quaker Meetings can sign on to this letter by emailing Helen Fox hfox@umich.edu. Please mention the Meeting you attend.