Spanish officials endorse BDS


Madrid City Hall. (photo: Carlos Delgado)

Hundreds of elected officials in the Spanish State endorse BDS for Palestinian rights, setting a new BDS precedent in Europe. They include mayors, city councillors, members of congress, presidents of regional parliaments and members of the European Parliament.

By IMEMC News | Dec 4, 2017

“Let’s make the balance not tip to the side of power, but of justice. . . . Our obligation as public officials to promote and guarantee respect for human rights, here, in our towns and cities, and in Palestine.”

This week, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, more than 350 elected officials across the Spanish state published an open-letter in support of Palestinian human rights. They denounced Israel’s institutionalized racism and discrimination as “apartheid” and expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as the only viable instrument for achieving a just and lasting peace for the Palestinian people.

These public officials include mayors, city councillors, members of congress, presidents of regional parliaments and members of the European Parliament.

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Israel denies entry to European officials for “support of boycott”


Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. (photo: Nir Keidar / Haaretz)

Seven members of a 20-member delegation of European Parliament members and mayors were barred entry by Israel, which alleged they had called for a boycott.

By Ilan Lior, Jonathan Lis and Josh Breiner | Haaretz | Nov 14, 2017

“[These are] senior politicians who consistently support the boycott against Israel and promote it. We will not permit entry to those who actively call to harm the State of Israel.”
— Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan

Israel announced on Monday it would deny entry to seven members of a delegation of European officials using the recently approved legislation that bars visits by anti-Israel boycott activists.

The 20-member delegation, which was set to arrive in Israel next week, was to include European Parliament members and French mayors. The Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority said seven of the 20 delegation members will be barred from entering Israel, adding it obtained information that they had called for a boycott of Israel.

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God hears the cry of the oppressed: A theology of BDS


Demonstrators rally in New York City to protest anti-BDS legislation, Jun 9, 2016. (photo: Sipa USA via AP)

Remarks on BDS delivered during a session at the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion.

By Rabbi Brant Rosen | Shalov Rav | Nov 20, 2017

Ed note: On Nov 19, 2017, the American Academy of Religion cancelled a panel discussion on the ethical and theological motivations of BDS after several anti-BDS speakers withdrew from participation at the last moment. The Academy subsequently allowed several papers to be presented “informally,” but without discussion. One of those papers is presented here. Read details of the cancellation here →

Beyond the fears of BDS articulated by so many in the Jewish communal establishment, I think there’s an even deeper fear for many of us in the Jewish community: the prospect of facing the honest truth of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. . . .

[With BDS], however, a nonviolent call for popular resistance has been placed before us. Thus, for those of us that believe God hears the cry of the oppressed and demands that we do the same, the BDS call represents a direct challenge to our faith. Will we be like God, and hearken to their cries, or will we be like Pharaoh and ignore them?

In my remarks to you today, I’d like to address one of the questions originally presented to the panelists of our session: “What, from your perspective, stands out as a particularly important element of religious ethics and theology that motivates those inspired to take up the cause of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions?”

For me, this question is profoundly connected to one of the most important theological teachings of Jewish tradition: namely that God hears and hearkens to the cry of the oppressed. This teaching is needless to say, deeply imbedded in the Torah; in Genesis 18:20-21, God says to Abraham:

The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave! I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry that has reached Me. . . .” Later, at the outset of the Exodus story, God says to Moses, “Now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me; moreover I have seen how the Egyptians oppress them.” (Exodus 3:9)

It should be noted that Godly attributes in Jewish tradition are not mere academic concepts — they are nothing short of divine imperatives. God’s ways must be our ways as well.

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University of Michigan students vote to divest from Israel


A student listens to a speaker during a University of Michigan Student Government meeting to vote on a resolution to divest in businesses connected to Israel, Nov 14, 2017. (photo: Hunter Dyke / The Ann Arbor News)

The resolution passed after an 8-hour meeting, following a series of failed attempts dating back to 2002.

By Martin Slagter | MLive | Nov 15, 2017

“By passing [the resolution] what we are saying to Palestinian students is we acknowledge for the first time that this is an issue that deeply affects their everyday campus experiences, and that the broader campus owes it to them to have a real institutional conversation about it. Nowhere in that validation and humanization of one group of students does this resolution isolate or marginalize another group.”
— student government member Hafsa Tout

The University of Michigan’s Central Student Government is calling on university leaders to investigate divestment from companies that do business with Israel.

UM’s student government passed the motion with 23 members voting in favor and 17 against the motion stating that three companies “violate Palestinian human rights,” while five members abstained.

The meeting stretched nearly eight hours — the longest in student government history — before a vote was conducted under secret ballot, which was done after much debate to protect pro-Palestinian and divestment members from being subject to damaging online blacklists.

The resolution was passed to investigate divesting in Israel after 10 previous attempts since 2002. The vote tally was dramatically different than last year’s resolution, which was voted down 34–13.

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Remembering Paul Findley and Yasser Arafat


Former Rep. Paul Findley (R-IL) speaking on “How to tame lobbies like AIPAC,” Apr 10, 2015. (photo: National Press Club)

A tribute to Paul Findley on the 13th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.

By James Wall / / Nov 14, 2017

Findley was that rare member of the U.S. Congress who ignored memos from foreign governments. He understood the danger of allowing the state of Israel to control American foreign policy in the Middle East.

On the day Yasser Arafat died, Nov 9, 2004, former Illinois Republican Congressman Paul Findley wrote an article to describe the relationship he had with the Palestinian leader.

Paul Findley knew then, and he knows now, that if enough members of Congress had joined with him in favor of talking with Yasser Arafat, Israel’s control over American policy might well have shifted in a different direction.

His article was published in the Daily Star, a Beirut, Lebanon, publication, on the occasion of Arafat’s death, 75, in a Paris hospital. Arafat had been under essential house arrest in his Ramallah headquarters. When he became ill, Israel moved him to Paris.

The failure of Finley’s news-worthy piece to find significant American exposure was further evidence of just how much Israel and its American allies fear an influential man like Paul Findley.

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Cambridge University criticized for censoring BDS event


Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University. (photo: David Iliff)

Recently several UK universities have censored or restricted pro-Palestinian events.

By Shafik Mandhai / Al Jazerra / Nov 11, 2017

“Removing a respected Palestinian academic as chair of a panel event based on an unsubstantiated assumption about her lack of ‘neutrality,’ and in doing so bowing to external pressure from a pro-Israel lobby group, cannot be construed as anything other than a naked attack on free speech and, more particularly academic freedom.”
— Cambridge University student Ed McNally

The University of Cambridge is facing accusations of censorship after it allegedly threatened to ban a meeting about the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement unless the Palestinian academic chairing it was removed and replaced with its own choice.

Ruba Salih from the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) was set to oversee Wednesday’s event featuring Palestinian BDS activist, Omar Barghouti, but organizers say they were forced to cancel her participation hours before it was due to start after the university intervened citing concerns over her neutrality.

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Protect free speech


The US Constitution is the oldest document currently governing a nation. (photo: iStock Photos)

A message from faith organizations in the United States.

Friends of Sabeel North America

As faith leaders, we have long used the nonviolent instruments of boycott and divestment in our work for justice and peace. These economic measures have proven to be powerful tools for social change. . . . Anti-BDS legislation is an extremely grave attack on free speech that threatens the use of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions for other peace and human justice causes.

We are members of faith communities in the United States whose congregations or denominations have adopted resolutions to boycott products made in Israeli settlements—built on occupied Palestinian lands in violation of international law and longstanding official U.S. policy—or have implemented a screen to divest from companies that profit from the 50-year-old Israeli military occupation of Palestine. These resolutions affirm our commitment to a just peace for all Palestinians and Israelis.

We are alarmed by legislation recently passed in a number of states penalizing  participation in the nonviolent, grassroots Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights and by similar legislation that is proposed in the U.S. Congress. In August, the Kansas State Department of Education used the state’s anti-BDS legislation to bar a member of the Mennonite church, a math teacher and curriculum coach in Wichita, Kansas, from participating in a program to train other math teachers.

This is a dangerous precedent that threatens to extend repression of Palestinians living under Israeli military rule by muzzling the right of Americans to free speech.

Accordingly, the ACLU has filed suit against the Kansas Commissioner of Education in defense of this school teacher and her right to boycott.

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