Letter of solidarity to Melbourne University Student Union

Letter of solidarity to Melbourne University Student Union

This is BDS Australia’s response to the Melbourne University Student Union Motion passed recently in support of BDS as a non-violent means to pressure Israel to end its violations of Palestinian human rights. (See below for the motion).

We are writing to congratulate you on your recent vote of support for the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel, in favour of Palestinian rights.

The political project to maintain Jewish majority and rule throughout historic Palestine, entails ongoing crimes against humanity and cannot be separated from this.

The call for BDS has grown internationally, and is a crucial, non-violent way to apply pressure to the Israeli government to act in accordance with international law and cease its grave violations of Palestinian human rights. The spread of this movement among universities is proved not only by your own initiative but also the recent publication of an editorial in The Crimson, the student newspaper at Harvard University, indicating support for BDS.

A series of expert reports have established a wide consensus of credentialed opinion, backed by rigorously assembled evidence, that Israel is operating a system of apartheid in its treatment of Palestinians. These reports have come from international monitoring groups, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch; from Israeli NGOs Yesh Din and B’Tselem, and from a group of Palestinian human rights organisations (Al-Haq, Badil, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, a-Damir, the Al-Mizan Centre for Human Rights, the Civil Coalition for Palestinian Rights in East Jerusalem, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights and the Beatat Coalition for Housing and Land Rights) and most recently from the Harvard Law School and the UN Human Rights Council.

The racist nature of the Israeli state was evident from its inception, according to the AI report: “Since its creation, the Israeli state has enforced massive and cruel land seizures to dispossess and exclude Palestinians from their land and homes”, thus rendering them “a group with perpetual lesser rights”.

In case any doubt remained, Israel in 2018 adopted the Nation State Law – later upheld by the country’s supreme court – which specifies that the country is a state only of its Jewish inhabitants.

We note that critics of your historic decision have invoked the so-called IHRA definition of “anti-Semitism”, one of whose accompanying examples claims that calling the State of Israel “a racist endeavour” should itself be seen as tantamount to racism. This is no more than a cynical attempt at truth-suppression by vested interests, directly analogous to climate change denialism in the face of the overwhelming scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming.

According to a recent opinion poll commissioned by the Australia-Palestine Advocacy Network, most Australians support both the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and the ongoing investigation by the International Criminal Court. The former is made impossible by Israel’s blatant ongoing theft of Palestinian land; the latter should rule that the entire program to build Jewish-only settlements, or colonies, in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, is a war crime. The Fourth Geneva Convention baldly states: “An occupying power must not move any part of its population into the territory it occupies”.

The IHRA definition has been adopted by political parties and institutions in shadowy meetings through bullying by the Israel lobby, including here in Australia. It is a plot to thwart public opinion as a factor to be considered in the formulation of government policy.

A minimum expectation for such a policy, to reflect both the established facts about Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and Australian public opinion, would be to adopt the three key demands of the BDS movement: an end to the occupation of 1967; equal rights for all citizens of Israel to replace the panoply of apartheid laws, and support for the right of return by Palestinians driven out of their homes in the racist campaign of ethnic cleansing at Israel’s establishment in 1948.

In this context, we thank and congratulate you for your initiative, and look forward to working with you to promote peace and justice for all the peoples of Palestine.

Motion: UMSU stands with Palestine – BDS and Solidarity Policy

The motion:

In the late 1800s, Political Zionism was born to establish a Jewish home in Historic Palestine, disregarding the Indigenous Palestinians living there. This colonial project has led to the establishment of the state of Israel, the blockade of Gaza and the occupa#on of the West Bank through massacres, forced expulsion and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Israel has been deemed as a se8ler colonial apartheid state. It continuously denies the native Palestinians of their right to self-determination, freedom, dignity and equality. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges ac#on to pressure Israel to comply with interna#onal law.

With the recent bombing of Gaza, Israel has carried out a police raid at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Israeli forces have detained 500+ and injured 170+ Palestinians in Jerusalem since the beginning of Ramadan. These Palestinians were simply congrega#ng and praying at the mosque, which is one of the few remaining public spaces for Pales#nians in Jerusalem.

Students in Palestine and around the world have been key participants in the fight against the illegal occupation of Palestine, protesting, organizing, and creating a discussion on respective campuses. Many student unions and associations across Europe, North America, and Australia have formally endorsed BDS or some version of solidarity, it’s long overdue for a clear and firm stance by UMSU on these crimes.
Policy, UMSU stances and actions:

General Stance:
UMSU stands against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and condemns the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians

UMSU supports the self-determination of the Palestine people and their right to engage in self-defence against their occupiers

UMSU deems Zionism as a racist, colonial ideology UMSU rejects Israel’s continued settlement, expansion, and annexation of Palestinian land

UMSU condemns the Australian government’s support for Israel and its ongoing crimes including occupation, settlement, expansion, and ethnic cleansing.

UMSU condemns any and all forms of antisemitism against students of the Jewish faith and stands in solidarity with Jewish students.

UMSU recognises that Israel’s actions are not representative of the Jewish community. Similarly, Israel’s crimes are its responsibility alone and not that of Jewish people worldwide.

UMSU strongly endorses that Judaism and Zionism are not to be conflated as one

Academic Boycott:

UMSU supports the academic boycott movement of Israeli institutions

UMSU calls on the university to participate in an academic boycott and cut ties with Israeli institutions, researchers, and academics that support the Israeli oppression of Palestinians

Divestment Actions and support:

UMSU calls on the university to divest from corporations complicit in and profit from the Israel apartheid
Direct the CEO to update the UMSU ethical register and boyco8 companies that support and profit from the Israeli apartheid in line with the BDS Australia organization guidelines.

UMSU publishes a statement prepared by the UMSU POC department and relevant student groups announcing this policy and its support for Palestnian rights.

To direct the General Secretary to update the UMSU stance booklet to reflect this policy and subsequent vote on it.

To direct the President and POC officer to send a letter of support to the Australian Centre for International Justice affirming UMSU’s support for Palestine on behalf of UMSU.

Civil society organisations welcome the Future Fund’s exclusion of Elbit Systems, and call on the Federal and Victorian Governments to drop Elbit or risk complicity in serious violations of international law

Civil society organisations welcome the Future Fund’s exclusion of Elbit Systems, and call on the Federal and Victorian Governments to drop Elbit or risk complicity in serious violations of international law

15 March 2022 | For immediate release

Civil society organisations working for human rights for Palestinians and others welcome the news of Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Future Fund’s exclusion of Israeli arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems Limited from its investment portfolio because of allegations of its involvement in the production of cluster munitions.

The organisations call on the Future Fund as part of its duty to undertake responsible investment and human rights due diligence, to investigate its investment portfolio and divest from any entity involved in or complicit in serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights against the Palestinian people. Some of these serious violations include credible and well documented abuses which amount to serious crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Australia’s public funds should not be involved in furthering grave human rights abuses. 

They further call on the Victorian Government to immediately cease its partnership with Elbit Systems Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems, to establish a research ‘Centre of Excellence’.  

The organisations call on the Australian Government to suspend its defence cooperation with Israel and any facilitation of defence industry partnerships. These recommendations were supported by a coalition of Palestinian human rights organisations in a 2021 submission with the ACIJ to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which is currently conducting a feasibility study into a Free Trade Agreement with Israel.

The Palestinian people suffering under decades of Israeli military occupation and apartheid have called on the UN Security Council and all states parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, which includes Australia, to impose a two-way arms embargo to protect Palestinians lives.

The organisations are encouraged by the Australian Government’s rapid response to the crisis in Ukraine through implementing measures in responding to and condemning Russia’s illegal invasion and act of aggression in Ukraine. The Australian Government must respond similarly to Israel’s serious, decades long and continued violations of international law.

Executive Director of the Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ), Ms Rawan Arraf, said:

“The Victorian Government’s outrageous partnership with Elbit Systems should never have been made. We believe the Victorian Government either neglected to consider the human rights implications of the partnership, or ignored them outright. It’s a shameful partnership that must be suspended on account of Elbit’s complicity with serious human rights abuses and crimes under international law. If it continues, the Victorian Government will stand accused of complicity with international crimes.  

“Further, the Australian Government’s eagerness to enhance defence industry cooperation and partnerships with Israeli defence firms has been forged in complete disregard of Australia’s international legal obligations, and respect for Palestinian human rights. All of these must end.”

Hilmi Dabbagh from BDS Australia said:

“BDS Australia sees the Future Fund’s divestment from Elbit as a milestone development which will have ramifications right throughout state and federal Australian governments, companies and academic institutions whose partnerships and trade with Elbit are highly problematic and in breach of international law.

“BDS Australia has been calling for an end to Australia’s ties with Elbit for many years and has seen the growth of a strong grassroots movement which in 2017 saw the Royal Flying Doctors end its association with this Israeli arms company. Most recently our campaigns in relation to the Victorian and federal Government’s associations with Elbit, have been met with silence from both governments but are strongly supported by growing numbers of people who want to see an end to Australia’s complicity with the apartheid regime of Israel.”

Bishop George Browning, President of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) said:

“Australia must not explore a free trade agreement with Israel and should halt all military trade while Israel continues its flagrant violations of international law. Israeli officials are under investigation by the International Criminal Court, demonstrating the seriousness of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. Australia must not be complicit.”

Dr Sue Wareham, President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) said:

“The terrible Ukraine crisis has shown us that governments can act quickly when human rights are being grievously violated.  We call for the same level of action to protect the Palestinian people who have long suffered from Israeli military aggression. There is no place in Australia for partnerships with companies, such as Elbit Systems, that are complicit in inflicting human harm.”

Endorsed by:

Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN)

Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ)

Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA)

Australian Palestinian Professionals Association (APPA)

Australian Students for BDS (ASBDS)

Australians for Palestine (AFP)

BDS Australia

Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP)

Federation of Italian Migrant Workers and their Families (FILEF)

Free Gaza Australia

Free Palestine Melbourne

Friends of Hebron (FOH)

Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA)

General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW)

Justice for Palestine, Meanjin (Brisbane) (JFP)

Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)

Palestine Fair Trade Australia (PFTA)

Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network (PIEN)

Palestinian Christians in Australia (PCiA)

Media enquiries contact:

Australian Centre for International Justice – Rawan Arraf: [email protected]

BDS Australia: [email protected]

Notes:

Elbit Systems is an Israeli based manufacturer of military, security and surveillance equipment and is widely known as a major research and development partner to Israel’s Ministry of Defence, who after the US Government, is its second biggest customer.

Elbit is known for its drones (UAVs) and land weapons.

In 2018 Elbit Systems completed its acquisition of Israel-state owned IMI (Israel Military Industries). IMI – which was merged into Elbit Systems Land manufactures and supplies a wide range of weapons, munitions, missiles, tanks and military technology to the Israeli military. Elbit is also a major partner to Israel’s police and Ministry of Interior. More information on Elbit can be found on WhoProfits.com.

Elbit Systems is excluded from many investment funds, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds worldwide including but not limited to:

  • NZ Super excluded Elbit Systems in 2012 for involvement in Israel’s illegal construction of the Annexation Wall in the occupied West Bank;
  • Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, NBIM excluded Elbit Systems in 2009 for supplying surveillance equipment used on the occupied West Bank’s Annexation Wall;
  • Norway’s KLP excluded Elbit Systems in 2010 for its involvement in the illegal construction of the Annexation wall. It excluded it again in 2021 for its role in production of cluster munitions;
  • Sweden’s largest state pension funds AP1-4 excluded Elbit in 2010 for its involvement in the Annexation Wall and illegal settlements the occupied Palestinian territory;
  • Denmark’s Dankse Bank excluded Elbit in 2010 for its role in the Annexation wall and in illegal settlements;
  • Sweden’s Nordea Bank;
  • Sweden’s SEB Group;
  • HSBC divested from Elbit in 2018;
  • French investment firm AXA Investment Managers divested from Elbit in 2018; and
  • Luxembourg’s general pension fund, Fonds De Compensation, FDC in 2014. 

In February 2021, the Victorian Government announced it has entered into a partnership with Elbit Systems Australia to build a ‘Centre of Excellence for Human and Machine Teaming’. For more information see  Stop Elbit BDS campaign

In September 2017, the NSW Royal Flying Doctor Service confirmed it will not contract with Elbit Systems.

Elbit is said to have supplied equipment to the Myanmar military, before the military’s ethnic cleansing clearing operations against the Rohingya people and following the military coup in February 2021.

According to West Papuan human rights advocates, Elbit is alleged to have supplied equipment to the Indonesian military used to suppress human rights in occupied West Papua.Attachments area

Let’s Push PUMA Over to the Right Side of History. Global Day of Action, February 12

Let’s Push PUMA Over to the Right Side of History. Global Day of Action, February 12

BDS Australia is joining groups around the world for the Global Day of Action on February 12 and regular rolling protests as we step up pressure on PUMA to ends its partnership with Israeli apartheid.

PUMA’s continued support for Israeli apartheid puts it squarely on the wrong side of history.

The year 2021 saw unprecedented support for Palestinian rights across the world of sports, as apartheid Israel escalated its violent oppression of Palestinians.

In record numbers, star athletes took courageous stands in stadiums and on social media to millions of followers, including footballers Riyad Mahrez, Paul Pogba, Mohamed ELNeny, and Benjamin Mendy, cricket stars Babar Azam, Rashid Khan, and Irfan Pathan, basketball players Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Layshia Clarendon, and boxing champs Amir Khan and Badou Jack, among others.

Olympic hopefuls Fethi Nourine and Mohamed Abdalrasoo renounced life-long dreams and withdrew from the games, refusing to compete with official Israeli representatives.

Teams, players, coaches and fans kept Palestinian rights front and center at the Arab Cup finals.

Let’s step up the pressure and make 2022 the year PUMA ends its partnership with Israeli apartheid.

Join the Boycott PUMA Global Day of Action, February 12.

PUMA sponsors the Israel Football Association (IFA), which governs and advocates on behalf of teams in illegal Israeli settlements.

In a leaked internal memo, PUMA admitted its celebrity ambassadors and business partners are increasingly questioning its support for Israeli apartheid.

More than 120,000 people have signed the SumOfUs petition urging PUMA to “stop its complicity with the Israeli apartheid state.”

A PUMA lawyer told us the #BoycottPUMA campaign is making their lives “miserable.”

Let’s help PUMA find its way over to the right side of history!

Join groups around the world calling on PUMA to drop the IFA.

Join rolling protests in Adelaide and Sydney – email [email protected] for details

Sign the letter to the CEOs of Athletics Australia, Carlton Football Club, Melbourne City FC, Richmond Football Club, Queensland Maroons, Melbourne Vixens and NSW Blues who are sponsored by Puma.

PUMA has a window of opportunity to live up to its progressive image and stated “devotion to universal equality.” PUMA’s contract with the IFA ends in June of this year. Now is the time to act to convince PUMA to cut ties with Israeli apartheid.

The #BoycottPUMA coalition, which stretches from Auckland to Oakland, is launching regular rolling protests at PUMA shops, offices, and sponsored clubs. Vibrant protests at PUMA shops have succeeded in shutting them down. Join a protest near you or organize one in your area!

Amnesty International declares Israel guilty of apartheid

Amnesty International declares Israel guilty of apartheid

The declaration by Amnesty International that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, in its treatment of Palestinians, must lead to enforcement action by the international community, BDS Australia said today. The AI report, which echoes previous findings by Human Rights Watch, as well as two Israeli human rights monitoring groups, B’Tselem and Yesh Din, should end any dispute about the nature of Israel’s crimes against humanity, the group added – the only topic for discussion now should be how to bring them to an end.

 “Australia must stop denying, minimising or excusing Israel’s criminal actions, and instead join with others in the international community in calling for an end to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, dating from 1967; the scrapping of the racist Nation State law of 2018 and the dozens of laws and regulations that discriminate against non-Jews, and for Palestinians to be facilitated in exercising their lawful right of return to the homes from which they were driven out at the inception of the State of Israel in 1948”, said Jake Lynch, patron of BDS Australia and Associate Professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

 “We now have a comprehensive, evidence-based report, running to over 200 pages, from the world’s most respected human rights monitoring group, a Nobel Peace laureate in its own right, setting out exactly how Israel is in breach of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. The oppression of Palestinians continues only with the collusion of international actors including Australia, which promotes trade including the sale of deadly weapons with Israel, as well as offering diplomatic protection from the consequences of its crimes. This must cease”, said BDS Australia convenor and Palestinian refugee, Hilmi Dabbagh.

 “The tide is turning and no amount of spin from the Israel lobby and Zionist supporters in Australia can stop it. Desperate calls for anti-BDS legislation and claims of antisemitism from those organisations which support Israel’s colonialist and apartheid policies are falling on deaf ears and rightly so,” according to Dr Peter Slezak, Deputy Convenor of BDS Australia who is the son of holocaust survivors.

 “Palestinians welcome this report, on top of those from Human Rights Watch and others, as long-overdue recognition of the reality we are living with every day.

Apartheid for us means constant violent attacks both by ‘soldiers’ of the Israeli occupation force and by armed racist thugs from the settler movement, driving us out of our homes and ancestral lands, denying our rights to freedom of movement and assembly. This is our struggle, but it is also a crime against humanity and a scar on the world’s conscience. The world now must take action to bring accountability, isolate apartheid and hasten its end”, said Hiba Farrar, BDS Australia committee member and Palestinian lawyer.

SEE AMNESTY’S REPORT – Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity

BDS Alert: Join the global days of action 28, 29, 30 January 2022

BDS Alert: Join the global days of action 28, 29, 30 January 2022

The BDS Palestine National Committee and the Palestinian Stop the Wall campaign are calling for global mobilization in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their steadfast resistance against Israel’s forced displacement in Jerusalem’s neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, in Al-Naqab, the Jordan Valley, the southern Hebron Hills and beyond. 

These Global Days of Action are in response to the call by the Bedouin-Palestinian community of Al-Naqab for international solidarity to support their struggle against Israel’s ongoing Nakba.

The last week has seen a dramatic escalation in the intensity and brutality of Israel’s relentless policy of expulsion that still threatens to expel thousands of Indigenous Palestinians more from their homes and lands. As Human Rights Watch and other international human rights organizations have said, this wave of forced displacement is yet another manifestation of Israel’s system of apartheid against all Palestinians. Apartheid is a crime against humanity in international law.

We call for intensifying our efforts to end international complicity by states, corporations and institutions in Israel’s policies of apartheid, settler colonialism and military occupation. In other words, we call for meaningful solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against Israeli attempts to dehumanize them and to criminalize their popular resistance to cultural erasure and the ongoing dispossession and displacement. 

Let’s demand effective accountability for complicity in war crimes now.

Take the lead from Palestinians in Al-Naqab as they organize another mass protest this Sunday. 

Be inspired by the sumud (steadfastness) of the Palestinian community in Sheikh Jarrah, and by the words of Mahmoud Salhiya: “We’d rather die in our land with dignity than surrender.” They embody the determined resilience of the entire Palestinian people, including Palestinians besieged in the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Palestinian women, men and youth continue to rise up for their rights, whether in their homeland or in exile, where they’ve lived as refugees ethnically cleansed from their homeland in the 1948 Nakba and denied their inherent and UN-stipulated right of return. 

ACTIONS

On 28, 29, 30 January – the Global Days of Action to #EndEthnicCleansing, let’s:

  • Sign the Statement
  • Organize/join protests, vigils and rallies. 
  • Pressure our Federal and State government to take action, including lawful and targeted sanctions and military-security trade bans, and call out those who are complicit with apartheid Israel. – join our #StopElbit campaign to tell the Victorian state government and the Australian federal government to abandon any association with Israeli arms manufacturer and distributer, Elbit Systems and Elbit Systems Australia.
  • Strengthen and build BDS campaigns against the JNFHyundai Heavy IndustriesG4S/Allied UniversalNSO (Pegasus)HP, and others to hold corporations enabling Israeli apartheid accountable for their complicity.
  • BDS Australia’s Don’t Buy HP campaign page is HERE  –  Take Action today against HP’s complicity with Israeli oppression.
  • Build support for the UN to investigate and end Israeli apartheid, as was done with South African apartheid.
  • Join us and the social media storm on Facebook Instagram and Twitter and use hashtags #EndEthnicCleansing and #UnitedAgainstApartheid as well as #SaveSheikhJarrah, #SaveAlNaqab, #UNInvestigateApartheid.