Boycott of Israeli film fund by Israeli filmmakers
In a significant development against Israel’s use of culture to attempt to hide and normalise it’s crimes against Palestinians, key Israeli film directors and creatives have called out Israel’s apartheid, occupation and art-washing in a public letter declaring they will boycott a government film fund aimed at supporting Israeli film makers working in illegal occupied Palestinian territories.
Some 140 Israeli filmmakers have declared that they will refuse to do business with an Israeli film fund that operates in the West Bank. In a public letter organized by filmmakers Avi Mograbi, Rachel Leah Jones, Liran Atzmor, Yasmin Kini, Noam Sheizaf and others, they state that they will not cooperate with the Samaria Film Fund: They will not apply to it for grants, they will not participate in its projects and they will not be employed by it. They write that the endowment “is not a pluralistic fund, but rather part of the apartheid mechanism.”
“Behind this festival, as well as behind the establishment of the Samaria Film Fund, is not the love of culture but politics, which aims to erase the Green Line and the distinction between a military and civilian regime,” the letter from the filmmakers states. “Therefore, it is unsurprising that leading this political foundation are Esther Allouche, the spokesperson of the Samaria Regional Council, and Yossi Dagan, the chairman of the Samaria Regional Council. The foundation and the festival invite Israeli creators to take an active part in whitewashing the occupation in exchange for financial support and prizes.”
The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) passed an historic motion on August 15, 2022 in solidarity with Palestinians and in support of BDS.
BDS Australia believes this is a major turning point for BDS activism in Australian tertiary institutions and congratulates the UMSU for their ethical stance and for their strength standing strong against threats of lawfare.
Motion on BDS and Solidarity follows this preamble from UMSU
On Monday 15 August 2022, a motion relating to actions in support of Palestine was moved by a student at the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) Students’ Council. This motion was considered following the same process as all valid motions put to Students’ Council.
The motion was debated publicly and passed 16 votes to three with one abstention. The resultant policy has been incorporated into UMSU’s Stance Booklet which can also be accessed on our website.
UMSU considers that the motion is robust, was supported by appropriate consultation and was passed with due diligence by Students’ Council.
UMSU recently engaged an independent agency to facilitate a consultation process with relevant stakeholders, including pro-Palestinian and Jewish bodies on campus. This consultation process was conducted to help inform Students’ Council about student perspectives on this topic. It was not conducted for the purpose of preparing a motion. The consultation process was completed on 1 August 2022.
UMSU and its predecessor organisations, has maintained a 130-year tradition of students standing up for human rights issues, including those relating to international affairs. This is consistent with the purpose, mission and values of UMSU.
UMSU continues to encourage respectful debate of international affairs on campus and deplores and denounces bigotry and hate speech in all its forms. Following research, consultation and engagement, UMSU does not believe that supporting the Palestinian cause and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is anti-Semitic. This is a position that is shared by many organisations and commentators aroundthe world, including the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
Our highest priority, as always, is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students. UMSU has a diverse student body and Students’ Council regularly considers motions on issues about which people feel passionately– as always UMSU encourages all students/stakeholders to engage with each other respectfully.
Minutes UMSU – 15 August 2022 – Meeting 13
Students have been key participants in the fight against the illegal colonization and occupation of Palestine by protesting, organizing, and educating fellow students. Student unions and associations across the world continue to formally endorse BDS. As one of the biggest universities in Australia, the University of Melbourne’s monetary and academic connections to the State of Israel have helped legitimize the narrative created by the state of Israel. Thus, the University of Melbourne’s Student Union must take a clear and firm stance to communicate both to the university and the world that the apartheid and oppression of Palestinians will not be ignored, upheld, or accepted by the university’s student body.
1. UMSU stands against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and condemns the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians
2. UMSU supports the self-determination of the Palestinian people and their right to engage in self-defence against their occupiers
3. UMSU deems the use of Zionism to justify the illegal occupation of Palestine as racist and colonial
4. UMSU recognises that Israel is an apartheid state in accordance with prominent human rights organisations like Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and Humans Rights Watch.
5. UMSU condemns the Australian government’s support for Israel and its ongoing crimes including occupation, settlement, expansion, and ethnic cleansing.
6. UMSU condemns any and all forms of antisemitism
7. 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.
1. UMSU supports the academic boycott movement of Israeli institutions in accordance with the PACBI guidelines: PACBI Guidelines for the International Academic Boycott of Israel | BDS Movement
2. UMSU calls on the university to participate in an academic boycott and cut ties with Israeli institutions, researchers, and academics to be in harmony with the Palestinian call for boycott, as a contribution towards upholding international law and furthering the struggle for freedom, justice and equality
Divestment Actions and Support:
1. UMSU calls on the university to divest from corporations complicit in and profit from the Israel apartheid and that operate on illegally occupied Palestinian land.
2. Direct the CEO to update the UMSU ethical register and boycott companies that support and profit from the Israeli apartheid in line with the global BDS guidelines.
3. To direct the President and POC Officers to write and publish a joint statement announcing UMSU’s decision to adopt BDS and its support for Palestinian rights to be published on all UMSU socials.
4. To direct the General Secretary to update the UMSU stance booklet to reflect this policy and subsequent vote on it.
5. To direct the President and POC officers to send a joint letter of support to the Australian Centre for International Justice affirming UMSU’s support for Palestine on behalf of UMSU.
(This statement was co-ordinated by PACBI – the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel – https://bdsmovement.net/pacbi which is part of the Palestinian led BDS movement. )
Palestinian academics call on RMIT to cut ties with Elbit –
11 August 2022
Palestine’s largest union of academics and tertiary education employees has called on RMIT university to end its ties with the Israeli arms company, Elbit.
In a forceful statement, the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) which represents some 6,000 Palestinian university professors and staff at more than a dozen higher education institutions in the occupied Palestinian territory, has written to RMIT Vice Chancellor, Prof Alec Cameron, to the Head of the Academic Board, Dr Sharon Andrews, to Professor John Thangarajah, Professor in Artificial Intelligence and Associate Dean of Computer Science and Software Engineering and to the University Council and Student Union, and urged them to suspend all collaboration with Elbit Systems.
‘Partnering with institutions or companies complicit in Israel’s apartheid regime contributes to prolonging Israel’s violent rule over Palestinians and comes with serious legal and moral concerns. And partnering with a company that works closely with that regime to produce weapons and repressive surveillance systems used against not only indigenous Palestinians but other oppressed communities around the world takes those concerns to an entirely different level.
‘Our faculty members in Gaza and their students have lived through repeated Israeli military assaults, including the most recent attack, which has killed at least 44 Palestinians, including 16 children, and damaged infrastructure including 1,600 homes and parts of Al Quds University.
‘They know that Elbit Systems provides 85% of the military drones used by Israel in those assaults. They know that drones, mostly supplied by Elbit Systems, killed 164 Palestinian children in Gaza in 2014 alone. They know that during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in May 2021, the Israeli Air Force dropped Elbit-produced MPR 500 bombs on Palestinian civilians. They know the constant sound of Elbit drones buzzing in the skies of Gaza, interrupting their studies and research and exacerbating their traumas.
‘As those suffering under a purely man-made disaster, including an Israeli-imposed 15-year land, sea and air blockade made possible by Elbit technology, please understand that it will be of little interest to our members in Gaza that your particular project with Elbit Systems is reportedly for civilian use during natural disasters. This does nothing to alleviate the moral and legal concerns.
‘Our members also know that Elbit Systems markets its weapons around the world, including to other oppressive regimes, as “battle-proven” and “field-tested.” Our members know that they are the subjects of those tests.
Today students and academics at RMIT are protesting the university’s association with Elbit and this statement from Palestinian academics will be read out as they stand in solidarity with those in Palestine suffering under the violence perpetrated by the Israeli state using Elbit weapons and technology.
Full statement from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees here
More information on Elbit and the BDS Australia call to end all military ties with Israel here.
Letter from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) to RMIT re Elbit collaboration
(This statement was co-ordinated by PACBI – the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel – https://bdsmovement.net/pacbi – which is part of the Palestinian led BDS movement. )
To the attention of:
Professor Alec Cameron, RMIT Vice Chancellor Dr Sharon Andrews, RMIT Academic Board Chair RMIT University Council Members RMIT University Student Union, c/o RUSU General Secretary Sheldon Gait Professor John Thangarajah, RMIT Associate Dean of Computer Science and Software Engineering
Subject: RMIT’s partnership with Elbit Systems
Dear Prof Cameron, Dr Andrews, Members of the University Council, RUSU, Sheldon Gait, and Prof Thangarajah,
We are writing to you as the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), the principal faculty union in the occupied Palestinian territory. We represent 6,000 Palestinian university professors and staff at more than a dozen higher education institutions.
We were shocked to learn that the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has partnered with apartheid Israel’s weapons producer, Elbit Systems. We urge you to suspend all collaboration with this company.
We would first like to explain our use of the term apartheid. Many of our members, and Palestinian scholars in general, have for decades studied and documented Israel’s regime of racial domination and systematic oppression of Indigenous Palestinians, concluding that it constitutes the crime against humanity of apartheid, as defined in international law. Recently prominent Israeli and international human rights organizations, includingAmnesty International, Human Rights Watch, andB’Tselem, have issued detailed reports coming to the same conclusion.
Partnering with institutions or companies complicit in Israel’s apartheid regime contributes to prolonging Israel’s violent rule over Palestinians and comes with serious legal and moral concerns.
Partnering with a company that works closely with that regime to produce weapons and repressive surveillance systems used against not only Indigenous Palestinians but other oppressed communities around the world takes those concerns to an entirely different level.
While not an international household name, Elbit Systems is certainly notorious among Palestinians, including our members.
Our faculty members in Gaza and their students have lived through repeated Israeli military assaults, including the most recent attack, which has killed at least 44 Palestinians, including 16 children, and damaged infrastructure including 1,600 homes and parts of Al Quds University. They know that Elbit Systems provides 85% of the military drones used by Israel in those assaults. They know that drones, mostly supplied by Elbit Systems, killed 164 Palestinian children in Gaza in 2014 alone. They know that during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in May 2021, the Israeli Air Force dropped Elbit-produced MPR 500bombs on Palestinian civilians. They know the constant sound of Elbit drones buzzing in the skies of Gaza, interrupting their studies and research and exacerbating their traumas.
As those suffering under a purely man-made disaster, including an Israeli-imposed 15-year land, sea and air blockade made possible by Elbit technology, please understand that it will be of little interest to our members in Gaza that your particular project with Elbit Systems is reportedly for civilian use during natural disasters. This does nothing to alleviate the moral and legal concerns.
Our members know that the Israeli military chose Elbit Systems to produce its artillery cannons despite a German company winning the tender, over concerns that Germany would forbid the cannons from being used to fire cluster munitions. Our members know that Elbit Systems has no such concerns. In fact, Australia’s sovereign wealth fundexcluded Elbit Systems from its investment portfolio over allegations of involvement in the production of cluster munitions.
Our members stuck at crowded military checkpoints while trying to get to their university, or driving for hours to get around Israel’s apartheid wall that cuts through and annexes large swaths of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, know that Elbit Systems produces the surveillance technology used on that oppressive infrastructure to keep Palestinians caged in ever diminishing Bantustans.
Our members also know that Elbit Systems markets its weapons around the world, including to other oppressive regimes, as “battle-proven” and “field-tested.” Our members know that they are the subjects of those tests.
Our members know that Elbit Systems provides surveillance technology for the US wall on the border of Mexico backed by former president Donald Trump and specifically-built surveillance towers that violate the privacy and sovereign rights of the Tohono O’odhamNation. Our members know that cyber weapons produced by Elbit Systems and sold to Ethiopia were used to spy on opposition members.
In short, our members, and Palestinians as a whole, know that Elbit Systems provides the deadly technology enabling Israel’s apartheid rule and supports oppressive regimes around the world.
RMIT’s website includes a land acknowledgement statement and emphasizes its respect for Indigenous peoples of Australia.
We ask that you also show respect for Indigenous Palestinians living under Israel’s Elbit-powered regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid by ending RMIT’s collaboration with Elbit Systems. It is the only option if RMIT intends to uphold its commitment to “making a difference both locally and globally.”
Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees
BDS Australia condemns Melbourne’s RMIT University partnering with the Israeli arms company, Elbit Systems.
Elbit Systems of Australia’s (ELSA) Centre of Excellence has teamed up with RMIT University and the Victorian Government to develop drone technology for civilian use.
This two-year partnership will undertake two joint research projects using drones to assist with mass evacuations during natural disasters and other emergencies.
BDS Australia maintains that partnering with Elbit for such projects is unconscionable given Israel’s use of Elbit drones and other weapons over many years against Palestinian civilians creating ongoing manmade disasters in Gaza and in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Elbit’s weapons have all been developed and ‘field tested’ for use against Palestinians – who are being progressively dispossessed from their lands and property by the apartheid Israeli government. Israeli forces use arms manufactured by Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries to commit serious violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.
In 2018 both HSBC and AXA Investment Managers divested from Elbit due to its involvement in the production and commercialization of cluster munitions and white phosphorus shells. In 2020, the City of Liverpool in the UK cancelled the Elbit-sponsored Electronic Warfare Europe arms fair on ethical grounds after a campaign of 40,000 emails protesting at the city’s involvement. More information here. In March 2022, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Future Fund excluded Israeli arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems Limited from its investment portfolio because of allegations of its involvement in the production of cluster munitions.
BDS Australia calls on the Victorian state government, RMIT and the Australian federal government to abandon any association with Elbit.
rejecting the Victorian Government’s and RMIT University’s support of the Israeli weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems and Elbit Systems of Australia and demanding that all financial and other support and collaboration with this company and its Australian subsidiary, is withdrawn.
We are calling on the following people to reject Elbit due to its ongoing collaboration with the Israeli state’s illegal and violent oppression of Palestinians.
PAT CONROY MP, FEDERAL MINISTER FOR DEFENSE INDUSTRY DANIEL ANDREWS, PREMIER OF VICTORIA RMIT Academic Board Chair – Dr Sharon Andrews RMIT Professor John Thangarajah
This website is maintained by BDS Australia, which is affiliated with the coalition of Palestinian organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement and by the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a BNC member organisation.