Balata FC Players to New PUMA CEO: Make the right choice. End Complicity in Israeli Apartheid.

Balata FC Players to New PUMA CEO: Make the right choice. End Complicity in Israeli Apartheid.

Published by on BDS movement website by Players of Balata Youth Club /

January 20, 2023

Palestinian football club Balata, whose player 16-year-old Seed Odeh was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers, calls on new PUMA CEO to end complicity in Israel’s brutal apartheid regime.

Letter to PUMA CEO

Dear Arne Freundt,

We are writing to you as players of the Balata Youth Club, a Palestinian football team in the Balata refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank. We are one of the 235 Palestinian sports teams that are calling for international pressure on PUMA until it ends its complicity in Israeli apartheid.

As the new CEO of PUMA, we urge you to make a break with the past and ensure that PUMA lives up to its stated commitment to human rights.

As you know, PUMA is the main sponsor of the Israel Football Association, which governs and advocates on behalf of teams in illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land.

We are a team of Palestinian refugees. Our families were violently driven from their homes during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and have been forced by Israel to live in our overcrowded camp ever since, denied our UN-stipulated right to return. The illegal Israeli settlements that PUMA supports are the continuation of Israel’s ongoing drive to force Indigenous Palestinians from their land and constitute a war crime under international law. They are part of what Palestinian and international scholars, and organizations like Amnesty International and Human Right Watch, have documented to be a regime of apartheid, which is recognised as a crime against humanity.

Israel’s attacks on Palestinian life and liberty impact all aspects of our existence, including for our team, our main passion: playing football.

In May 2021, on the very same day that PUMA shareholders were meeting to talk about profits, Israeli soldiers shot and killed 16-year-old Saeed Odeh, a promising young player on our team. It was a devastating blow to the entire team and camp, but it also further strengthened our resolve to work to hold companies like PUMA, which help provide apartheid Israel with impunity, accountable.

Since then, Israeli soldiers have shot and killed many other young Palestinian footballers, including 19-year-old Mohammad Ghneim in April 2022, 18-year-old Thaer Yazouri and 14-year old Zaid Ghneim in May 2022, and 23-year-old Ahmed Atef Daraghmeh in December 2022.

As footballers, what we experience is also the reality of millions of Palestinians. The year 2022 was in fact one of the bloodiest years on record for Palestinians in the West Bank living under the brutal violence of Israel’s apartheid regime. Our camp has long been the target of constant night raids by armed Israeli soldiers, who kill our neighbors, including children.

As we brace ourselves for what Israel’s most racist and fundamentalist government ever has in store for us, we commit to continue the struggle for our rights and liberty, while holding all those killed in our hearts. And we know we are not alone.

We are inspired by the growing number of international sports teams that have responded to our call by ending or refusing sponsorship deals with PUMA as long as it remains complicit in Israeli apartheid. We are heartened by the more than 125,000 human rights supporters who have called on PUMA to “stop supporting the Israeli apartheid regime’s oppression of Palestinian people.”

This weekend, groups in dozens of cities around the world will join a Global #BoycottPUMA Day of Action at PUMA shops and offices.

As the new CEO of PUMA, you have a choice to make. PUMA can join the growing global movement to hold apartheid Israel accountable until it respects fundamental human rights, just as was done in the case of apartheid South Africa. Or PUMA can be on record for supporting a brutal apartheid regime that guns down young footballers. Millions will judge PUMA accordingly.

Make the right choice. End PUMA’s shameful contract with the Israel Football Association.

Players of the Balata Youth Club

BDS Australia calls for review of Parliamentary Friends of IHRA

BDS Australia calls for review of Parliamentary Friends of IHRA

BDS Australia has called for a review of the newly established Parliamentary Friends of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

We have made a formal complaint and raised the alarm over this Friendship Group in the Australian Federal Parliament due to the fact that it does not conform to the guidelines for such groups which specify that they should be ‘apolitical’.

The IHRA is an alliance which is focussed on promoting its definition of antisemitism (WDA – Working Definition of Antisemitism) which has been widely and internationally recognised as flawed especially in relation to 7 of the examples which are given to illustrate antisemitism which all pertain to Israel and criticism of Israel.

For an IHRA Friendship Group to be launched in the Federal Parliament, when the WDA is by far the best-known example of the Alliance’s work, risks placing the Group on one side of the debate over Zionism and therefore infringing the requirement for such groups to be apolitical.

The potential of the WDA to stifle legitimate public debate can be seen when considering responses in Australia to the series of recent reports, by respected monitoring groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, finding that Israel is operating a system of apartheid towards the non-Jews who live under its political authority.

You can read our complaint here and use it as a guide to make your own complaint.

TAKE ACTION – CONTACT YOUR LOCAL MP OR SENATOR TO ASK THAT THEY CALL FOR A REVIEW OF THIS FRIENDSHIP GROUP

Letter to RMIT re their partnership with the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems.

Letter to RMIT re their partnership with the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems.

17th August, 2022

Dear Professor Cameron and Dr Andrews,

We write regarding RMIT’s partnership with the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems.

As you will be aware, students, staff and members of the Australian public have expressed their grave concerns about this partnership.

Last week you received the attached letter from Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) which represents some 6,000 Palestinian university academics and staff at more than a dozen higher education institutions in the occupied Palestinian territory calling on RMIT to end its ties with Elbit Systems. This letter outlines the reasons why these fellow academics deplore RMIT’s association 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. The fact that RMIT states that this partnership is for the development of AI to be used for civilian use, does not in any way absolve RMIT from partnering with the company that produces 85% of the military drones used by Israel in assaults on civilians in Gaza.

We note that Professor John Thanharajah, Professor in Artificial Intelligence and Associate Dean of Computer Science and Software Engineering at RMIT states that he has worked directly on several research contracts with the Defence Science Technology group. We have no reason to believe that his work with RMIT doesn’t relate to research that Elbit is working on to further develop its drone technology for use by the Israeli and other military against civilians.

BDS Australia is campaigning to end all military ties with Israel and the companies which support the ongoing oppression, persecution and dispossession of Palestinians.

We will continue to campaign against RMIT’s partnership with Elbit. We are available to meet with you to further discuss this issue and look forward to your response.

Israeli Filmmakers Against Settler Film Fund: ‘Part of the Apartheid Mechanism’

Israeli Filmmakers Against Settler Film Fund: ‘Part of the Apartheid Mechanism’

Sept 1, 2022

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.”

Read more here

Settlement activists establish an illegal outpost near the settlement of Kiryat Arba, in July.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

University of Melbourne Student Union stands with Palestine and supports BDS

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.

BDS & SOLIDARITY – UMSU STANDS WITH PALESTINE

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 around the 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.

General Stances:

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.

Academic Boycott:

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.