In July 2021 BDS Australia wrote to the Premier of the Victorian government, Daniel Andrews calling on him to reconsider its support for the Israeli arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems. We will post any response we receive regarding this letter.
The Hon. Daniel Andrews Premier of Victoria Level 1/1 Treasury Place, East Melbourne, VIC 3002 July 22, 2021
Dear Premier Andrews,
Re: Victorian government funding to Elbit AI Centre
We write on behalf of BDS Australia, a coalition of ten organisations nationally which is dedicated to informing and raising awareness in the Australian community in support of a just peace for the Palestinian people.
We do this primarily by organising and implementing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) initiatives as part of the Palestinian led, international and peaceful effort to pressure the State of Israel to adhere to international law and human rights conventions in relation to its illegal actions and denial of Palestinian rights.
BDS Australia is deeply concerned about the Victorian Government’s support of Elbit Systems of Australia and the Melbourne based AI Centre of Excellence which this company is establishing. As you may be aware, Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest arms manufacturer and the primary supplier of the Israeli military and a key global manufacturer and exporter of drone and military surveillance technologies. Elbit Systems and its Australian subsidiary, Elbit Systems of Australia are deeply complicit in the actions of the Israeli government against civilian Palestinian populations, particularly in Gaza.
We have attached a Briefing Note prepared by one of our member organisations (CJPP), which includes information on why Australian states and the Australian federal government should not partner with this company.
We would also like to draw your attention to this comprehensive online resource on Elbit Systems by the American Friends Service Committee which is a Quaker organization that recommends Elbit for divestment and gives detailed evidence on why this conclusion has been reached.
The July 2021 edition of New Scientist reported on the use of ‘swarm drones’ in Israel’s most recent attack on Palestinians in Gaza in May this year. Local media reports indicated that these drones were supplied by Elbit and that this was the first operational use of this form of weaponry. The drone swarm gathered intelligence, carried out attacks as well as providing targeting information for guided mortar weapons according to the Israeli Defence Forces. Elbit Systems are notorious for advertising and selling their weapons as being ‘field tested’ or ‘battle proven’ and it is well documented that they are always ‘field tested’ on Palestinian civilians.
We note that the Victorian Government supports ‘high standards of ethical conduct and compliance with all applicable laws’ in its ethical procurement policy and ask whether the government applies a similar standard in relation to its support for businesses or companies especially weapons manufacturers such as Elbit Systems of Australia.
We draw your attention to the fact that Australia is a signatory to the UN Arms Trade Treaty of 2013, which was negotiated primarily due to concerns over violations of international humanitarian law and human rights that were occurring in various conflicts around the globe. The Israeli government’s violations of international law have been thoroughly documented over many decades as has its use of weapons manufactured by Elbit Systems. Given this evidence, we believe that the Victorian governmenthas an obligation to cease supplying funds or support to Elbit Systems of Australia.
We join with the international Stop Elbit campaign calling on governments to end all ties with Elbit, and we ask that you take urgent action to cancel the Victorian Government’s association with Elbit Systems of Australia.
We look forward to your response. BDS Convenor and Deputy Convenor
Update: This petition was signed by 21,991 Australians and will be presented to the Australian Federal parliament in August 2021. The Foreign Minister, Senator Marise Payne is required to respond to this petition within 3 months.
BDS Australia believes that it’s time the people who want to see justice for Palestinians, tell our politicians that it’s time to sanction Israel. We have one month until this petition is closed and it will be presented to the parliament. Australia is obliged to take action to support international law. BDS Australia is committed to championing the rights of Palestinians in law.
Successive Israeli governments have severely discriminated against and brutally dominated Palestinians since the Nakba of 1948. The latest attacks in Gaza and throughout East Jerusalem, the West Bank and inside Israel show that the Nakba has never ended. The systematic oppression of Palestinians amounts to grave breaches of international law and the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. Palestinians have been subject to ongoing largescale military assaults and an illegal 14-year physical and economic blockade in Gaza; a brutal 54-year military occupation; decades-long restrictions on freedom of movement; widespread imposition of an illegal settlement enterprise; confiscation of land and mass denial of residency rights. These actions intentionally and severely deprive millions of Palestinians of key fundamental rights and protections including the right to self-determination, the right of return, the right to equality and non-discrimination, and the rights to life, liberty, health, water, and security. The Australian Government has a responsibility as a signatory to numerous international treaties to take action against Israel due to these grave violations of international law, which are also criminal offences under Australian law.
We therefore ask the House to 1) publicly condemn Israel’s assaults on Palestinians. 2) support targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on Israel. 3) support the suspension of defence cooperation with Israel and end defence industry partnerships. 4) introduce legislation to ban all settlement goods and services from entering Australia. 5) prevent Australian companies from operating, trading, or investing in settlements or contributing to their maintenance and/or expansion.
BDS Australia wrote to the UTS Vice Chancellor,Professor Attila Brungs and the Vice President (Advancement), Celia Hurley about the UTS series of webinars hosted by the Israeli Technion university and other partnerships UTS has with this institution – see details here. We received a response which indicates that UTS does not take these issues seriously and does not intend to address them.
This is the response from Celia Hurley to our letter which was shared as an online petition to her and the Vice Chancellor as well.
“Thank you for your email regarding the upcoming webinar event with the Technion Institute of Technology (Australia) and your request that UTS cancel all ties with Technion. UTS has a commitment to academic freedom and international knowledge exchange, and as a public university we base our partnerships on advice from the Australian Commonwealth Government. We acknowledge the enormous human impact the recent conflict is having and as a university committed to social justice our sympathies are very much with all of those affected. The UN Security Council has not, to date, made any sanctions against Israel regarding the conflict and we are not aware of any international law violations. At this point in time UTS is not aware of any new information that leads us to conclude that Technion is not an appropriate partner and that the event should be cancelled. With kind regards, Celia Hurley”
BDS Australia does not accept this response from the University of Technology Sydney – this is our reply:
We note your response to our call that UTS cancels its involvement in the forthcoming Technion sponsored webinar and to cease all partnerships with any institutions that contribute to the oppression of Palestinians and violations of international law.
We do not accept the arguments you have provided for not withdrawing from your association with the Israeli Technion University. You note that UTS is committed to social justice however your actions in partnering with this university raise serious concerns about whether UTS can legitimately make this claim.
It is extraordinary that you refer to the UN Security Council and the lack of sanctions against Israel regarding this conflict especially given that every academic employed by UTS with the vaguest understanding of this issue, would be able to refer you to the ongoing veto that the United States has used and again most recently in relation to Israel’s ongoing grave violations of international law. The United States this month repeatedly blocked the adoption of a joint UN Security Council statement calling for a halt to the current hostilities despite the fact that all other 14 members of the Security Council were in favour of issuing this statement. In addition, since 1947, Israel has been the subject of almost 300 UN General Assembly resolutions – the most censured state in the history of the UN.
Regarding violations of international law, we draw your attention to this recent submission by the Australian Centre for International Justice and the Palestine Human Rights Organisations Council, which details Israel’s breaches of international law and also to the Human Rights Watch report on the Israeli crimes of apartheid and persecution. Israel’s violations of international law are well documented and have been on the public record for many years. Again, any academic at UTS with basic knowledge could provide them for you and any other decision maker who is ignorant of these facts.
You state that you base your partnerships on advice from the Commonwealth Government which we presume means that unless a country is sanctioned by Australia, UTS will not consider ongoing violations of international law, human rights and UN Resolutions alone, as a reason to cease partnerships. We would like to point out that as a high contracting party to the Geneva Conventions, Australia has accepted the full scope of obligations under these Conventions which oblige it to respect and apply them in ‘good faith’.
The fact that the Australian Commonwealth Government is in breach of its duty under these Conventions, does not relieve UTS of the responsibility to thoroughly investigate its partnerships with institutions and bodies implicated in grave breaches of international law through their support for states like Israel.
The Israeli government’s actions to deny and hinder the right of Palestinians to an education are well documented. This Norwegian Refugee Council report shows that there were an average of 10 attacks per month on West Bank kindergarten and school students, staff and facilities between 2018-2020. Unicef documented that in 2016 alone, 256 education-related violations were documented in the West Bank, affecting nearly 30,000 students. This World Council of Churches / Unicef report offers detailed analysis and documentation of the way the Israeli Occupation and illegal settlement enterprise has impacted many thousands of Palestinian children’s education.
Technion’s collaboration with the Israeli government and with Israeli weapons manufacturers is well documented. Elbit Systems have partnered with Technion in numerous ways including a joint vision systems research agreement, through which Elbit offered grants to selected Technion undergraduate and graduate students and researchers in the electrical engineering department. Elbit uses vision systems in its helmet-mounted displays for pilots in combat aircraft. Many employees of Elbit Systems are Technion graduates, including the current CEO.
The euphemisms used in your response, such as “the enormous human impact” and “sympathies are very much with all of those affected” are familiar tropes used by the corporate media and other unofficial spokespeople for the Israeli state. They imply that this is an equal ‘conflict’, which is grotesque when one considers the asymmetry, the enormity of Palestinian suffering and the fact that Israel is an occupying power with the fourth largest army in the world.
We look forward to UTS actions which demonstrate that this institution takes its commitment to social justice and human rights seriously.
We will continue to advocate for UTS to cease all partnerships and affiliations with Technion and any other company or institution which supports Israel’s violations of the human rights of Palestinians and their right to justice under international law. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Sign the petition to UTS Vice Chancellor, Professor Attila Sprungs and Vice President (Engagement) Celia Hurley HERE.
Professor Atilla Brungs Vice Chancellor University of Technology Sydney
Celia Hurely Vice President (Advancement) University of Technology Sydney 25 May 2021
RE: UTS partnership with Technion University
We write to express our concern at the University of Technology’s partnership with the Israeli Technion University. We are appalled at your decision to yet again, partner with Technion Institute of Technology, to host the webinar “Exploring the Dark Web – Cybercrime and Cyber Security in the Digital Age” on the 27 May. Technion directly contributes to what has been described as Israel’s military-security-surveillance complex, which includes systematic digital and cyber oppression.
It is May 2021 and yet again Palestinians in Gaza have faced the full onslaught of Israeli military and chemical devastation. Across the rest of historic Palestine, protestors face live & rubber tipped bullets, tear gas, stun grenades, skunk water spray tanks, home raids, arrests, beatings, fortified checkpoints, extreme systems of surveillance, religious based extremist militias and neighbourhood gangs.
Technion has played an active developmental role in Israel’s military-security-surveillance complex. An example is the remote-controlled Caterpillar DR: a gigantic, armoured bulldozer used to demolish Palestinian homes. Technion also operates in a symbiotic relation with Israeli weapons manufacturers, such as Elbit and Rafael, accepting their grants, while dedicating research & education to developing tools of colonial warfare, such as drone systems used for surveillance, intimidation, and murder of Palestinians (and Lebanese). These technologies are sold to many governments who also use them in the oppression of their people. See below for more information about Technion’s involvement in the violation of Palestinian rights.
All around the world, including here, boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns have successfully exposed the collaboration and crimes of Elbit and Rafael, and Technion has also been the subject of similar protest campaigns.
After completing webinar registration for this forthcoming event, participants receive an email containing statements from the heads of Technion and Technion Australia, claiming a commitment to diversity while “Israel is under attack.” Palestinians are never named but referred to as “those nearby” or “Arabs:” divided into categories of religion, consistent with the sectarian and apartheid policies of the state. In practice, Technion provides special educational benefits for students who serve in the Israeli army, which overwhelmingly privileges Jewish students.
These types of partnerships, even if they build careers, budgets, and scientific discoveries, are in fact a danger to the very heart of what education should be and violate UTS’s professed commitment to social justice. They transform the university into an ally of power and hegemony, where the colonised and poor serve as “laboratory” for immoral profit making.
Along with the various other links that UTS maintains with Technion, these partnerships implicate UTS in violations of international law, including the apartheid practices of military occupation, annexation of land and resources, and theft of homes across Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
We stand with Palestinians in their historic and dignified uprising. As they forge histories, educators must cease to make alliances with those who oppress them.
We demand, unequivocally, that UTS cancel its involvement in the webinar and cease to partner, promote, or contribute to any institution or event involved in Israel’s ongoing violations of international law, and crimes against the Palestinian people.
…For a number of years, the Technion has practiced discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel while, at the same time, supporting the Israeli Army (1); it has enrolled its know-how in the service of the Israeli military-industrial complex (2). In doing so, it has become an important part of the Israeli system of occupation of the Palestinian territories and of its long train of illegal acts there (disproportionate use of force, colonization, expropriations, destruction of houses, expulsions, arbitrary arrests, assassinations, etc.)
1. The Technion, like a number of Israeli universities, maintains a discriminatory policy with respect to Palestinian students citizens of Israel. These constitute nearly 20% of the student-age population in Israel but only 5% of those pursuing a Masters and 3% of those studying for a Ph.D. At the same time, the Technion is the Israeli university which has the highest proportion of students and professors coming from the military, former military and reservists. Those students who are serving in the military or in the reserves benefit from advantages aimed at facilitating their academic career; the Technion even proposes special training in mechanics for officers in the Israeli army.
The freedom of expression and to demonstrate of Palestinian students citizens of Israel is limited: those who demonstrate peacefully their disapproval of Israeli policies on campus are sometimes arrested. They are not authorized to form student associations or to organize events on campus which criticize Israeli policy towards Palestinians. On the other hand, associations favourable to Zionism and demonstrations in favour of the Israeli army are authorized on campus.
2. The Technion maintains solid research relations with companies in the Israeli military-industrial sector. For decades it has contributed towards the development of technologies used in the armament and systems of armament used against the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. In recent years, the Technion’s students and researchers have participated in work on the creation of an armoured, remote-controlled bulldozer (IDF Caterpillar D9) which has been used to destroy the homes of the Palestinian civil population (25,000 houses destroyed since 1967). They have also participated in the development of drones, conceived, and used for military purposes in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
Technion has close links with the computer science and telecommunications corporations: Verint, NICE Systems, Amdocs, Check Point and Comverse, which furnish the Israeli army with surveillance and monitoring programs aimed at the Palestinian population; but also programs used to assist airplanes and drones in the course of military operations.
Finally, Technion works in close collaboration with two of the largest Israeli arms manufacturers, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Elbit Systems.
In 2001 the Technion announced the creation of an MBA program, conceived specifically for managers of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, further reinforcing the already-existing links between the university and the arms company. Starting in 2006, joint research has been carried out in developing missiles. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems thus benefits from the research carried out by students and scientists at the Technion. The company makes not only missiles but also the electronics for Israeli armored units. The armament and systems of armament produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems are employed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Similarly, in 2008, Elbit Systems created within the Technion a joint research center for electron optics. Elbit Systems recruits an important part of its managers and engineers from the Technion. Its CEO has even declared that the relationship that exists between his company and the Technion played an essential role in guaranteeing the success of Elbit Systems in the competitive and globalized world of armament manufacturers.
Elbit Systems produces not only drones but also a whole series of arms and munitions (for artillery, armored units and aircraft) used by the Israeli army in its military operations in Gaza and the West bank, during which numerous unpunished war crimes have been committed. Moreover, Elbit Systems provides and maintains surveillance and spying material for the Israeli army along the Wall of Separation and around a number of Israeli colonies in the West bank and East Jerusalem. In 2004, the International Court of Justice declared the Wall, like the colonies, contrary to international law; as in apartheid, they give rise to discriminatory measures against Palestinians. A certain number of European pension funds and banks have withdrawn their participation in Elbit Systems because of its implication in violations of international law.
3. Through its close and long-standing links to the Israeli military-industrial complex, the Technion has contributed to the elaboration and implementation of armament and systems of armament. Now all this has been and is still being used by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, subject to a blockade that is illegal under international law and to intense bombings and incursions of the Israeli army, such as:
Operation Cast Lead (December 2008 and January 2009) which provoked the death of 1,350 Palestinians of which nearly two-thirds were civilians—men, women and children;
Operation Pillar of Defense (November 2012) which provoked the death of 160 Palestinians of which at least 70 were civilians—men, women and children;
Operation Protective Edge (July–August 2014) which provoked the death of 2,150 Palestinians of which nearly two-thirds were civilians—men, women and children.
These armaments and armament systems have been and still are being implemented by the Israeli army in the West Bank—subject to an active policy of colonization, illegal under international law, just as are the numerous repressive measures taken against the Palestinian population—not to mention their use during the murderous 2006 war in South Lebanon of unhappy memory with its bombings of the village of Cana which caused the death of 28 civilians, including women and children.
Now international law considers that the supplying of arms and material to the perpetrator of a war crime amounts to aiding and abetting the criminal act and thus incurring criminal responsibility of the supplier as an accomplice (Art. 25, §3 and §30 of the Statutes of the International Criminal Court: Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone, Judgements of 16 March 2006, §40, and of 26 April 2012, §149).
It follows that a strong presumption of complicity in war crimes falls on Israeli arms corporations but equally on Israeli universities and laboratories such as the Technion. This presumption may indeed concern French professors, researchers and students having participated in scientific programs which facilitate the development or the use of armaments and armament systems used by the Israeli army and, of course, those who have supervised or financed their research. Such a presumption would be liable to give rise to criminal complaints in France and to the opening of a preliminary inquiry or a judicial investigation. The presence of students of École Polytechnique or of French researchers at the Technion poses a criminal risk for them.
Racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and inequality continue to grow around the world. In recent months, we have seen how people in the Global South and people of color, political prisoners, unhoused people, migrants, and refugees, among many others, have suffered from the scourge of COVID19, which has further exacerbated their vulnerability.
We have also seen how millions of people around the world have taken to the streets to protest against systemic racism, patriarchal violence, climate injustice, neoliberal austerity, and economic inequality, among other oppressions that continue to suffocate us. These protests for long-denied justice have inspired us to keep resisting injustice, to continue dreaming of freedom, and to keep insisting on our rights, in a united global front against racism and oppression.
Now, more than ever, we need you, we need each other. We need all our voices united across the world to end racism, colonialism, and apartheid.
Palestine remains a central testing ground for global repression. Israel’s apartheid regime tests its militaristic and racist ideologies, surveillance tools, and weapons of oppression and racial domination on Palestinian bodies and society for export to the world as “field-tested.” These tools end up aggravating the militarized and racial oppression in many countries around the world, from fortress Europe to the US, from India to Myanmar, from Brazil and Honduras to South Sudan and Rwanda, and far beyond. For the last 17 years, IAW has been organized around the globe to protest some of these injustices and to advocate for Palestinian freedom, justice, and equality as part of the struggle to attain our indivisible justice. Let’s continue to weave ever more powerful networks of hope and mutual, intersectional solidarity. Together we are unstoppable.
This year Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) will join the observance of the International Day Against Racism by organizing a global and massive virtual protest to resist racial discrimination, colonialism, and apartheid and to celebrate the diversity and connectedness of our struggles. We want our voices to be loud despite all the repression, but we can’t do it without your help.
How to join the global virtual protest?
What are creative ways you can get your message across :
Mock checkpoints, dabke, public meetings, speak outs, protests, videos – your imagination is the limit.
Read the text in your preferred language. You can choose English, Spanish, or Arabic or your own native language! If you want to translate the call into your own native language, please make sure to send along with the full English translation of the text and note the language you are using.
Look into the camera.
Shoot in landscape mode (horizontal, not vertical)
When using your cellphone, please record it horizontally and in high quality (1920×1080)
Avoid shaky video:
Ideal to have someone film you
Other options: tripod or selfie stick
Lighting & Background
Find natural light and face the light (when you have the light behind you, it creates a shadow, and you look like you’re in the dark)
The background must be simple. No clutter or movement going on
Close your windows and doors. Find a quiet place with very little background noise.
If you use a headset, please make sure you place the microphone somewhere close to your neck not to see the wires.
On International Women’s Day, as Puma launches the “She Moves Us” marketing campaign while supporting Israeli apartheid, Palestinian and international women in sports respond with #SheBoycotts.
Today, International Women’s Day, Puma is launching “She Moves Us,” a marketing campaign to “celebrate the women who have moved culture and sports forward.”
She Moves Us, but Puma supports illegal Israeli settlements forcing Palestinian women and their families from their homes. She Moves Us, but Puma supports Israel’s military occupation preventing Palestinian women athletes from traveling to matches. She Moves Us, but Puma supports Israeli apartheid, including medical apartheid denying millions of Palestinians vaccines during a pandemic.
Join us in celebrating Palestinian women in sports. Share the video of Palestinian athletes, including a player from the Women’s National Football Team, calling to boycott Puma until it ends support for Israeli apartheid.
Women in sports around the world are joining their Palestinian colleagues, from including a yoga instructor in France, acrobatic dancers in Italy, cyclists in the UK and running coaches in the US. They’re calling on Puma to end its support for Israeli apartheid that separates Palestinian families, demolishes Palestinian homes and arrests Palestinian children from their beds during night raids. Share the video of women in sports joining #SheBoycotts.
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.