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.

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. 

Israeli Government sponsorship of the Sydney Festival 2022

Israeli Government sponsorship of the Sydney Festival 2022

Photo/Graceenee
"The Writing is on the Wall: Annexation Past and Present", an exhibit that examines the plight of the Palestinian people, focusing on the wall built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Photo/Graceenee

TAKE ACTION

Tell Sydney Festival 2022 not to take money from apartheid Israel

Sign the petition here

BDS Australia has written to the Sydney Festival and to the Sydney Dance Company regarding their acceptance of sponsorship by the Israeli government. We are calling for this sponsorship to be rejected because of Israel’s ongoing crimes against Palestinians and its use of sponsorships like this to attempt to artwash these crimes.

TAKE ACTION AND WRITE TO THE SYDNEY FESTIVAL JOINING OUR CALL FOR THEM TO REJECT ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPONSORSHIP
SEND AN EMAIL – [email protected]val.org.au
or sign the petition

UPDATE:

BDSA meeting with Chair and Executive Director of Sydney Festival

Dec 18, 2021 — 

As a result of BDS Australia’s recent letter and request to meet with the Sydney Festival due to their acceptance of sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy for one of the forthcoming festival performances, a BDS Australia representatives met with the Chair of the Sydney Festival, David Kirk MBE and Chris Tooher, Executive Director, Sydney Festival on Friday Dec 17th. 

We presented information on the grave human rights violations and ongoing breaches of international law by Israel in relation to Palestinians and gave an overview of BDS and the PACBI (cultural and academic) guidelines.

We called on the Festival to review its sponsorship deal with Israel and to take a public and ethical stand in support of Palestinian rights. 

In response, the Festival representatives explained that as a result of the concerns which had been raised with them not only from BDSA but also other Palestinian advocacy organisations and artists, they were seriously re-evaluating their processes for seeking sponsorships for festival performances . They expressed concern that this issue had caused a number of artists contracted to perform at this Festival, to threaten to withdraw from and boycott the 2022 Festival. 

We asked that they use the human rights framework of the UN Global Compact when re-evaluating their processes. We also explained that BDS was not antisemitic. 

They acknowledged our concerns and expressed their intention to review their approach to sponsorships which will be taken up in their next board meeting shortly



Letter from BDS Australia Dec 2, 2021

Letter to: Olivia Ansell
Director
Sydney Festival

cc: Lizzi Nicoll
Deputy Executive Director
Sydney Dance Company

We write to express our deep concern at the 2022 Festival of Sydney’s acceptance of sponsorship from the Israeli government via the Israeli Embassy, Canberra as a Star Partner and as a sponsor of the Sydney Dance Company’s festival event, Decadance.

The signatories to this letter are members of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Australia which supports the 2005 call by 170 Palestinian civil society organisations for BDS as a peaceful and non-violent means to pressure the State of Israel to end the illegal military occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem from 1967; to end the crippling blockade of Gaza which has been in operation since 2006; and to allow the internationally recognized Right of Return to Palestinian refugees to the land and homes from which Israel forcibly expelled them in 1948; and to ensure equal rights for all Palestinians living in Israel according to international law and human rights conventions.

Arts, culture, and politics cannot be separated. Israel funds cultural events and ambassadors to ‘art-wash’ the human rights violations it perpetrates against the Palestinians by presenting itself as a normal ‘democracy’ and one which can be accepted internationally, despite its ongoing grave violations of human rights and international law. This is a conscious policy of the Israeli government. Nissim Ben-Shitrit, former Deputy Director General at the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry has said: “We regard culture as a hasbara [propaganda] tool of the highest order, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture”.

Israel has progressively taken large tracts of land which are internationally recognized as Palestinian land – dispossessing successive generations from their rights and maintaining a brutal military occupation which imprisons thousands of civilians including children and condones the unlawful and frequent killing of civilians. It has maintained a blockade of Gaza which has destroyed the local economy and denied freedom of movement to millions of people. It has engaged in largescale attacks against civilians in Gaza, killing and maiming tens of thousands in the last 13 years. It practices apartheid against Palestinians in Israel and throughout the Occupied Territories and is subject to countless UN resolutions condemning these violations of international law which are documented by many international, Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations.

The apartheid nature of the state of Israel has been recently documented by Israel’s most prominent human rights organisation, B’tselem and also Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

We ask that you seriously reconsider the Sydney Festival’s association with the State of Israel and stand with the Palestinian people and with international law by refusing to accept any sponsorships from or collaborations with Israel until such time as Palestine is free.

We ask that you share this letter with the Festival’s Board of Directors, and we look forward to your response.

We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and to discuss this matter further.

Yours sincerely,
BDS Australia on behalf of the following member organisations:

  • Australians for Palestine (AFP) VIC
  • Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) SA
  • Australian Palestinian Professionals Association (APPA) NSW
  • Australian Students for BDS (ASBDS)
  • Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP) NSW
  • Federation of Italian Migrant Workers and their Families (FILEF) NSW
  • Friends of Hebron (FOH) NSW
  • Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA) WA
  • General Union of Palestinian Workers NSW
  • Justice for Palestine, Meanjin (Brisbane) (JFP) QLD
  • Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network (PIEN)
  • Women for Palestine
BDS Australia calls on Victorian Premier to end support for Elbit

BDS Australia calls on Victorian Premier to end support for Elbit

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