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]
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

Sanction Israel petition

Sanction Israel petition

Update: This petition was signed by 21,991 Australians in the limited time it was online (4 weeks) and was presented to the Australian Federal parliament in August 2021. The then Foreign Minister, Senator Marise Payne responded to this petition and her letter is here and copied below.

May 27, 2021
PETITION TO THE AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL PARLIAMENT

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.

Background

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.

Petition Request

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.

Response by the then Foreign Minister, Marise Payne
October 7, 2021



UTS does not see Israel’s human rights violations as an issue

UTS does not see Israel’s human rights violations as an issue

May 26, 2021

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.

The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Save the Children reported on May 19th that 50 schools in Gaza were damaged by Israeli airstrikes over the past week, impacting some 41,897 children. Three schools were reportedly damaged in Israel by rockets from Gaza.

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.