BDS Australia condemns the recent violence against students and human rights defenders at York University in Canada. BDS Australia is a coalition of 12 Australian pro-Palestine associations, dedicated to informing and raising awareness in the Australian community in support of a just peace for the Palestinian people.
On 20 November 2019, Canadian human rights activists, students and others were protesting against the presence of former and current Israeli soldiers at York University’s Toronto campus when members of the Israeli lobby violently attacked and assaulted them. The Israeli soldiers were brought to campus by the right-wing Canadian branch of the Israeli organization called Herut. The students protested peacefully and we understand they were assaulted by the members of Jewish Defence League while the university security and police failed to protect them.
BDS Australia stands with activists from Canada and elsewhere internationally to unconditionally reject the assertion that protesting Israeli apartheid and Israeli violations of human rights and international law in relation to Palestine, is antisemitic.
We stand in solidarity with the Canadian students, staff, and others including progressive Jewish Israelis in the struggle against Israeli apartheid and Israel’s ongoing grave violations of international law.
We note that bogus claims of antisemitism against supporters of free and equal rights in international law for all Palestinians are disingenuous and a cynical attempt to discredit the ongoing international condemnation of Israel for its longstanding brutal and illegal colonization of Palestinian land and, oppression of Palestinians.
Signed by BDS Australia committee
27 June 2019:
Eminent American-Jewish international legal scholar Emeritus Professor Richard Falk, will be in Sydney next week. Professor Falk is a tireless advocate for the universal application of international human rights law as the basis for a sustainable peace between Israel and Palestine. He was United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 from 2008 to 2014.
We are disappointed that his views have been characterised as controversial and that, baselessly, he has been labelled ‘antisemitic’ by some pro-Israel commentators, such as in last week’s edition of Australian Jewish News (AJN). Disappointingly the editor of the AJN has so far refused to publish Professor Falk’s point-by-point refutation of the allegations made in AJN, so we publish it here.
We read with alarm that an application has been made to the Minister for Immigration, David Coleman MP, to revoke Professor Falk’s visa. This week we wrote to Minister Coleman, as well as to Senator Keneally as shadow minister, seeking their reassurance that Professor Falk will have no difficulty entering Australia on 2 July.
In reply to Jewish News, Professor Falk asks what is controversial about his view that sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians ‘depends on respect for Palestinians’ rights and an end to Israeli violations of international law.’ As UN Special Rapporteur he was accused of being ‘antisemitic’ or a ‘self hating Jew.’ Yes, he criticised states ‘from the perspective of international law and morality’, but has never criticised the ethnicity or religious identity of any people. Yes he has written about the ‘collective punishment’ of the civilian population of Gaza ‘which is unconditionally prohibited by an occupying power in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.’ That writing ‘was intended as a wakeup call to encourage a more humane and legally appropriate approach to the civilian population of Gaza.’
Barrister and author Greg Barns issued this statement supporting Professor Falk’s visit:
‘In a liberal democracy freedom of speech and ideas must include the ability to present divergent views and opinions on issues. The conduct of Israel and the treatment of the Palestinians is no exception to that core value. Yet too often in Australia critics of Israel and those who, like Richard Falk bring their expertise to the issue and reveal uncomfortable truths, are harassed and bullied by elements of the pro Israel lobby. This preparedness to shut down criticism of Israel should have no place in a nation that purports to defend freedom of speech and freedom of thought.’
Stuart Rees OAM, Professor Emeritus, Univ. of Sydney and founder of the Sydney Peace Prize notes:
‘Zealous supporters of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians display an appalling cruelty and total indifference to the rules of international law. In response to such cruelty, Professor Richard Falk, a highly distinguished jurist and political scientist, has spent a lifetime working to promote peace with justice to benefit Israelis as well as Palestinians. Despite being vilified for his efforts, he continues to advocate respect for universal human rights and will not be stifled or intimidated by bullies. The Australian BDS movement is privileged to welcome Professor Falk to Sydney. He will address one of the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues, a future for Palestine. ‘
A Future For Palestine, with Professor Richard Falk – presentation, then in conversation with Professor Stuart Rees OAM
Parliament of NSW, Theatrette, Macquarie St, Sydney
Thursday 4 July, 2019, 6-8pm
Booking details: HERE
Other enquiries: [email protected]
The Palestinian human rights advocacy organisation, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Australia, condemns the baseless and unprincipled attacks on candidates who expressed their support for Palestine in the recent federal election.
In the lead-up to the election, the ALP’s Melissa Parke and The Greens’ Mehreen Faruqi were among the candidates from both parties attacked in the pages of the Murdoch and Jewish community press for their support for the Palestinian cause and association with the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and the bodies that support its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.
“The insinuation by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry that Melissa Parke’s statement regarding the actions of the IDF at a checkpoint was untrue showed a disgraceful contempt for the facts and led to her unnecessary withdrawal as a strong ALP candidate”, says Hilmi Dabbagh from BDS Australia.
“Melissa Parke’s claims turned out not just to be factual, but on the public record since 2003. The incident, for which the soldier in question was arrested, was reported by Reuters and appeared in The Age in June 2003.”
“The Israel lobby’s efforts to smear supporters of Palestine during this campaign were only too predictable. It is simply chilling that the co-director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, could claim that circumstances could “exonerate” the IDF soldier who made a Palestinian woman drink bleach at a checkpoint. Nothing “exonerates” such a barbaric action.”
“Melissa Parke, Senator Mehreen Faruqi and other candidates who were attacked by the Israel lobby are to be congratulated for their uncompromising support for Palestinians, human rights and international law and their commitment to a just peace for everyone in Palestine-Israel, regardless of their background.”
“The Greens maintained their strong support for Palestinian rights and their refusal to be cowed by the Israel lobby’s pressure is to be commended. They have not yet, however, gone far enough. We encourage The Greens, along with the ALP and indeed all political parties, to fully embrace Palestinian civil society’s call for BDS.”
“In its refusal to take a principled and long-needed stand against Israel’s crimes against Palestinian people, the Australian government has positioned itself as a particularly blinkered and irrational obstacle to peace in the Middle East. BDS Australia urges all Australians committed to peace and justice and the political parties that represent them, to adopt BDS as a matter of urgency.”
 Further information:
BDS is an international grassroots campaign initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005. In the face of the repeated failure of official negotiations to secure peace, the boycott movement emerged as a large-scale, civil-society response to Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian land, and the ongoing violations of human rights and international law that accompany it. BDS supports equal human rights and adherence to international law, and is opposed to racism in all forms including Anti-Semitism.
 Josh Wilson and Susan Templeman (ALP), James Cruz, Emmet de Bhaldraithe, Jonathon Doig and Connor Parissis (The Greens)
17 May 2019
In recent weeks, BDS Australia and its supporters, particularly in the Australian Greens and the ALP, have been the subject of concerted attacks in the pages of the Murdoch press and the Australian Jewish community media.
#BDS is an international grassroots campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005. In the face of the repeated failure of official negotiations to secure peace, the boycott movement emerged as a large-scale, civil-society response to Israel’s ongoing, murderous and illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, and the egregious war crimes and violations of human-rights and international law that accompany it.
Since March last year, as UN figures show, the Israeli military has killed no fewer than 271 Gazans and wounded around 30 000 others, mostly during peaceful protests. In that light, the claim that Israel is committed to peace demonstrates a cynical contempt for the truth.
Israel is an apartheid state. It is not a democracy, nor a model of anti-racism, religious tolerance, democratic freedom or indigenous rights, as its supporters ludicrously claim. The accuracy of apartheid as a characterisation of Israel’s practices towards Palestinians has often been confirmed internationally, including by experts in international law. Already in 2013, writing in The European Journal of International Law, John Dugard and John Phelan concluded that ‘Israeli practices in the occupied territory are not only reminiscent of – and, in some cases, worse than – apartheid as it existed in South Africa, but are in breach of the legal prohibition of apartheid.’ A 2017 report for the UN by Emeritus Professor Richard Falk, who will visit Australia in July, and Professor Virginia Tilley, also concluded that ‘Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.’
People of conscience cannot remain silent while Israel pursues the ruination of Palestinian lives, the confinement of nearly two million people in the open prison of Gaza, the engulfing and de facto annexation of much of the West Bank by illegal settlements, the denial of dispossessed refugees’ right to return to their homes, and the treatment of its own Palestinian citizens as second-class citizens, now constitutionally ratified by last year’s Nation-State law.
Boycotts are a well-established international mechanism of political pressure. BDS aims to end apartheid in Palestine-Israel and secure a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike through pressure on those responsible for and complicit with Israeli apartheid, just like the boycott of South Africa did. Far from manifesting racism against Jewish people, as our opponents claim, BDS is an anti-racist campaign, unreservedly opposed to hatred and discrimination in all its forms, and embraced by, among others, many Jews in Israel and elsewhere. The conflation of BDS with anti-semitism is a deliberate tactic used by the Israeli state to slander BDS supporters and to maliciously misrepresent the movement and its aims.
The Greens are to be congratulated on the support they have expressed for Palestinian rights. They have not yet, however, gone far enough. The Greens, along with the ALP and indeed all political parties, must fully embrace Palestinian civil society’s call for BDS.
In its refusal to take a principled and long-needed stand against Israel’s crimes against Palestinian people, Australia has positioned itself as a particularly blinkered and irrational obstacle to peace in the Middle East. BDS Australia urges all Australians committed to peace and justice in the world, and the political parties that represent them, to adopt BDS as a matter of urgency.
MEDIA RELEASE 16 May 2019
Prominent Australians join Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Australia’s calls for a boycott of this weekend’s SBS broadcast of Eurovision in Israel
Palestinians have asked international viewers not to watch the event this year while the Israeli state continues to commit war crimes, break international law and deny Palestinians equal human rights.
Australia’s entrant, Kate Miller-Heidke has ignored sustained calls from throughout Australia and from rock legend, Roger Waters not to perform and ‘artwash’ human rights abuses by Israel.
Prominent Australians have made the following statements in support of the boycott:
Mary Kostakidis, the former face of SBS News:
“The daily brutality and dispossession faced by Palestinian people shames us all. While the world’s performers come together to compete in a celebration of song and dance we know that the brutality will continue. I applaud those who have refused to take part. Just as sanctions and the courage of people all over the world to stand up for justice brought an end to apartheid in South Africa, more & more of us must demand an end to this cruelty, respect for the rights of Palestinian people and peace with justice. This year, Eurovision is asking us to be blind. We are not blind and we cannot be complicit.”
Colin Friels, renowned actor:
”Given the siege of Gaza and the slaughter of Palestinians, the televising of the Eurovision Song Contest must not be allowed to ‘artwash’ Israeli brutalities. I strongly support the boycott of this event and urge others to do the same.”
L-FRESH The LION, hip-hop artist and 2018 SBS Eurovision judge:
“I stand with the people of Palestine. As an artist and musician, I don’t see how Eurovision can achieve its goal of bringing the world together through music by having its 2019 competition in Israel, while Israel continues to violently occupy Palestine. In respecting Palestinian’s call for a cultural boycott of Israel, I encourage my peers to do the same. We all have a part to play. We cannot remain silent or be complicit in the suffering of Palestinian people.”
Comedian and broadcaster Tom Ballard:
“As a former employee and as someone who likes important, diverse television, I love SBS. As a homosexual, I am required by law to love Eurovision. Both of these things are true. But I’m also compelled to love human rights. I’m compelled to join the call from Palestine to boycott Eurovision this year, to call for an end to the persecution and apartheid of Palestinians and to demand justice from the international community. Thank you for giving a shit and thank you for doing the right thing.”
Writer, actor and multidisciplinary artist Candy Bowers:
“Palestinian artists and musicians are asking for our solidarity, recognising our own relative privilege, to join the boycott of Israel until they win justice and equality. Israeli policy has been about erasing Palestinian culture and ignoring Palestinian voices. I hear their voices and urge others artists in Australia to hear them too. Art and entertainment should never ignore human rights.”
Contemporary Aboriginal artist and 2019 Archibald Prize finalist Blak Douglas:
“I stand in solidarity with my Palestinian brothers and sisters just as I do with my First Nations’ peoples both here and abroad. For SBS management to endorse the Eurovision 2019 contest, they effectively deny the ensuing genocide upon the Palestinian citizens on their homeland in favour of ratings.”
Hilmi Dabbagh, the convenor of BDS Australia, said, “While it is a personal milestone for Kate Miller-Heidke to take her post-natal depression inspired song ‘Zero Gravity’ into the grand final of Eurovision, does she realise that Palestinians suffer some of the worst mental health outcomes in the world and easily the highest rate of mental illness in the Middle East due to the 71-year occupation of their lands?”
“We ask Kate Miller-Heidke to reflect on the impact of her visit on Palestinians and to accept the briefing BDS Australia offered her in December from Palestinians in Australia, and join us in campaigning for equal human rights,” Mr Dabbagh said.
Campaign organiser at BDS Australia
0425282450 | [email protected]
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MEDIA ALERT: BOYCOTT EUROVISION 2019 PROTEST TOMORROW SATURDAY 11AM AT SBS
Supporters of Palestinians’ equal human rights will be loudly telling SBS board and management how disappointed they are that Eurovision 2019 – happening in apartheid Israel in 3 weeks’ time – is being treated as business as usual by the broadcaster, despite a global call for a boycott from Palestinian artists that is supported by thousands of Australians and prominent musicians and artists, including L-FRESH The Lion (former SBS Eurovision judge), Nick Seymour (Crowded House), Blak Douglas (contemporary indigenous artist), Candy Bowers (artist/creator), Miriam Margoyles (actor) and Colin Friels (actor).
SPEAKERS + MESSAGES OF SUPPORT
* Palestine Action Group spokesperson
* BDS Australia spokesperson
* Independent candidate for Wentworth (campaigning for ethical foreign policy focusing on Palestine/Israel and West Papua/Indonesia)
* Mary Kostakidis (former face of SBS News)
* Helen Razer (outspoken journalist and opinion-maker)
* Tom Ballard (comedian and podcaster)
PLACE: SBS, 14 Herbert St, Artarmon
CONTACT: Bruce Knobloch 0425282450