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Free Palestine


End Notes

March 15, 2009

Volume 7

Number 3

1. US Campaign Update: Save the Date: 8th Annual National Organizers’ Conference in Chicago, September 12-13, 2009; National Coalition Against Censorship Covers Gaza Ad

2. Gaza Action: Poetry and Power to Support the Gaza Accountability Project; Members of Congress Visit Gaza

3. Challenging U.S. Policy Update: No Mention of US Military Aid to Israel in FY2010 Budget Outline; Act to End US Military Aid to Israel

4. Standing Against Apartheid Update: Israeli Apartheid Week Events; US Campaign on Africa Now; Israeli Apartheid in the News

5. Boycott & Divestment Update: March is Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Month; Support Hampshire College Divestment; UK Government Boycotts Israeli Tycoon Lev Leviev & other exciting BDS news!

6. Expressions of Nakba Update: Expressions of Nakba: Coming to a City Near You

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Hampshire College first in US to divest from Israel

[From ~  Students for Justice in Palestine (Hampshire College), Feb. 12, 2009]

Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, has become the first of any college or university in the US to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. More than 800 students, professors and alumni have signed SJP’s “institutional statement” calling for the divestment.

The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 February 2009 by the Board. By divesting from these companies, SJP believes that Hampshire has distanced itself from complicity in the illegal occupation and war crimes of Israel.

Meeting minutes from a committee of Hampshire’s Board of Trustees confirm that “President Hexter acknowledged that it was the good work of SJP that brought this issue to the attention of the committee.” This groundbreaking decision follows in Hampshire’s history of being the first college in the country to divest from apartheid South Africa 32 years ago, a decision based on similar human rights concerns. This divestment was also a direct result of student pressure.

The divestment has so far been endorsed by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Rashid Khalidi, Vice President of the EU Parliament Luisa Morganitini, Cynthia McKinney, former member of the African National Congress Ronnie Kasrils, Mustafa Barghouti, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, John Berger, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, among others.

The six corporations, all of which provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are: Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola and Terex. Furthermore, our policy prevents the reinvestment in any company involved in the illegal occupation.

SJP is responding to a call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as a way of bringing nonviolent pressure to bear on the state of Israel to end its violations of international law. SJP is following in the footsteps of many noted groups and institutions such as the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in the UK, the Israeli group Gush Shalom, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the American Friends Service Committee.

As well as voicing our opposition to the illegal occupation and the consistent human rights violations of the Palestinian people, we as members of an institute of higher education see it as our moral responsibility to express our solidarity with Palestinian students whose access to education is severely inhibited by the Israeli occupation.

SJP has proven that student groups can organize, rally and pressure their schools to divest from the illegal occupation. The group hopes that this decision will pave the way for other institutions of higher learning in the US to take similar stands.

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Divestment from Israel | By Kevin Alexander Gray

Barack Obama’s inauguration coming as we celebrate of Martin Luther King Day predictably draws linkages between the two. Many use Obama’s election to claim a realization of the “dream.”  Others mumble something about a post-racial America. I suspect that King, if alive, would reject such nonsense. Although when asked “who he thought King would support” in the 2008 primary campaign Obama made a good case for answering “Nobody,” it is possible that King may have supported Obama.

King was a politician of sorts, although not so much at the time of his assassination. We love King now, but at the end of his life he wasn’t so popular.  Younger activists criticized him and called him names such as “Da Lord” – mocking his once high place in civil rights politics. President Lyndon B. Johnson and a host of government officials, local and national, condemned him when he spoke out against the Vietnam War.   King was not universally cheered when he marched, to his death, with the garbage workers in Memphis striking for fair wages and respect.  Truth be told, he was jeered, even by some blacks.

Sure, we love King now, but there was a time when people turned their back on him and his message. Continue reading

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Stop the Criminal and Immoral Massacre of Palestinians!

The Black Workers for Justice joins the tens of millions of people around the world who are outraged by the vicious assault by the Israeli Defense Force on the Gaza Strip. As of New Years Eve, the death toll is 380 Palestinians with over 1400 injured, overwhelmingly civilians. Innocent men, women and children in the densely populated city of 1.5 million people continue to be at risk.

This blatant and extreme violation of human rights and international law must end immediately. We are calling on all legislators, the Bush administration and President- Elect Obama to use the considerable political and financial influence they have to make the Israelis cease the bombings. Politics and the strength of the Israeli lobby in the US cannot continue to put the lives of millions of people at risk in what is becoming one of the worst humanitarian crises of this era.

Infrastructure has been destroyed including schools and factories while hospitals have been overwhelmed with the sick and injured. The current need for food and medical supplies has been worsened by the continuing blockade that prohibits fuel, food, equipment and other humanitarian goods from coming into the city. This has been the case for 18 months. In the current crisis seriously injured people who need treatment in Egypt due to lack of adequate medical facilities in the Gaza are experiencing difficulties in crossing the borders. There has been a lack of electricity and other essential services resulting in deplorable conditions for residents. The UN reported a Human Dignity Crisis on December 18, days before the bombing commenced.

Occupation and Resistance:

We recognize that the Palestinians are resisting an occupation and the use of military force is permitted under international law. This does not justify targeting civilians. On the same token Israeli responses that clearly cannot avoid non-combatants is not justifiable or legitimate self defense. Moreover, what amounts to collective punishment is a violation of international law and is immoral in the extreme.

The Occupation of Palestinian territory is classic colonialism with apartheid features including a wall that restricts people’s movement for work, business, culture and family life. This Occupation continues to be supported by the US government. The F-16s and Apache helicopters as well as the TOW, Hellfire and Bunker missiles that are being used are provided by the US government meaning that our tax dollars support this carnage and oppression. The US government provides Israel with $3 billion in military aid annually.

Black People Express Their Humanity:

Our history and recent experiences remind us of how white supremacist and imperialist regimes respond to misery and suffering. The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow segregation should be a constant reminder to us. Katrina, our most recent experience with inhumane policies and treatment should move us to determined and immediate support for Palestinians. We feel the pain of the Palestinian people.

We have to resist the call of misguided Black religious leaders who think this is fulfillment of prophecy and scriptures. We have to listen to the faith leaders that understand that this is a case of politics and an affront to the very faith traditions they profess. They recall that for a century there were those that justified slavery and racism based on their distorted religious understandings.

Stand Up and Speak Out:

Black people and workers in particular must be in the forefront of the growing resistance to this atrocity. We will join with religious, labor and community groups. We will unite with Arab, Muslim and other advocacy groups. We will collect funds and material aid for the embattled families of the Gaza Strip. We condemn the ramming and damaging of the humanitarian ship bringing supplies to the Gaza and support the efforts of former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney to come to the aid of Palestinians.

We especially call on President Elect Obama to take the mandate for Change to alter US policy regarding the Israeli/Palestinian situation. This means an immediate halt to the bombings. It means forcing Israel to engage in peace negotiations with all the elected representatives of the Palestinian people.

Black Workers for Justice
December 31, 2008


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