Feb 15, 2009

The majority of Gazans are registered as refugees

The majority of Gazans are registered as refugees

Gaza population ‘rising rapidly’: BBC

The population of the Gaza Strip increased by almost 40% between 1997 and 2007, according to the results of a Palestinian census.
The survey, taken before Israel’s recent offensive, showed the territory has a population of 1.4 million people. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimated the annual growth rate at 3.3% and said the population would double in 21 years at that rate. The UN estimates the world’s current average population growth at 1.17%.

Prominent French acadeics and intellectuals call for BDS! Israel’s impunity must end: Le Monde

Reports have made it clear that Israel’s actions in Gaza amount to war crimes: a population denied all possibility of escape or self-defense has
been starved, deprived of medical care, and massacred beyond the view of the media.  Images and accounts of the results of these actions are now reaching us, and they are frankly unbearable.  It is not a matter of “excesses” committed by a few soldiers, but rather of a deliberate policy that borders on ethnic cleansing.  To quote a letter signed by 300 British-based academics and published in the Guardian January 16, ” The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources.”
Israel’s impunity must end.  Neither humanitarian aid nor a call to extend the ceasefire will suffice.  The blockade of Gaza must be lifted and Israel, together with its political and military leaders, must be tried for war crimes.  We ask the French government and the French population to take all practical measures to force Israel to accept these demands, and, first of all, to define and apply to Israel a program of boycott, divestment, and sanctions.
We who have signed this text commit ourselves to cease all collaboration with Israeli institutions participating in the occupation, and declare our
solidarity with those who in Israel struggle courageously for the human, social, and political rights of Palestinians.

List of signatories on the link above

The separation wall that divides much of Israel and the Palestinian territories (pictured here outside Bethlehem) has become a symbol of controversial Israeli policies.

The separation wall that divides much of Israel and the Palestinian territories (pictured here outside Bethlehem) has become a symbol of controversial Israeli policies.

Naomi Klein: Boycott, divestment, sanctions key to ending Israeli occupation

It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.
In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.” The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions—BDS for short—was born.
Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause, and talk of cease-fires is doing little to slow the momentum. Support is even emerging among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel. It calls for “the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions” and draws a clear parallel with the antiapartheid struggle. “The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves.… This international backing must stop.”

Batsheva performance picketed by anti-Israel demonstrators: The Jewish Chronicle

About 25 anti-Israel demonstrators turned out last week to protest the Batsheva Dance Company’s performance at the Benedum Center.
The protest was preceded by a letter to Batsheva, one of Israel’s leading cultural ambassadors, threatening to “call upon our community to boycott and protest your presence, should you remain silent and complacent of your government’s policies, and continue to whitewash and provide cover for your government’s crimes by serving as cultural ambassadors.”
The letter specifically referenced the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza, and was signed by The Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine-University of Pittsburgh. Neither the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, nor the Pittsburgh Dance Council, considered canceling the performance in response to the protestors’ threats, said Veronica Corpuz, director of public relations at the Cultural Trust. Attendance at the performance was likewise unaffected. Protestors included those from the Thomas Merton Center, CodePink and the Coalition for Peace in the Middle East of Youngstown. “Some people have political opinions, and they have the right to express their feelings,” said Yaniv Nagar, company manager for Batsheva.

Protests dog Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company: Straight.com

A local video artist calling for a boycott of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company (at the Vancouver Playhouse February 20 and 21) said she’s concerned that her career may take a hit as a result of her political actions. On January 26, jamie griffiths sent an e-mail to DanceHouse Productions, copied to numerous members of the dance community, stating she was “calling for a boycott of Israeli cultural events due to the illegal military and civil actions occurring at this time in Israel”. Griffiths, who has travelled to Israel and the West Bank three times, is a frequent dance collaborator. “These are all my clients,” she said. “I was concerned about it before I hit ‘send’. I sat and hovered over it for an hour after I’d written it. I kept thinking, ‘Am I really going to do this?’” Griffiths explained that she decided to boycott the production, which has been the target of similar protests and demonstrations during its current North American tour, after reading an article by Naomi Klein that endorsed Palestinian calls for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The world-famous Batsheva is funded by the Israeli government and is often seen as the nation’s biggest cultural ambassador. But reached in Tel Aviv, Batsheva’s artistic director Ohad Naharin said his work transcends political, ethnic, or religious content. He personally opposes the violence in Israel and said he understands the frustration of people who want to fight for human rights. However, he adds: “I think it’s not really going to make a difference to boycott a dance company. I’m thinking, where else can they channel their energy? It should be to get moderate powers and people on both sides to talk to each other. “The boycott is just preventing something that is good….I think artists belong to a group of people who don’t represent the ugly side of Israel. They represent people who have compassion and who are willing to give up a lot for peace. And artists everywhere usually represent something missing from politics: the search for new solutions.”

Prove to Naharin that we can make adifference, and that he can make sucha difference himself – Boycott!

Protestors: Batsheva ‘dancing on Gazans’ graves’: YNet

People arriving at Israeli dancers’ performance in Chicago greeted by dozens of people wearing bandages smeared with fake blood to represent Palestinian casualties in Gaza
People arriving at a performance by Israeli dancers’ in Chicago on Sunday were greeted by dozens of people protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza, the Chicago Progressive Examiner reported Thursday.  Palestine solidarity activists issued a call late last year for protest against the Tel-Aviv based Batsheva Dance Company following its announcement that it would tour the US and Canada between January and March of 2009.
The call for protest was launched in accordance with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which, in turn is modeled on the long campaign against South African Apartheid, the report said.  The Chicago chapter of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) began to organize resistance to a local Batsheva performance just as Israel ended Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. To promote the protest, grassroots communications outfit HammerHard MediaWorks came up with a slogan and graphic that tied the Batsheva to the suffering of Gaza’s residents.  According to the Chicago Progressive Examiner, people excited about the Batsheva performance for its artistic merits arrived at the Auditorium Theater on Sunday, and had to walk past a crowd of about 75 people, many of whom were wearing bandages smeared with fake blood to represent Palestinian casualties. ISM’s Kevin Clark believes that his organization’s goal of convincing Batsheva patrons that supporting an Israeli entity made them complicit with the actions of the Israeli government was accomplished.

Brussels: Israeli exhibit postponed following Gaza op / Eli Senyor in YNet

Exhibition on Tel Aviv’s early years scheduled to open at Belgian capital’s center for architecture delayed after local organizers face demands to boycott Israeli culture.

An exhibit titled “The White City Tel Aviv”, which was set to open in Brussels next week, has been postponed by the Belgian organizers in response to IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.  The hosts – the board of directors of the International Centre for Urbanism, Architecture and Landscape (CIVA) – informed the Tel Aviv Municipality three days ago of their decision to postpone the exhibit due to their belief that it would be “better appreciated at a different time.”

“We received protests that were based on the claims that Israeli culture should be boycotted until the Israeli government changes its policy,” the board said in a letter. On the other hand, the letter continued, there were those who demanded that the exhibition be held in order to portray Israel’s history and image.  “We heard these stances and are convinced that both are valid, but we’ve decided to prevent any kind of debate on the objective of holding this exhibit,” the letter stated.

PCHR – Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: Weekly report

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and
Continue to Impose Total Siege on the Gaza Strip
• Four Palestinians were killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
• One of the victims was extra-judicially executed by IOF.
• Five Palestinians, including one child, were wounded by IOF gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
• IOF warplanes continued to bombard targets in the Gaza Strip.
• Intensive air strikes also continued on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, forcing local people to evacuate their homes.
• IOF conducted 32 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and one into the Gaza Strip.
• IOF arrested 30 Palestinian civilians, including 10 children.
• IOF confiscated quantities of agricultural fertilizers in Jenin.
• IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
• IOF imposed a comprehensive closure on the OPT on the eve of the Israeli elections.
• IOF troops arrested 3 Palestinian civilians, including, at a military checkpoint in the West Bank.
• IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
• Israeli settlers razed 250 donumms1 of agricultural land in Yassouf village near Salfit.

Read the full report on the link above.

US activists urge boycott of Israeli companies – 15 Feb 09

BDS activities are advancing apace even in the Big Apple – NY demo today in support of BDS!

Israeli press bemoans “stalemate”: BBC

Israeli papers agonise over the inconclusive results of Tuesday’s parliamentary elections. With both Tzipi Livni’s centrist Kadima party and Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud claiming victory, commentators speculate about the possible composition of a coalition government.
Commentators discussed the possibility that Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the “extreme right” Yisrael Beiteinu party, would play kingmaker in the formation of the government. Despite polls suggesting that Kadima would emerge as the largest single party, it remained unclear who President Shimon Peres would choose as prime minister.
Several commentators lamented Israel’s system of proportional representation, held responsible for what one writer described as a “political crisis”. One commentator noted the “dangerous” fall in voter participation of Israel’s Arab community. Irrespective of the final result, said one writer, all of Israel’s top political parties are now “by every accepted international standard” right-wing.

British MPs granted Gaza access: BBC

A cross-party delegation of British MPs has been allowed into Gaza to assess the effects of the recent Israeli military offensive. Members of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group were granted entry by the Israeli Defence Force. They hope to spend the afternoon being taken around sites damaged during Israel’s three-week operation. Last month Israel mobilised its forces to stop militants firing rockets at its towns from Gaza. About 1,300 Palestinians are understood to have died in the conflict, while thirteen Israelis died. The MPs say they want to speak directly to people affected and hope to visit international aid operations, including UN-run sites. They plan to stay there until at least Tuesday. As the UK delegation arrived in the region, hopes were dashed that a formal truce could soon be announced between Israel and Hamas, after both sides announced separate ceasefires on 18 January. The Israeli government announced that a captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, would have to be released before such a deal was struck, not as part of a subsequent prisoner swap. The parliamentary group’s chairman Richard Burden, the Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield, is leading the six-strong team.

Hamas ‘set for truce with Israel’: BBC

A long-term truce between the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel may be announced within days, Hamas officials said in Cairo. Border crossings would reportedly be re-opened and a ceasefire would be called for 18 months under the Egyptian-brokered deal. Israel and Hamas called unilateral truces at the end of Israel’s offensive against Gaza last month. US envoy George Mitchell recently urged the sides to extend their ceasefire. There was no immediate Israeli reaction to Thursday’s announcement by Hamas officials. The Israeli army said Palestinian militants in Gaza had fired at least two rockets into southern Israel, without causing damage or casualties. It was not immediately clear which group fired the rockets, which landed near the town of Sderot.

Israeli Peer refused Dubai visa: BBC

Israeli player Shahar Peer has been refused a visa to take part in the Dubai Tennis Championships.
Peer was scheduled to play 15th seed Anna Chakvetadze of Russia in the $2m event on Monday. But the WTA Tour said Peer was denied entry into the United Arab Emirates for the tournament, which features all the world’s top-10 ranked women’s players. UAE officials have not given a reason for the move, but the country does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The only Israelis usually allowed into the UAE do so under dual nationality, and the player’s brother and spokesman Shlomi Peer confirmed she had been denied a visa.

Hampshire College first in US to divest from Israel: Electronic Intifada

Press release, Students for Justice in Palestine (Hampshire College)
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.

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