`Intensify pressure!' -- (updated June 8) Call by Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee gains support
By the Palestinian
BDS National Committee (BNC)
Occupied Palestine, June 1, 2010 -- Palestinian civil society
calls for intensifying boycott and sanctions as Israel massacres
humanitarian relief workers and international solidarity activists.
The Palestinian Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) strongly condemns last
night’s fatal attack by the Israeli navy on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla
carrying humanitarian aid to the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. The
BNC conveys Palestinian civil society’s condolences to the families and
friends of those killed by the Israeli assault and warmly salutes the
principled solidarity and moral commitment of all those involved in the
Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
In response, the BNC calls on international civil society to:
Mobilise for an emergency global
BDS day of action on Saturday, June 5, 2010
– the 43rd anniversary of the Israeli
occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem
Pressure governments to start implementing trade sanctions
and arms embargos.
We call specifically on transport and dock workers and unions around
the globe to:
The Freedom Flotilla, which was attacked in international waters in
violation of international law, was carrying relief supplies that Israel
has persistently prevented from entering Gaza, including medical
supplies, cement and food. Israel’s siege is considered a
form of collective punishment, a war crime under Article 33 of the Geneva
Convention. All of the relief workers and activists on board the Gaza
Freedom Flotilla ships were unarmed. In legal terms, Israel’s military assault
against the Freedom Flotilla is an act of aggression against the countries whose
flags the ships were carrying; politically, it is an assault against
human decency and all people of conscience around the world who support
freedom and justice.
Israel’s impunity is the direct result of the international
community’s failure to hold it accountable for its ongoing occupation,
colonisation and apartheid against the Palestinian people. Israel’s most
recent war crimes committed in Gaza and documented in the Goldstone
report as well as crimes committed in 2006 against the Lebanese people
did not trigger any UN or official sanctions, entrenching Israel’s
feeling of being above the law. In fact, Israel’s grave
violation of international law was recently rewarded when the OECD voted
unanimously to accept its membership. The BNC urges international civil
society to end this deep and fatal complicity.
The BNC also welcomes and affirms the call of the UN expert on human
rights Professor Richard Falk who stated, “It is time to insist on the
end of the blockade of Gaza. The worldwide campaign of boycott,
divestment, and sanctions against Israel is now a moral and political
imperative, and needs to be supported and strengthened everywhere.”
The UN Security Council has, unsurprisingly, failed to hold
Israel accountable for its aggression against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
The BNC calls upon the UN General Assembly, the
European Union, the Arab League and their member states to undertake
practical measures which will end Israel’s impunity for its massive and
systematic violation of international
law, including by:
Immediately ending all collusion with Israel’s unlawful
blockade of the Gaza Strip and pressuring Israel’s to guarantee
unrestricted humanitarian access and freedom of movement of people and
products into and out of the Gaza Strip;
Bringing to justice all Israeli officials and military personnel who
took the decision and/or implemented this latest massacre as well as
earlier war crimes;
Pressuring your government to immediately suspend arms trade with
Israel, and to implement trade sanctions and arms embargos against
In particular, we call on the EU to suspend the
EU-Israel Association Agreement, the Mercosur to
suspend the FTA, India to reverse decision to hold
negotiations around an India-Israel FTA and to stop arms deals with
Israel, and Turkey to impose an arms embargo on Israel.
The BNC also calls on people of conscience
and citizen groups all over the world to intensify BDS
campaigns against Israel as the
most effective means of holding
it accountable to international law and ending its fatal impunity.
SC/9940 of 31 May 2010, UN Security Council, Presidential Statement
Swedish port workers to block Israeli ships and Israeli goods
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
By Bjorn Borg
The Svenska Hamnarbetarförbundet (Swedish Port Workers Union) has today given notice of the blockade of
all Israeli ships and cargo to and from Israel which is managed by the
union members. The blockade will be effective at. 00:00 Tuesday, June 15
and lasts until at. 24:00 Thursday, June 24.
The reason for the blockade is the unprecedented
criminal attack on the peaceful ship convoy In Gaza. Several peace
activists were killed by Israeli commandos and other participants were
detained without any reason.
Swedish Port Workers Union, which supports the Ship
to Gaza, like the action to protest against the state of Israel of
international law perpetrated against a convoy of peace activists and
material supplies due to the People also a legal blockade suffering
population of Gaza.
Swedish Port Workers Union requires that the
assault are brought to justice, that international law is respected by
the State of Israel and that the blockade of Gaza immediately lifted.
Swedish Port Workers' Union would urge other unions
and other organizations to take similar initiatives and calls for a
general blockade of Israeli goods until the Palestinian people's rights
have been satisfied in general and in particular the blockade of Gaza
For further information contact:
Bjorn Borg A. Federal Chairman 070-680 95 48
Peter Annerback member Executive Committee 073-546
Rolf Axelsson member Executive Committee 070-950 89
COSATU condemns Israeli state piracy, supports boycott,
divestment and sanctions campaign
May 31, 2010 -- The
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is outraged at the
murder by Israeli commandos' of at least 20 people -- and injuries to a
further 60 -- as a result of their armed attack on a convoy of ships
carrying aid to the people of Gaza last night.
COSATU sends its
condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives
and calls upon the people of the world to condemn this act of Israeli
The six-ship flotilla, with 750 Palestine
solidarity activists from around the world on board and carrying 10,000
tonnes of aid for the people of Gaza, left Cyprus on Sunday and had
been due to arrive in Gaza today.
Then, when it was about 64 km
out to sea, in international waters, Israeli armed forces boarded the
largest vessel and fought with those on board. The activists say Israeli
troops came on board shooting. Israel is now reported to be towing the
boats to the port of Ashdod and says it will deport the passengers from
there. The ships were bringing the people of Gaza 10,000 tonnes of
badly needed concrete, toys, workbooks, chocolate, pasta and substantial
medical supplies. It was acting in accordance with international law.
fully supports the call on the international community to pressure
their governments to condemn this brutal deed and hold Israel
accountable for the murder of foreign civilians at sea and illegal
piracy of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid.
federation welcomes the decision by the government of Spain and Sweden
to withdraw their ambassadors from Israel and calls upon the South
African government to follow their lead.
The flotilla was an
international response to the plight of the people of Gaza, following
Israel's closure of the border. Amnesty International in their Annual
Human Rights Report concluded that the siege has "deepened the
ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food
insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of
five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and
statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it
was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a
flagrant violation of international law."
The United Nations has
continuously stated that only a fraction of the required aid is entering
Gaza due to what it calls "the medieval siege". John Ging, the director
of UNRWA in Gaza, has specifically expressed the need for the flotilla
to enter Gaza.
The European Union's new foreign affairs minister,
Catherine Ashton, has just reiterated its call for, "an immediate,
sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of
humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza".
also calls for greater support for the international boycott,
divestment and sanction campaign against Israel, which is proving again
to be violent and ruthless in attacking and murdering those who stand in
its way. We urge all South Africans to refuse to buy or handle any
goods from Israel or have any dealings with Israeli businesses.
reaffirms its support of the inalienable right of the Palestinian
people to national sovereignty and the same human rights as any other
people. We demand the immediate end to the Israeli siege and the illegal
occupation of the sovereign territory which has been violently seized
from the Palestinian nation.
South African government's recall of Israeli ambassador welcomed, now cut all economic and trade ties!
Issued by the Coalition for a Free Palestine
June 3, 2010
The Coalition for a Free Palestine, as well as numerous Palestinians and
Palestinian civil society organisations that we are in touch with, welcome the
announcement by South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and
Cooperation Ebrahim Ebrahim of the recall of South Africa’s ambassador from
Tel Aviv. The action was taken in protest against Israel’s murderous attack on
unarmed civilians in an aid flotilla sailing in international waters.
The recall by the South African government – as well as similar actions by
other countries such as Sweden, Spain and Turkey – are an indication to the
Apartheid Israeli regime that the world is no longer willing to tolerate its
brutal impunity and terrorism. The regime’s repeated violations of
international law and United Nations resolutions make a mockery of the notion
of international law. That it has not, for the past six decades, been forced to
comply with the decisions of the international community in respect of its
gross human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity is a
serious blight on the members of the United Nations. Even when Israel attacked
unarmed civilians in open waters, the United Nations Security Council could
only issue a presidential statement which did not even condemn Israel for its
Deputy Minister Ebrahim’s comments today are the clearest indication that South
Africa’s patience with the Israeli regime is running out. As President
Zuma indicated in a radio interview yesterday that if any other country had
undertaken action like the attack on the aid flotilla except for Israel it
would be regarded as a pariah. We call on local people of Jewish faith not to
allow the South African Zionist Federation to speak on their behalf, by
attempting to obscure the truth with outright lies and hopeful fables. No
excuses, no lies, no attempts at obscuring the truth will fool the people of
We are appreciative of the actions of our government over the past four days in
expressing condemnation of Israel, issuing the Israeli ambassador with a
demarche, recalling our ambassador from Israel, and the genuine concern and
comfort they have extended to both Khadija Davids and her family.
Nevertheless, as appreciative as we are, we still remain committed in calling
on our government to:
Expel the Israeli ambassador from South Africa;
Break all diplomatic ties with Israel;
Cut all economic and trade ties with Israel, in
response to the call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions from over 200
Shut down Mossad and Shin Bet operations and
terminating the business dealings of El Al Airlines in South Africa;
Actively promote an academic boycott of Israel by
ensuring that all academic links with Israel by our tertiary institutions
and research organisations are severed immediately;
Prosecute all South African citizens who serve in the
Israeli armed forces, as is required by the Regulation of Foreign Military
Assistance Act, and;
Ensure that Israeli war criminals will be prosecuted if
they enter South Africa – as is South Africa’s obligation under the Rome
South Africans will not be fooled by the lies that are now being told by the
South African Zionist Federation on behalf of the Israeli apartheid state and
on behalf of the Israeli military which was responsible for the heinous crimes
on Monday. As a country that has experienced the Sharpeville, June 16th,
Langa, and many other apartheid massacres, we have heard all these lies and
guilt-soothing excuses – heavily armed soldiers fearing for their lives from
activists wielding knives, or stones, or slings, etc. We did not believe
the apartheid regime then; South Africans will not believe these recycled lies
We demand that the Egyptian government keeps the Rafah Crossing open
indefinitely to allow free access to and the Gaza strip.
We commit ourselves to mobilise our trade union members to organise active
campaigns to isolate Israel by refusing to handle goods to and from Israel. In
this regard, we salute the workers of the South African Transport and Allied
Workers Union who today decided that, in the light of Israeli piracy, they will
not allow any Israeli ship to unload goods at South African ports.
Activities around the country will continue in protest against Israel and its
murderous actions. A mass protest rally will take place in Soweto on Saturday
at the well-known protest venue, Uncle Tom’s Hall and the campaign to deepen
the South African boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel
will be intensified.
COSATU South African Council of Churches
South African Communist Party
Palestine Solidarity Committee
Palestine Solidarity Group
Palestine Solidarity Alliance
South African Municipal Workers’ Union
Media Review Network
Muslim Judicial Council
Muslim Youth Movement
Open Shuhada Street
South African Municipal Workers Union declares, every municipality an apartheid-Israel-free zone!
By the South African Municipal Workers Union
June 4, 2010 -- At its central executive committee (CEC) meeting Friday, SAMWU unanimously endorsed a motion to immediately work towards every municipality in South Africa to become an Apartheid Israel free zone.
As part of the global Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS) SAMWU has agreed to engage every single municipality to ensure that there are no commercial, academic, cultural, sporting or other linkages whatsoever with the Israeli regime. Every SAMWU branch will immediately approach municipal and water authorities to become part of the BDS campaign, and to publicly declare their solidarity with the Palestinian people.
This decision was taken in response to the appalling actions of the Israeli regime against the Palestinian people, and especially the recent military intervention against the peace flotilla that aimed to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged people of Gaza.
The SAMWU CEC congratulated the African National Congress government for exercising diplomatic pressure on the Israeli regime but urged the government to take further steps to isolate the regime until there is a genuine independent democratic state for all the people of Palestine.
SAMWU pledged its active support to the Coalition for a Free Palestine (CFP), and also congratulated its sister union, the South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (SATAWU), for refusing to handle Israeli goods at the ports.
Finally the CEC urged all unions and civil society organisations to join in this crucial campaign, to take whatever action they can to further isolate Israeli Apartheid, and to be a positive part of the solution to the terrible humanitarian catastrophe that faces the Palestinian people.
For further comment contact Steve Faulkner, SAMWU’s International and Equality Officer on 0828175455.
South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union calls for escalation of union boycotts of Israeli goods
By Zenzo Mahlangu, SATAWU general secretary
June 3, 2010 -- The South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (SATAWU)
has condemned the attack on aid ships launched by the Israeli state. This last
act of Israeli state sponsored murder left nine people dead and many others
attack which took place in international waters is nothing less than an act of
international piracy. The
ships were carrying aid to the beleaguered peoples of in Gaza. This attack and
Israel’s continued closure of the border has worsened the appalling conditions
that those who live in Gaza are forced to endure.
salutes the Swedish dock workers for their blockade of all Israeli ships.
union calls for an escalation of the boycott of Israeli goods and call upon our
fellow trade unionists not to handle them.
call upon our members not to allow any Israeli ship to dock or unload in any
South African port.
welcoming the recall of the South African ambassador to Israel we demand that
our government now cut all diplomatic ties with this murderous regime.
welcome the worldwide condemnation of this act of piracy but note with alarm
the failure of the US government once again to take decisive action
against Israel. We
condemn and reject their call for an internal enquiry into the events and call
upon the US government to take this opportunity to reverse its support
for Israel all other repressive regimes in the Middle East.
reaffirm our support for Palestinian national sovereignty and demand the
immediate withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territory.
Australia: CFMEU speaks out in favour of boycotts, divestment and sanctions
Andrew Ferguson, the NSW secretary of the Construction, Forestry,
Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU) addresses the Sydney Gaza solidarity rally on June 5, 2010, and talks of growing support from Australian trade unions for the boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaign. He is introduced by Pip Hinman of the Stop The
Australia: South Coast Labour Council backs Israel boycott
June 3, 2010 -- The South Coast Labour Council has backed unions, including the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), calling for a boycott of products and goods produced by Israel in illegal settlements of occupied Palestinian territories and will be urging the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and all trades and labour councils to follow suit. The South Coast Labour Council has also endorsed the rally in Wollongong this Saturday [June 5] to protest the murder of activists forming part of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.
South Coast Labour Council secretary, Arthur Rorris, said:
“We need to call this for what it is, murder on the high seas.
“Now is the time for a strong concerted effort on the part of the international community to let the Israeli leadership know that they have completely isolated themselves with their ongoing persecution and suppression of the Palestinian people.
“A boycott of Israeli goods produced in the illegal settlements is a good way for the international community to send a strong message to the Israeli leadership that humanity will not turn a blind eye to the injustice that is being inflicted on the Palestinian people.
“South Coast unions have reaffirmed the South Coast Labour Council’s long-standing policy supporting the creation of a permanent and secure Palestinian state as a necessary condition for longer term ‘peace with justice’ in the region.
“In Wollongong an urgent protest will be held on Saturday to give our community an opportunity to peacefully express their anger and send a message to Israel’s leaders."
When: 12 noon, Saturday, June 5, 2010.
Where: Outside Telstra Building , cnr Kembla & Crown streets.
Speakers: Turkish & Palestinian community, No War Group, unions and community reps.
Australian Services Union NSW and ACT branch supports BDS campaign
ASU NSW and ACT Branch executive resolution
June 4, 2010 -- This Executive condemns violence in all its
forms. We also condemn racism, including anti-Semitism and discrimination
against individuals or people because of their race or religion. We also
believe in the importance of international law and that all countries should
abide by and uphold international law to ensure the human rights of all peoples
are protected and not abused or undermined.
We believe that Israel
have the right to exist as states within the borders of the 1967 UN resolution
and that both states should have the right to security within their borders.
We have heard the report from the secretary on the
current situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Gaza. We express our deep
concern at the Israeli government’s actions which contravene
international law, violate the human rights of Palestinians and work against
the securing of a long-term peace.
We condemn the building of illegal
settlements and a wall that goes beyond the 1967 borders. We also condemn the
use of checkpoints within the occupied territories which humiliate and severely
disrupt the economic and day to day life of Palestinians. The situation for
Palestinian refugees is unacceptable and we support their right of return or
Finally, we condemn the siege on Gaza
which is having extremely serious humanitarian consequences for the 1.5 million
people living in the Gaza Strip.
As we believe that international law should be upheld,
we resolve to support consumer boycotts of products made in the illegal
settlements, as well as consumer boycotts of companies who assist in, or profit
from, the occupation of Palestinian territories. In addition, we resolve to
review our investments and divest from such companies. We believe that it is
immoral for companies to profit from the violation of international law and
that no support, including economic support, should be given to the illegal
We resolve to continue to participate in these
boycotts and our divestment under the banner of the international BDS movement
abides by international law as detailed above.
Labor for Palestine (USA) condemns flotilla massacre, supports worker action to boycott Israel
“Gaza today has become the test of our universal morality and our
common humanity. During the South African anti-apartheid struggle, the
world was inspired by the brave and principled actions of dockworkers
unions who refused to handle South African cargo, contributing
significantly to the ultimate fall of apartheid. Today, we call on you,
dockworkers unions of the world, to do the same against Israel’s
occupation and apartheid. This is the most effective form of solidarity
to end injustice and uphold universal human rights.” – Palestinian
Trade Union Movement Calls on International Dockworkers Unions to Block
Loading/Offloading Israeli Ships Until Israel Complies Fully with
International Law and Ends its Illegal Siege of Gaza, June 7, 2010
As trade unionists in the United States, we join with labor bodies
around the world to condemn Israel’s May 31 armed assault on the Gaza
To date, these include the South African Congress of Trade Unions;
National Union of Mineworkers (South Africa), Irish Congress Of Trade
Unions; Maritime Union of Australia; New Zealand Council of Trade
Unions; International Dockworkers Council; Confederation of
Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (Turkey); GSEE (Greek TUC); ADEDY (Greek
public sector union federation); Trades Union International of Workers
in the Building, Wood, Building Materials and Allied Industries;
International Federation of Journalists; World Federation of Trade
Unions; International Trade Union Confederation; International Transport
Workers’ Federation; Public Services International; Unite (U.K.);
Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Canadian Union of Public Employees;
Education International; and US Labor Against the War.
Notwithstanding Israeli propaganda — abetted by the corporate media —
the Flotilla Massacre was a premeditated act of state terrorism.
Taking place in international waters under cover of darkness, it
targeted 750 unarmed volunteers from 40 countries seeking to relieve the
humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s illegal and immoral collective
punishment against the 1.5 million people in Gaza. This criminal assault
killed and wounded scores of aid workers, while abducting, jailing and
deporting hundreds of survivors.
This crime against humanity only symbolizes a regime rooted in more
than six decades of piracy, ethnic cleansing, racism, and apartheid
against Palestinians and other indigenous people of the region.
Most immediately, it is a direct extension of the 2008/2009 Gaza
massacre that killed 1400 people, most of them civilians, which has been
condemned by the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and
other human rights organizations, including those that are Israeli.
That Israel’s crimes nonetheless continue unabated is due entirely
to support from its international sponsors. In the past ten years alone,
the US government — with overwhelming bipartisan support — has given
Israel $17 billion in military aid; over the next decade, it will give
another $30 billion.
Thus, this attack, like Israel’s entire war on Palestine, was carried
out with US-supplied naval vessels, Apache helicopters and other
weapons. Once again, through its not-so-silent complicity, the Obama
administration is letting Israel get away with murder.
Workers in this country pay a staggering human and financial price
for US-Israeli war and occupation from Palestine to Afghanistan, Iraq,
Pakistan and Iran.
Yet, top US labor officials — often without the knowledge or consent
of union members — collaborate with the Histadrut, the segregated
Zionist labor federation that defends every attack on Palestinian
rights, including the Flotilla Massacre. These same leaders invest
billions from our union pension and retirement funds in State of Israel
US labor officials’ policies directly violate the Boycott, Divestment
and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel, initiated in
2005 by Palestinian civil society — including its entire labor movement.
Inspired by the international boycott that helped topple apartheid
South Africa, the campaign demands Palestinian self-determination,
including an end to Israeli military occupation, the right of refugees
to return, and equal rights for all throughout historic Palestine.
BDS has been endorsed by labor bodies around the world, including the
trade union congresses of South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and the UK,
and labor bodies in Australia, France, Canada, Norway, Catalunya, and
Just one day before the Gaza Flotilla Massacre, the University and
College Union (UK) voted to “sever all relations with Histadrut, and to
urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise.”
South African workers play a leading role in the BDS movement because
they remember that Israel was apartheid South Africa’s closest ally,
and they agree with the observation of numerous South African freedom
fighters that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is “worse than
In February 2009, South African and Australian dockworkers refused to
handle Israeli goods and the South African Congress of Trade Unions
(COSATU) “call[ed] on other workers and unions to . . . do all that is
necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israel until
Palestine is free.”
In response to the Gaza Flotilla Massacre, the Swedish Port Workers
Union has announced it will blockade Israeli ships and cargo from June
15-24. The South African dockers (SAWATU) have “salute[d] the Swedish
dock workers for their blockade of all Israeli ships” and “call[ed] for
an escalation of the boycott of Israeli goods and call upon our fellow
trade unionists not to handle them.”
Now, the entire Palestinian trade union movement, “calls on
dockworkers’ unions worldwide to block Israeli maritime trade in
response to Israel’s massacre of humanitarian relief workers and
activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla, until Israel complies with
international law and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza.”
Israel deliberately carried out the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Massacre in
order to silence opposition to its strangulation of Gaza. But just as
the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre and the 1976 Soweto Massacre spelled the
ultimate doom of South African apartheid, Israel’s attack has already
had the opposite effect.
New waves of volunteers are coming forward to break the siege, which
is already beginning to crack. The BDS movement is exploding. Already,
it is clear that the Flotilla martyrs did not die in vain.
Just as labor solidarity played a critical role in toppling South
African apartheid, it now has the potential to cripple Israeli
apartheid. Therefore, we urge trade unionists in the US to call on our
unions, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to condemn the Gaza Flotilla
Massacre and support the international labor BDS campaign to:
1. End US military and economic aid for, and ties with, Israel.
2. Divest from State of Israel Bonds.
3. Refuse to handle Israeli goods and cargo.
4. Break ties with all Israeli state institutions, including the
UCU conference also passes motion in support of Palestinian academic trade unionists.
LONDON – Britain’s largest trade union for academics and academic-related staff in higher education voted to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and sever ties with the Histadrut, at its annual conference in Manchester on Sunday.
The University and College Union (UCU), which has around 120,000 members, voted to support a motion to sever all relations with the Histadrut and to urge other trade unions and bodies to follow suit. The union also rejected a motion condemning the UCU for inviting a South African trade unionist charged with inciting hatred against the Jewish community to speak at a union event last year.
The initiator of the motion, pro-Palestinian activist and Brighton University lecturer Tom Hickey, said that the Histadrut had supported “the Israeli assault on civilians in Gaza” in January 2009, and “did not deserve the name of a trade union organization.”
An amendment to this motion, proposed by an Academic Friends of Israel member, sought to “form a committee which represents all views within UCU to review relations with the Histadrut” and report back in a year. However, the amendment was resoundingly defeated.
“I am very disappointed that my amendment, which would have ensured a comprehensive review of the links with the Histadrut, was defeated, but since congress has been ‘ethnically cleaned’ in recent years of delegates opposed to boycotts, it was to be expected,” Academic Friends of Israel director Ronnie Fraser said.
The boycott motion invokes a “call from the Palestinian Boycott National Committee” for “an isolation of Israel while it continues to act in breach of international law” and calls to “campaign actively” against Israel’s trade agreement with the European Union – the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
The union also passed a motion, raised by its National Executive Committee, to give practical support for Palestinian academic trade unionists. The motion condemns the failure of the international community to confront the Israeli government “over the humanitarian disaster it is continuing to perpetrate in Gaza, and the continued development of illegal settlements in the West Bank.”
As a result, the union will work closely with the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees and other organizations that support a boycott of Israel. This includes the Scottish Trade Union Congress, which at its annual conference in April voted to reaffirm its support of the BDS campaign and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), a major player in the BDS campaign and advocate of a one-state solution.
In December, the UCU invited Bongani Masuku, international secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), to a forum to discuss the BDS campaign against Israel.
In the weeks prior to his invitation, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) found Masuku guilty of using inflammatory, threatening and insulting statements against the South African Jewish community, following threats he issued against Jewish businesses and supporters of Israel, and his pronouncements that Jews who supported Israel must leave the country.
Asked at the time whether it was acceptable for the UCU to give Masuku a platform, the union said the sources were “not credible,” suggesting the allegations were unsubstantiated.
“We don’t comment on stuff doing the rounds on the Internet and in the blogosphere, and never will,” a UCU spokesman told The Jerusalem Post at the time.
Reporting from the conference, anti-Israel activist Mike Cushman said, “[We] squashed Zionist smears on COSATU representative Bongani Masoko. The Zionists tried to... attack Bongani and failed miserably.”
Cushman, a UCU member from the London School of Economics and a leading supporter of an Israel boycott, has previously sailed to Gaza and met with Hamas. He had applied for a place on the flotilla that went to Gaza, but did not make the final cut.
He said the union would also debate an emergency motion on Monday’s flotilla raid, referring to it as “Israeli piracy and murder.”
“We will call for an end to the moves to limit universal jurisdiction so that Israeli ministers, generals and admirals would still not be able to travel freely without answering for their crimes,” Cushman said.
Another motion committed the UCU to starting the investigatory process associated with imposing a boycott on the Ariel University Center.
“By reaffirming its divisive boycott policies, it is clear that [the UCU] BDS campaign’s first target is severing links with the Histadrut, which the boycotters see as a close ally of the Israeli government,” the Academic Friends of Israel’s Fraser said.
“We can only hope that any meetings the Histadrut will have with the TUC [the UK’s major trade union] over the next few months will have a positive outcome, and the TUC will then be able to reaffirm its links with the Histadrut when it reports to its annual congress in September,” he added.
“The UCU also approved resolutions to start their process to boycott Ariel University College and also to ensure that any action taken will be within the constraints of the law,” Fraser continued. “How they propose to implement a boycott and remain within the law is not clear, as the union legal advice they received two years ago... clearly stated that any boycott of Israeli academics was discriminatory.”
Meanwhile, Ramallah-based campaign group the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel expressed its “profound appreciation for the courageous positions in support of Palestinian rights” taken by UCU.
“The UCU has again firmly and decisively established its unwavering commitment to the Palestinian civil society’s campaign for BDS against Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law and recognizes the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” the group said in a statement on its Web site.
“The UCU has today confirmed its established position that it is legitimate to denounce Israel’s oppressive policies and to hold the state and its complicit institutions accountable for human rights abuses, war crimes and ethnic cleansing,” it added.
Other UK unions and federations have voted to support the BDS campaign against Israel as well. In April, both the Scottish Trade Union Congress and Irish Congress of Trade Unions reaffirmed their commitment to the campaign. In September, the British TUC launched a campaign with the PSC to implement a boycott of Israel’s products and services as a first step toward a more comprehensive boycott campaign.
Britain's largest union,
Unite, has unanimously passed a motion to boycott Israeli companies at
its first policy conference in Manchester on Wednesday.
The motion, which passed unanimously, called the union "to vigorously
promote a policy of divestment from Israeli companies", while a boycott
of Israeli goods and services will be "similar to the boycott of South
African goods during the era of apartheid".
Reflecting the University and College Union's call at their
Manchester conference earlier in the week, Unite will similarly host a
"Palestine conference" to support trade union action against Israel.
But at odds with the UCU's call to sever links with Israel's trade
union movement Histadrut, Unite delegates voted to keep solidarity
links. Stephen Scott, director of Trade Union Friends of Israel, said
that indicates a split within the pro-boycott movement, many of whom
realise such a call "is all very dangerous stuff.
"It would be huge for another trade union movement to expel them even
when they are a democratic organisation and pass all the criteria of
being a member of the international trade unions."
Nevertheless, Mr Scott added: "All round, you now have a major player
supporting the boycott and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and
there is no resistance."
On Friday there was one of the most significant events yet in
Palestinian solidarity work in Ireland. The Irish Congress of Trade
Unions held a conference on Palestine/Israel and on how to build
solidarity links. It was reported
in the media and, in a nutshell, it was a very successful
conference – one that will lay the basis of future union campaigning on
Palestine. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the
implementation of the 2009 ICTU resolution which called for a
comprehensive boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel
main success lay in it being held the way it was – with senior leaders
from all major Irish unions present, and the fact it took place in
Dublin Castle, a venue which was donated by the Irish Department of
Foreign Affairs for the event. All of this signalled the seriousness
with which this boycott campaign is held by ICTU and associated unions
and their determination to place it centre stage. This display of unity
was no mean feat. After 20 years of partnership arrangements with the
government, Irish unions are in turmoil. The recent economic collapse
has led to the government and private sector implementing brutal wage
cuts, recruitment freezes and job losses. While there is considerable
disagreements among union leaders on how to respond to this attack on
working people, there were no serious disagreements in Dublin Castle on
Friday – Palestine is clearly an issue on which Irish trade unionists
The morning session was opened by Jack O’Connor,
president of ICTU, followed by Micheál Martin, our minister of Foreign
Affairs. While Martin expressed (very politely) his disagreement with
boycott, he did say that he also opposed upgrading Israel’s relationship
with the EU. This of course raises Ireland’s position with regard to
Israel acceding to the OECD, with many speakers saying that the trade
unions should use their position to persuade our government to veto
Israeli membership of the OECD.
The highlight of the morning
session was Patricia McKeown, previous president of ICTU. In her speech
she outline the reasons for boycotting Israel, talked of the ICTU trip
to Palestine and sharply criticised the Histadrut – a speech which
received a standing ovation. We also had Michael Letwin of US Labor for
Palestine (and IJAN) effectively rebutting the US Jewish Labour
Committee who gave an anti-boycott position.
The highlight of the
afternoon was undoubtedly the speech by the Histadrut representative–
Avital Shapira-Shabirow. While the IPSC fully supports the BNC and PGFTU
position of boycotting the Histadrut, I have to admit that we were
delighted with Avital and her speech. She perfectly encapsulated the
arrogance and contempt with which Israelis hold those that they disagree
with. Within the first two minutes she raised the accusation of
anti-Semitism and after that, in a speech that parroted the Israeli
embassy’s statement on the conference, it was all downhill for her,
uphill for us.
In fact she accused ICTU of being linked in with
that notoriously radical group – the Ireland Palestine Solidarity
Campaign – an attack that immediately made us the most popular people in
the room. She then advised everybody to look at our website –
(www.ipsc.ie by the way). I have to admit I felt a bit nervous here,
wondering what we’d be accused of. Well she accused us of… (drumroll)…
supporting the right of return for Palestinians. Seriously, this was her
accusation – supporting the right of return. She then went on to claim
that supporting this basic human right for Palestinians meant supporting
Hamas. This smear might wash in the US but was greeted with incredulity
and frank derision by the conference. It got better – to prove how
justified the Israelis were in massacring Gazans in 2009, she showed a
video of a British general who praised Israel’s conduct – a general who
as part of his credentials proudly boasted of having served in Northern
Ireland. This to a room, about a third of whom came from the North. You
couldn’t make it up.
The Histadrut was followed by Omar
Barghouti of PACBI and Raed Sadeq of the Democracy and Worker’s Right
Center in Palestine, both of whom spoke effectively about boycott, and
shredded the Histadrut argument that they are ‘the best friend of the
Palestinian people’. While it was a shame that all the international
trade union representatives from PGFTU, COSATU, Scottish TUC and TUC
couldn’t come as a result of the volcano (and an aside – why is there no
conspiracy theorising about the Icelandic volcano yet – don’t these
people care any more?), the Palestinian speakers who made it were very
happy with the conference. When I was speaking at one stage to Raed
Sadeq there were literally tears of joy in his eyes because of the level
of solidarity for Palestine expressed in the conference. The task of
course is to move beyond expressing solidarity to practicing it, and
from what I saw yesterday, there is a serious intention in ICTU to do
The real value of the conference lay in the networking and
liaising outside the conference room. The IPSC line is that unions
should first and foremost inform and divest - inform their members of
the boycott line, and divest from Israeli companies, CRH and Veolia. The
trade unionists received this message very positively, and it is our
intention to follow up on this. Everyone who made this conference happen
– especially Trade Union Friends of Palestine who helped drive the
process – deserves the highest praise. It's rare that we can be so
unequivocally positive about something when talking about Palestine, but
this conference has helped move Palestine solidarity to a new level in
Protesters take to the streets in
Israel's bloody attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on 31 May killing at
least nine and injuring dozens of activists carrying humanitarian aid
to the blockaded Gaza Strip, has already intensified global actions for
boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it respects
international law and human rights, including endorsement by major
trade unions in several countries.
The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was on an honorable, peaceful mission in
solidarity with the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, challenging
the Israeli-imposed blockade that has deprived them of basic necessities
and the ability to travel outside their densely populated enclave for
In response to the attack, civil society movements around the world
organized protests in dozens of cities. In the Arab world, 285 civil
society organizations united around a statement condemning the crime
committed against the relief convoy, demanding an end to the blockade
and the turning over of Israeli war criminals to international justice.
In Palestine, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National
Committee (BNC) declared 5 June 2010 an emergency Global BDS Day of
Action, the 43rd anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the
West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
The BNC called for increased pressure on governments to start
implementing trade sanctions and arms embargoes, and asking trade unions
to refuse to handle Israeli goods. The Swedish Port Workers Union
decided to blockade all Israeli ships and cargo to and from Israel
effective from midnight 15 June to 24 June. The union's chairman Bjorn
Borg told media that it is unclear how many vessels would be affected,
but that the most frequent cargos coming from Israel were fruit, while
those going to Israel were often industrial products from Sweden.
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) also
responded immediately. The union appealed for "an escalation of the
boycott of Israeli goods and call[ed] upon our fellow trade unionists
not to handle them." And, citing the lead of Swedish dockworkers, called
on its own members "not to allow any Israeli ship to dock or unload in
any South African port."
Also in South Africa, the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU)
decided, by a unanimous vote of its Central Executive Committee on 4
June, to "immediately work towards" making every municipality in South
Africa "an Apartheid Israel free zone" by ensuring "that there are no
commercial, academic, cultural, sporting or other linkages whatsoever
with the Israeli regime." ("SAMWU
Declares, Every Municipality an Apartheid Israel Free Zone!," 4
June 2010). UNITE the largest union in the United Kingdom voted
unanimously at its conference in Manchester "to vigorously promote a
policy of divestment from Israeli companies" and promote boycott of
Israeli goods and services "similar to the boycott of South African
goods during the era of apartheid" ("Unite
votes to boycott Israel," The Jewish Chronicle, 4 June
The UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories,
Richard Falk, also expressed his support for BDS against Israel for its
Roar Flathen, chairman of the largest Norwegian trade union federation
(LO) responded to Israel's Flotilla massacre by calling on the Norwegian
State Pension Fund, the third largest in the world, to divest from all
Israeli companies, and demanded the recall of the Norwegian ambassador
to Israel. Norwegian pension funds had previously announced divestment
from certain Israeli arms companies.
Following the attacks opinion polls in Norway show a major increase in
support for BDS. The number respondents planning to boycott Israeli
products had increased from 9.5 to 43 percent. Norwegian minister of
education and leader of the Socialist Left Party, Kristin Halvorsen,
called for an international boycott of arms trade with Israel following
Norway's existing policy.
There is also an intensification of the sporting boycott as Swedish
young footballers refused to play in Israel, following a similar
decision of the Turkish youth football team who were in Israel at the
time of the Flotilla attack but canceled their planned match and
The Swedish Football Association (SFA) formally requested that European
soccer's governing body UEFA cancel Sweden's under-21 match, because
they felt morally compelled to do so. However, UEFA did not give in to
the request, because there are no UN sanctions in place. SFA chairman,
Lars-Ake Lagrell, told Swedish radio that he is not worried about
reactions or demonstrations against Israeli players in the return match
fixed at Old Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg on 3 September 2010. But if
precedent is a guide their could be large protests: thousands of Swedes
protested the Davis Cup tennis match against Israel in Malmo in March
The civil society response has been accompanied by an unusually strong
reaction from governments as well, which may indicate that public
pressure is starting to force a change of policy. Denmark, France,
Greece, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Egypt, and South Africa among others
summoned Israeli ambassadors to express their condemnation of the
attack. Due to "unforeseen circumstances," Israel's ambassador to
Ireland postponed a planned appearance before the parliamentary foreign
affairs committee which wanted not only answers about the Israeli
actions, but also to question him about Israel's intentions concerning
the Irish-owned ship the Rachel Corrie which is still en route
to Gaza with humanitarian aid and several prominent peace activists
aboard, including Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire.
Meanwhile, Greece suspended joint military exercises with Israel and
postponed a visit by Israel's air force chief. Turkey withdrew its
ambassador from Tel Aviv, and its deputy minister, Bulent Arinc,
canceled three joint military drills. On 3 June, the energy minister
announced that Turkey had suspended all energy and water projects with
Nicaragua responded to the attack with the suspension of diplomatic
relations with Israel. The country reiterated its support for the
Palestinian people and urged an end to the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
South African president Jacob Zuma said in radio interview that if any
other country had undertaken action like the attack on the aid flotilla
it would be regarded as a pariah. On 3 June, South Africa recalled its
ambassador from Israel to demonstrate its strongest condemnation of the
All these actions indicate growing support for the sentiment expressed
by Scottish writer Iain Banks who emphasized the need for academic and
cultural boycott of Israel. Writing in The Guardian the
renowned science fiction author argued that the best way for
international artists, writers and academics to "convince Israel of its
moral degradation and ethical isolation" is "simply by having nothing
more to do with this outlaw state."
Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in
Following the bloody attack on the Freedom
Flotilla, a survey shows that 40% of Norwegians want Israeli products to
According to the survey conducted by the InFact Institute and
published Wednesday, 9.5 percent of Norwegians are already boycotting
Israeli products, AFP reported.
The news comes a day after the Norwegian Health Minister and leader
of the country's Socialist party, Kristin Halvorsen, called on the
international community to ban arms trade with Israel.
On Monday, Norway summoned the Israeli ambassador to Oslo and
slammed Israel's deadly attack on the Freedom Flotilla as an
unacceptable act. Norway has also called for an immediate and
independent international inquiry.
Three Norwegians were among the international activists in the
flotilla and are now held in custody by Israel.
The Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which was carrying food and medical
supplies to Gaza, came under fire early Monday morning by Israeli naval
forces in international waters more than 150km off the coast of Gaza.
Twenty international activists are reported to have been killed and
50 others injured in the incident.
13, 2010 02:20
by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
Responding to calls by the Palestinian
Workers Union and other calls by different workers unions and
organizations around the world, the Norwegian Ports Union decided to
join its Swedish counterpart in boycotting all Israeli ships starting on
workers will not be loading or unloading Israeli ships docking in their
The decision came coherent with the stances of ports workers, while
polls in Norway revealed that nearly half of the Norwegians support this
The Port Workers Union in Norway said that the boycott would be for two
weeks, while the Swedish boycott would continue until June 24.
The Palestinian Workers Union voiced appeals to Arab, regional and
international workers union to take serious stances against the Israeli
violations, and its deadly attack against the Freedom Flotilla leading
to dozens of casualties among nonviolent international activists
transporting aid supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip.
Furthermore, workers unions in South Africa, which is an affiliate with
the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), also joined the
calls for boycotting Israel but, so far, did not declare an actual
boycott of Israel.
Workers Unions in Palestine welcomed the stances of Norwegian, Swedish,
Greek, British, Canadian and South African unions in rejection and
denouncing the Israeli attack against the Palestinians and the
activists, and the ongoing illegal Israeli siege on Gaza.