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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Divestment and Sanctions’

Jews Outraged As Canadian Greens Endorse BDS Against Leader’s Recommendation

Monday, August 8th, 2016

Canadian Jewish groups are furious at the Canadian Green Party for passing a resolution supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel over the weekend. The party’s national convention in Ottawa adopted a policy resolution declaring support for the use of BDS targeted at the sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the “ongoing occupation … until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in [Judea and Samaria], and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state.”

The resolution passed over the objection of Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who said she prefers to endorse “action that can work,” and told a workshop meeting about the policy: “I would rather not, as leader, be leading a party that has endorsed BDS.”

“This is a perfectly legitimate movement,” May continued, “There is nothing illegal about it, and within the Charter of Rights of Freedoms. So, I am uncomfortable with the demonization of this movement. But there is for me, no question that there’s a better way to put pressure on Israel, bearing in mind the history of Israel; the fact that it’s, I think, a tactic that won’t work.”

“We need a two-state solution, and the way things are going there will be no Palestine for a two-state solution,” May said. “So it comes to the point where, what’s our best method going forward? And I think tactics like BDS, that make the people and the state of Israel think that they are under assault, and that they have lost allies and friends around the world, is not going to succeed.”

Paul Estrin, who is Jewish and a former President of the Green Party, wrote on Facebook before the vote that “a vote for BDS is a vote by those who seek the delegitimization of Israel, and ultimately seek to have it, and its population, wiped off the map.” Estrin was forced to step down as party president in 2014 over his pro-Israel views.

Another policy resolution that called on the Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund of Canada, passed committee by a comfortable margin, only to be modified later by the party leadership, which removed the J word from it altogether, and turned it into a call on the CRA “to revoke the charitable status of or to refrain from conferring charitable status upon any organization that is complicit in the violation of Canadian or international human rights law.”

Canadian Jewish organizations reacted swiftly and harshly to the pro-BDS resolution. Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, issued a statement saying, “With the Green Party’s support for unfairly singling out the world’s only Jewish state for contempt, it has firmly entrenched itself beyond the fringe of mainstream Canadian politics. Greens have chosen to embrace the policy position of shills for 9/11 conspiracy theories and terror apologists rather than side with the democratic and environmentally-friendly State of Israel. This clearly reflects how out of touch the Green Party has become with Canadian culture and values and it has made itself less relevant after its convention this weekend by voting for the politics of division and demonization.”

“All Canadians should be very concerned by these developments,” Mostyn added. “A political party with representation in Parliament chose to adopt an anti-Semitic policy, contrary to a recent resolution in Parliament condemning BDS as discriminatory. B’nai Brith will continue to expose the bigotry that festers within Green Party ranks.”

The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, issued a statement saying, “We condemn the Green Party’s decision to endorse this outrageous resolution. The BDS movement, which seeks to censor and blacklist Israelis, is fundamentally discriminatory and utterly at odds with Canadian values.” The statement continued: “Green Party leader Elizabeth May was right to oppose this toxic initiative as well as the disturbing assault on JNF, in keeping with her longstanding rejection of BDS.”

JNi.Media

‘Movement for Black Lives’ Pushes BDS, Anti-Semitism in Platform

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

The umbrella organization known as the “Movement for Black Lives” under which more than 50 political groups are operating, has just released its political agenda — a deeply anti-Semitic, pro-BDS document.

The group clearly targets the State of Israel while proclaiming the global unity of “Black” and “Brown” people as it describes far-left planks.

“The US military accounts for over 50 percent of discretionary federal spending, a total of 598.5 Billion dollars spent annually, as compared to 70 billion spent on education, 66 billion spent on healthcare, $63.2 billion spent on housing and 29.1 billion spent on social security and unemployment,” the movement writes in a detailed presentation on its website, under the section called “A Cut in US Military Expenditures and A Reallocation of those Funds to Invest in Domestic Infrastructure and Community Wellbeing.”

This manifesto is part of a list of issues that are placed under the “INVEST-DIVEST” section of the group’s “Platform” on the pulldown menu of the website. It comes just before the section called, “DEMANDS.”

“Approximately 3 billion dollars in US aid is allocated to Israel, a state that practices systematic discrimination and has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for decades,” the section continues.

“Together with aid to Egypt — Israel’s most important regional ally — this figure represents nearly 75 percent of all US aid dollars. As these figures demonstrate, resources and funds needed for reparations and for building a just and equitable society domestically are instead used to wage war against a majority of the world’s communities.

“In 2006, AFRICOM was established by the US government to expand US military presence on the continent under the claim of protecting the region against “terror” and “radical Islam”. In reality, this effort was designed to expand western colonial control over the region, its people and their resources. AFRICOM is a major example of U.S. empire and is a direct threat to global Black liberation.

“The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people. The US requires Israel to use 75 percent of all the military aid it receives to buy US-made arms.

“Consequently, every year billions of dollars are funneled from US taxpayers to hundreds of arms corporations, who then wage lobbying campaigns pushing for even more foreign military aid. “The results of this policy are twofold: it not only diverts much needed funding from domestic education and social programs, but it makes US citizens complicit in the abuses committed by the Israeli government. “Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people. Palestinian homes and land are routinely bulldozed to make way for illegal Israeli settlements.

“Israeli soldiers also regularly arrest and detain Palestinians as young as 4 years old without due process. Everyday, Palestinians are forced to walk through military checkpoints along the US-funded apartheid wall.

“The interlinked systems of white supremacy, imperialism, capitalism and patriarchy shape the violence we face. As oppressed people living in the US, the belly of global empire, we are in a critical position to build the necessary connections for a global liberation movement.

“Until we are able to overturn US imperialism, capitalism and white supremacy, our brothers and sisters around the world will continue to live in chains.

“Our struggle is strengthened by our connections to the resistance of peoples around the world fighting for their liberation. The Black radical tradition has always been rooted in igniting connection across the global south under the recognition that our liberation is intrinsically tied to the liberation of Black and Brown people around the world.

Hana Levi Julian

New Study: Alarming Spike in Campus Anti-Semitism in 2016

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Nearly 100 more incidents of anti-Semitism occurred on campus during the first six months of 2016 compared with the first six months of 2015, according to AMCHA Initiative’s mid-year study released today. In addition, calls for Israel’s elimination on campus tripled, and that expression highly correlated with actions that harm Jewish students.

“The growing problem of campus anti-Semitism is no doubt a serious threat facing the Jewish community, but this disturbing and dangerous spike and the bolder, more brazen, methods of those perpetrating this hate are particularly alarming,” cautioned Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative director and co-founder.

The study, which examined anti-Semitic activity from January to June 2016 on more than 100 public and private colleges and universities with the largest Jewish undergraduate populations, found that 287 anti-Semitic incidents occurred at 64 schools during that time period, reflecting a 45% increase from the 198 incidents reported in the first six months of 2015.

The study also revealed the following disturbing trends:

Suppression of speech approximately doubled from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, 14 incidents that restricted Jewish students’ civil rights by suppressing their speech, blocking their movement or hindering their assembly were found on 12 campuses. These incidents reflect a significant increase from the first half of 2015, in which eight incidents of suppression occurred on seven campuses.

Expression denying Israel’s right to exist nearly tripled from 2015 to 2016 and correlated with actions intended to harm Jewish students. The first half of 2016 saw an almost three-fold increase in the number of campus incidents that contained expression opposing the existence of Israel, a recognized form of anti-Semitism by global leaders such as President Obama, Pope Francis and the prime ministers of Canada, Britain and France and the world’s preeminent scholars of anti-Semitism. There were 43 such incidents in 2016 compared to 15 during the first half of 2015. In fact, expression opposing the existence of Israel highly correlated with conduct that targeted Jewish students for harm.

Divestment resolutions are fueling anti-Semitism. In 2016, the student governments of 10 schools in the study considered anti-Israel divestment resolutions. Of these 10 schools, eight showed the largest increase in anti-Semitism from 2015 to 2016. Conversely, seven of the nine schools in the 2015 study that considered or voted on divestment resolutions showed a marked decrease in anti-Semitic activity in the first half of 2016 when no divestment resolution was considered. The two schools that did not decrease in anti-Semitic activity hosted discussions and votes on divestment.

Anti-Zionism, particularly Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activities, anti-Zionist student groups, and faculty boycotters, remain the strongest predictors of anti-Semitic incidents on campus. Consistent with 2015, this study revealed that anti-Semitism was twice as likely to occur on campuses where BDS was present, eight times more likely to occur on campuses with at least one active anti-Zionist student group such as SJP, and six times more likely to occur on campuses with one or more faculty boycotters. In fact, schools with more faculty boycotters and more BDS activity tended to have more incidents of anti-Semitic activity.

Schools to watch in 2016: the schools with the largest increase from 2015 to 2016 are Columbia University, Vassar College, University of Chicago, NYU, University of Minnesota, University of Massachusetts (Amherst), University of Wisconsin (Madison), University of Florida and the University of Washington.

“Instead of just boycotting Israel, the anti-Zionists are now boycotting Jewish students,” stated Professor Leila Beckwith, AMCHA co-founder and one of the study’s lead researchers. “Sadly, all too often it is not debate but hate. The lines between political discussions on Israeli policy and discrimination toward Jewish students are being blurred. Anti-Zionists are attempting to harm, alienate, and ostracize Jewish students; it is Jewish students’ civil rights that are being trampled. To properly address this rise in anti-Jewish bigotry, universities must adopt a proper definition of contemporary anti-Semitism and use it to educate the campus community about the distinct line between criticism of Israeli policies and discrimination against Jewish people.”

The report concluded with recommendations for university administrators including (1) adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that identifies all forms of anti-Jewish bigotry, including when criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism; (2) allocating resources to educate students and faculty about contemporary forms of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish discrimination; and (3) establishing clear guidelines about free speech protected under the First Amendment and conduct which violates others’ civil rights, including disrupting or shutting down campus events and restricting free speech and right of assembly.

Read full copy of today’s report.

JNi.Media

California Congressman Wants to Kill Contracts for Companies Aiding BDS

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Ca) testified at a hearing of the State Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss AB 2844, legislation authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, that would prevent the state’s public entities from entering into contracts with companies that participate in discriminatory practices as part of a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions policy against Israel.

“This is both a civil rights bill and a foreign policy bill. It is important that the state do all it can to combat discriminatory BDS practices. If adopted, this state law would be in full accord with a 40 year policy of the United States to prohibit the boycott of Israel, and it would help combat a new effort to unfairly demonize an ally of the United States by denying it the opportunity to conduct legitimate commerce, trade and investment with the US and international firms,” said Congressman Sherman.

Congressman Sherman is the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia. He has a 100% rating from the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), as well as from the Humane Society which has awarded him the “Humane Champion” award for five consecutive years. In 2007 Sherman introduced the “Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act,” with regard to large financial entities.

Sherman’s legislative record received a 100% rating from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2011, a 100% rating from the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 2007-2008, a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign in 2009-2010, and a 98% rating from the NAACP in 2009-2010. Sherman has earned a 100% rating from NARAL Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters.

Sherman has been a strong supporter and advocate of the US-Israel relationship, consistently supporting aid to Israel. In 2004, Sherman first introduced the US-Israel Energy Cooperation Act providing grant money to joint ventures between American and Israeli academics and private sector companies that conduct research and develop energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies.

On July 9, 2014, Sherman appeared as a guest commentator on the Al-Jazeera America’s network, where he went after the Qatari rulers who are the owners of Al-Jazeera, criticizing them for funding Hamas. Sherman said, “Every one of those rockets [fired by Hamas into Israeli cities] is a war crime… Of course it’s a war crime committed by Hamas. And of course the owners of this TV network help fund Hamas.”

Sherman and his wife have been members of Valley Beth Shalom, a conservative synagogue in Encino, California, for many years.

David Israel

As US Anthropologists Reject BDS Resolution, Israeli Economy Thriving Despite Boycotts

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

On Tuesday, the 10,000-member American Anthropological Association announced the results of a vote on its proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions: the call to boycott failed. After many who are close to the organization had predicted the measure would pass, it lost by 2,423 to 2,384 votes.

The failure of the boycott proposal came as unexpected relief to people like Ted Gup, a professor of journalism at Emerson College, who wrote on the eve of the vote in The Chronicle of Higher Education that it is “misguided, counterproductive, and sure to damage both the association and the Palestinian cause.” He added that “it also puts at risk any network of scholars by inviting similar future reprisals.” Also, he warned that “the boycott will harm the very people it is intended to help and embolden those whose hardline policies the AAA disdains.” But “beyond all this,” Gup, who is Jewish, noted that “the boycott itself is irreparably flawed and discredited by the historical and contemporary context that produced it.”

It also appears that the boycotts have had no influence at all on Israel’s economy, which today is the fastest growing in OEDC, according to a Bloomberg News report citing a steep increase in foreign investments in Israeli assets, which last year hit a record high of $285.12 billion, “a near-tripling from 2005 when the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was started by a group of Palestinians.”

“We don’t have a problem with foreign investment in Israel — on the contrary,” Yoel Naveh, chief economist at Israel’s finance ministry, told Bloomberg.

According to people from the entire spectrum of the market: money managers, economists and government officials, “Israeli assets are an attractive alternative to weak performers elsewhere.” And even though Israel’s economy has slowed down in 2016, it is still growing faster than the economies of the US and Europe and its interest rate is higher.

Interestingly, Bloomberg also reported that the business community rejects the fabricated accusations against Israel perpetrated by the BDS activists, “that investing in Israeli innovation and natural gas violates Palestinian rights, and that Israel’s misdeeds are so exceptional that they justify singling it out for censure.”

Bloomberg quotes data collected by IVC Research Center which suggests that even with an appreciating shekel, Israeli startups have raised $3.76 billion in 2015 from foreign investors, their highest annual figure in ten years. In 2015 Israeli industrial high-tech exports rose 13% from 2014 to $23.7 billion, and in 2016 Israel’s economy is expected to grow 2.8%, compared with the US (1.8%) and the EU (1.8%).

Or, as the Torah put it, back in 1248 BCE: “But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became.” (Exodus 1:12)

Back to the failed BDS vote at the AAA, there’s a point Ted Gup was making in his thoughtful article which suggests the more Israel makes itself known to the world, the less would anti-Semitic NGOs be able to feed off its flesh. “In the summer of 2015, with the support of a Fulbright, I taught at the University of Haifa, in Israel’s third-largest city and one of its most secular and progressive urban centers,” Gup related. “The university boasts a student population that is one-third Arab. It is common to see student-soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces, rifles slung over their shoulders, checking alongside their Arab classmates the same class announcement boards or discussing homework. Nor is it unusual for heated debates about Israeli policy to arise between Jews and Arabs in the classroom — and even more commonly, between Jews and Jews.”

Then he made a most cogent point, coming as it does from a leftwing perspective: “So how does a learned society like the AAA justify punishing the likes of the University of Haifa or see doing so as an effective message to the Israeli government? Many of my colleagues on the Haifa faculty openly criticize that government, as do their students. A wholesale boycott of academic institutions applies the same indiscriminate standard of punishment that the association says it abhors. The AAA would argue that you don’t bulldoze a house or bomb a block in Gaza because of one attacker. How then do you justify cutting off relations with all Israeli academic institutions based not on actions but on geography?”

JNi.Media

Comprehensive Anti-BDS Campaign Launched at UN

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Over 1500 Anti-BDS activists bridged political, geographic, religious and generational divides to pack the UN General Assembly Hall for an anti-BDS summit hosted on Tuesday by Israel’s Mission to the UN. The event kicked off a larger initiative aimed at consolidating efforts to contend with the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, fittingly entitled “Build Bridges, Not Boycotts”.

The day-long event grew out of a dawning realization that the State of Israel, world Jewish communities, and the numerous groups attempting to mount a response to BDS on their own, must join forces if inroads are to be made against the organization that has been attempting to pressure businesses, artists, and academics to blackball Israel for eleven years.

“YOU are the Iron Dome of the State of Israel,” Danon announced from the podium. “If we stand together, we can do this. One day you will tell your children – I was there when they stopped BDS.”

The call for unity was echoed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a pre-recorded message and reiterated by a roster of keynote and workshop speakers that included Israeli Supreme Court VP Justice Elyakim Rubenstein; World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder; ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow; Son of Hamas author Mosab Hassan Yousef; CEO and vice president of World Jewish Congress Robert Singer and Soda Stream’s Daniel Birnbaum, as well as Frank Luntz; David Suissa; Emily Neilson-Winkler; David Sable; Alan Johnson of Bicom UK; actress Noa Tishby, and founder of Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, Bassam Eid.

“I’m here today to get informed”, said Flo, president of student government at Brooklyn College, “we’ve had some issues on campus”. The 22 year old related the divisive effect that BDS can have on university life, “We have students who get riled up, and students who feel unsafe”.

For many of the students present the highlight – and the hero – of the day was reggae artist Matisyahu. The Jewish American singer had his own run-in with BDS last summer when was abruptly uninvited from Spain’s Sun Splash music festival following his refusal to discuss his views on Israel. After an ensuing uproar where the World Jewish Congress reached out to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the festival apologized, reinstated Matisyahu, and revealed that BDS strong-arming had been behind the decision to drop him.

When Matisyahu finally took the stage in Spain in front of a decidedly unwelcoming crowd, he belted out the song Jerusalem. The performer, who did an encore of Jerusalem at the UN on Tuesday, has since become a vocal anti-BDS activist.

“When you see someone like Matisyahu, who is so much bigger than you, and he’s standing up for what you believe in, it makes you feel like there’s someone behind you. You’re not alone”, said Rambam Mesifta student Naftali, at the UN for the day with friends from his Lawrence, New York high school.

Although so far the teens have so only encountered anti-Semitism on social media, they say are preparing for the day it will become face-to-face, which they consider all but inevitable. The boys are also fans of their host for the day. “I admire Ambassador Danon because he uses his power to take a stand and make a difference, instead of just having power for the sake of it”, explained Eli, another Rambam Mesifta student. Along with the rest of the participants, each of the friends left with a copy of A Guide for Combating Modern Day Anti-Semitism.

After a moving speech by Justice Rubenstein, who closed his remarks by proclaiming Am Yisroel Chai, several attendees were overheard expressing doubt that the BDS situation would ever improve. 62 year old New Yorker Sol was more optimistic. “Don’t give up, even miracles can happen,” he reminded those nearby.

As if to help Sol make his point, not 10 minutes later in the UN General Assembly – not normally the most embracing environment for Israel – 1500 voices could be heard singing the Israeli national anthem, HaTikva.

Stephanie Granot

PayPal Doing the Right Thing, Deleting French BDS Account

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

PayPal on Monday blocked cash transfers to the French account of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) group. According to the Jerusalem Post, users who wanted to give money through the French BDS website’s link to PayPal, received the message: “The recipient is currently unable to receive money.” Eventually, the website deleted its link to PayPal altogether. But PayPal did not state their position regarding the account, saying, “We can’t confirm or deny any limitation of a specific account.”

In 2003, French Jewish parliamentarian Pierre Lellouche, a member of the Republican Party of former President Sarkozy, introduced the so-called Lellouche law, which amended the laws against racism to include discrimination against countries. Since then, the BDS movement is, essentially, illegal in France.

The spokeswoman for PayPal did confirm that “compliance with all local laws is something we take very seriously. PayPal has dedicated significant resources to combat the use of our secure payment platform for illegal activities and works collaboratively with law enforcement agencies around the world to support both the detection of crime and the conviction of criminals.”

She added, “We have 184 million active customer accounts and regularly screen their activities to make sure they respect the laws, and if they don’t, per our user agreement, we then suspend, limit or close them. PayPal encourages anyone who has information about the potential unlawful use of our service to contact us.”

Accordint to the Jerisalem Post, BDS’s PayPal accounts have already been closed in Germany and Austria; earlier this year the French bank BNP Paribas discontinued a BDS account in its subsidiary bank in Gernmany; also this year, Austria’s Erste Group closed down a BDS bank account. Altogether, four BDS bank accounts have been closed this year in Europe.

David Israel

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