2016 witnessed impressive gains for BDS.

Dear supporter of Palestinian rights,

We in the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the widest coalition of Palestinian organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement, recently took some time to take stock the BDS movement’s most important moments during 2016. You can can read our thoughts in our new blog post where we explain how despite the pain, 2016 witnessed impressive gains for BDS.

There are eight really significant signs that the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality took important steps forward during 2016:

  1. Three more multinationals, Orange, CRH and G4S were compelled under BDS pressure to end involvement in illegal Israeli projects, indicating a start of a domino effect.
  2. Israel’s global legal war on BDS suffered fatal setbacks after the EU upheld the right to boycott Israel under freedom of speech.
  3. Israeli Apartheid Free Zones or settlement-free zones were declared by dozens of municipal councils across Europe.
  4. Israel’s global isolation intensified as the logic of appeasing its regime of oppression started to give way to the logic of sustained international pressure, including at the UN.

    Can you help us make sure that we achieve even more during 2017? 

  5. More mainstream churches, from the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) to the United Methodist Church in the US, adopted BDS-related measures in support of Palestinian human rights.
  6. Our BDS campaign against apartheid profiteer Hewlett Packard (HP) went viral globally. There were actions and events in more than 100 cities as part of our recent week of action.
  7. BDS reached the Oscars and the Olympics, as the academic and cultural boycott of Israel spread even further among student unions, academics, artists and writers, especially in the global South.
  8. International trade unions intensified support for BDS measures in solidarity with the Palestinian people and Palestinian workers.

You can read more about all of the things we achieved together during 2016 at our blog post.

Since we published our blog post, it has emerged that the Israeli embassy in the UK has been working to smear and undermine politicians and civil society leaders that support Palestinian rights. A main theme in the subversive efforts of Israel’s lobby, it is now confirmed, is targeting BDS and measures aimed at holding Israel accountable for its oppression of Palestinians.

Recognizing the strategic impact of the BDS movement in the struggle for Palestinian rights, Israel is pouring tens of millions of dollars into its war of propaganda, legal attacks, and defamation tactics.

We can’t compete with Israel financially. But the impressive things our movement has achieved show that we don’t have to.

In recent years, public donations have allowed us to launch a new website for the BDS movement, enlarge our small staff team, and successfully expand BDS activism in Latin America and the Arab world.

Kind regards,
Palestinian BDS National Committee

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society that leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Visit www.bdsmovement.net and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


B’Tselem on Paris Conference: the occupation will not end without international action

On the occasion of the conference being held in Paris on Sunday, 15 January 2017, B’Tselem reiterates its position that the international community must act to protect human rights and bring about an end to the occupation, which is a fundamental violation of human rights.

In this context, B’Tselem welcomes the broadest international adherence to Article 5 of recent Security Council Resolution 2334 to distinguish between Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 and the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel.

While B’Tselem does not take a position on any specific political outcome for ending the occupation, we welcome a human rights based future, one that will guarantee justice and liberty for all people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. There are different paths to realize this future, but the continuation of occupation is not one of them. Israelis and Palestinians will one day end the occupation – but this will not happen without decisive international action.

Source: B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – Press Release 

An Excellent Recent Paper on False Anti-Semitism

Brian McIntosh drew our attention to an excellent paper written by Professor Emeritus at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Larry Haiven, on behalf of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), published on their website in December, entitled ANTISEMITISM in context: Its use and abuse.”

Brian comments that
“This paper, published December 1st this year, is a brief yet fairly comprehensive account of how criticism of Israel has falsely been equated with anti-semitism, putting this in Canadian and global context.  It’s a paper that might worthily be shared with political colleagues who have something of an open mind regarding the issue, written by a Jewish activist who is one among many to cling to the claim that Israel should “not in my name” continue to brutally oppress the Palestinians by occupation and settlement expansion, as well as expand the post-second world war cry of “never again” to “never again – for anyone.”

He considers it “an excellent educational tool for those who wish to know about such things, and from a Canadian voice” and commends it to us.

Read the article.

Webinar with Rev. Mitri Raheb, Bethlehem Christmas Lutheran Church

Recommended by Marianna Harris, UNJPPI Co-Chair

I just had the privilege of being part of a webinair with Mitri Raheb from Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.  He tells the story of Christians in Palestine beginning in the 1800’s.  It is very informative.

I urge you to go to Middle East Initiative Webinars – a website of the American United Church of Christ and find the archived version of Mitri’s presentation with charts and photos included.

He ends by saying that the message from Bethlehem this Christmas is that the Christmas story is of the birth of a child under occupation – who had to flee to Egypt as a refugee and that our call is place our hope in that child and not in the Empires which seek to destroy.  That child came to bring hope in a hopeless situation and the Empire cannot steal the hope, faith and love in the heart of Palestinian Christians.

Find an hour somewhere to hear directly from Bethlehem this year.

Blessings in your celebrations.
Marianna Harris, co-chair

Editor’s Note: Composed before Christmas. Posting was delayed until the link to the archived webinar was available.

Iona Community issues new position statement on Israel/Palestine

Independent Catholic News       January 3, 2017

The Iona Community has published a Position Statement on Israel/Palestine. This is a response to the call of Palestinian Christians in the 2009 Kairos Palestine document, and timed to mark the upcoming centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

The Statement makes clear the Iona Community’s challenge to Christian Zionism as ‘a distortion of the Christian faith, in its abuse of scripture to oppress Palestinian people’. It commits the Iona Community to the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as ‘an act of nonviolent solidarity, pursuing equality, freedom, and justice’ undertaken ‘in obedience to Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies whilst resisting evil’. It also calls for an apology from Britain for the 1917 Balfour Declaration and its role in dispossessing Palestinians of their land.

The Position Statement is the outcome of a six-month process of discussion and prayer, led by a working group on Palestine/Israel, and involved consultation amongst Iona Community members and with Palestinian and Jewish friends in Scotland. The process was informed by Hind Khoury, Secretary General of Kairos Palestine in Bethlehem, who addressed a plenary of the Iona Community in October.

The Statement also calls on Churches and Christian denominations in Britain to follow suit and fully endorse Kairos Palestine’s call to boycott Israel.

Leader of the Iona Community, Peter Macdonald said: “In their commitment to justice and peace, many members of the Iona Community have worked in Israel / Palestine. When the Palestinian Christians called for international solidarity in ‘Kairos Palestine’, the Iona Community helped to launch Kairos in Britain. We make clear that a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians is dependent on an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

The Position statement was published in a specially themed edition of the Iona Community magazine ‘Coracle’ focusing on Israel/Palestine, in December 2016.

Read the full statement here: http://www.kairosbritain.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Iona-Community-Position-Statement-on-IsraelPalestine.pdf

Facebook: https://goo.gl/DKjn6B

Respond Faithfully to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Decision

Despite opposition from Indigenous leaders, environmental groups, and community advocates, the government approved the Trans Mountain (Kinder Morgan) pipeline on November 29. In a letter to the church Moderator Jordan Cantwell wrote, “We fail to see how Canada will be able to fulfill its fair share of carbon emission reductions under the [COP 21] Paris Agreement, as the Trans Mountain Pipeline increases emissions.” Take Action today! Ask the Prime Minister how approving the Trans Mountain pipeline will fit with Canada’s commitments to emission reductions and reconciliation.

Urge PayPal to open up to Palestinians!

Support the United Church of Canada & United Church of Christ’s efforts to use economic leverage to end PayPal’s discrimination against Palestinians.

PayPal is especially important for small businesses.  PayPal has refused, so far, to contract with Palestinian businesses and banks in the West Bank or Gaza, where small businesses are crucial to the very limited local economy.  It does, however, work with Israeli banks, allowing businesses located in the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank to benefit from PayPal’s services. Palestinians are unable to establish bank accounts in Israeli banks, and are therefore excluded.

The United Church of Canada’s “Unsettling Goods” campaign and the United Church of Christ’s decisions to use economic leverage (2015 and 2005) encourage members to explore and pursue ways to bring financial pressures to bear to work for peace with justice and an end the Israeli occupation.

For more information, go to: https://goo.gl/wc1BhL