DEARBORN — As more people join the movement to liberate the beseiged Palestinian territory of Gaza, the need for more direction in finding focused, practical solutions has increased.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
At the University of Michigan, Dearborn campus--
The student government approves Divestment Resolution against Apartheid Israel
Thursday, 25 February 2010
On the Web at:
University of Michigan - Dearborn Student Government
General Assembly Resolution # 2010-003
Whereas, this wise body has been known to be one of strong moral and social conscience and has in the past supported justice and international law, and
Whereas, U.N General Assembly Resolution 194 resolves that the Holy Places - including Nazareth - religious buildings and sites in Palestine should be protected and free access to them assured, in accordance with existing rights and historical practice, and
Whereas, U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 further resolves that all refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be provided for the destroyed properties of those choosing not to return and for loss of, or damage to property that under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible, and
Whereas, the aforementioned situations prove that Israel clearly and inexcusably is in continued violation of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194, and
Whereas, Israel is further in violation of many related U.N. resolutions, including Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, and 446, and
Whereas, Israel is further in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which calls on all occupying powers to protect the rights and well-being of the occupied population, and
Whereas, the U.N.’s own assessment, the Goldstone Report, found evidence of potential war crimes and crimes against humanity, and
Whereas, University of Michigan Regent policy, as expressed in their meeting of March 16, 1978, states:
“If the Regents shall determine that a particular issue involves serious moral or ethical questions which are of concern to many members of the University community, an advisory committee consisting of members of the University Senate, students, administration and alumni will be appointed to gather information and formulate recommendations for the Regents’ consideration.”; and
Whereas, there are serious moral and ethical questions concerning the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and
Whereas, the University is known to have several million dollars of investment in corporations that sell weapons, goods, and services to Israel—including BAE, Raytheon, Boeing, General Electric, United Technologies, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman, among others–whom in turn uses the weapons, goods, and services inhumanely and
Whereas, any University investments in entities contributing to human rights violations by either Israelis or Palestinians is inappropriate,
THEREFORE be it Resolved, (1) that the University of Michigan-Dearborn Student Government will lead a movement to collect petition signatures calling on the Board of Regents to form such an advisory committee, and
Be it further Resolved, (2) that the University of Michigan-Dearborn Student Government calls on the Board of Regents to create an advisory committee to determine if any University investments are questionable and in need of appropriate corrective actions, and
Be it further Resolved, (3) that on behalf of the students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, we will urge this committee to recommend immediate divestment from companies that are directly involved in the ongoing illegal occupation, because we deem these investments to be profoundly unethical and in direct conflict with the mission of this University.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
By Nick Meyer
The movement was the inspiration for Divestment Week at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, which ran from Monday, February 15 to Thursday, February 18 and was coordinated by the Arab Student Union (ASU).
The week kicked off with a mock checkpoint display in the main hall of the UM-D College of Arts, Sciences and Letters (CASL) Building as two ASU members dressed up as Israeli soldiers alongside signs stating "Stop!" in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
While the members couldn't physically stop students walking by on the way to class, they used the opportunity to inform curious passers-by about the daily hardships Palestinians go through ecause of the disruptive and often humiliating practice of stopping citizens for hours at a time at checkpoints in Palestine.
Photo: Students set up mock check points on campus to protest occupation in the Palestinian territories
"People have been supportive so far," said Mahde Abdallah, Director of Recruitment for ASU. "At first they're like 'What's this all about?' but then we explain it to them and most people sign up our petition right away."
The petition Abdallah spoke of is part of a joint project with University of Michigan-Ann Arbor students and will be presented to the University of Michigan Board of Regents with the stated goal of forming an advisory committee for researching potentially unethical investments by the university.
David Skrbina, a philosophy professor at Michigan-Dearborn, said that the ability to form such a committee is already on the books at the university and usually pertains to specific situations such as the South African apartheid issue and also in 2000 when the university divested from more than $6 million in stocks in tobacco companies.
A potential advisory committee would look into possible divestment from stocks in companies that provide military support for Israel as it continues its occupation of Gaza. Many of the stocks the university holds in such companies are estimated to be valued in millions of dollars according to Skrbina. Israeli weapons-producing companies Skrbina said the university supports from a report obtained last year include Boeing and L3 Communications.
While Skrbina acknowledges that the quest to form such a committee will be an uphill climb because he said Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman has already stated that she is anti-divestment, he added that being persistent and increasing awareness about divestment are of the utmost importance.
"In 1978 after several years of discussion, the university finally caved in and agreed to divest from South African companies," said Skrbina. "Certainly that case and process took several years but it did succeed because students and faculty kept the issue burning in peoples' minds and kept them alive, forcing the university to form a committee and eventually to support divestment."
Skrbina said that evidence suggests that Michigan's decision to divest from South Africa triggered a chain reaction among other universities that was a crucial step in ultimately ending apartheid in that country.
He also said that the Gaza issue might take perhaps even longer because of the influence of "vested interests" that oppose divestment but also said he was confident that the Israeli apartheid structure would eventually be dismantled.
"We're in it for the long run because we know we're in the morally right position and we have the strength of world opinion behind us," he said. "It's only a matter of time before Israeli apartheid is ended."
Other events held during divestment week included movie screenings of the film "Occupation 101" about the conflict and plight of the Gazans, an event hosting members of "Action Gaza," a grassroots initiative to support Palestine, as well as a divestment forum featuring Skrbina, who has helped gain support among UM-Dearborn's faculty.
Another goal of the week was to get a resolution passed by Michigan-Dearborn's student government supporting divestment. Last year, the effort fell short, but a change in leadership on UM-Dearborn's student council had ASU members feeling confident that it would be passed next week for 2010 as it was in 2005 and 2006.
For more information on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, visit www.bdsmovement.net or www.endtheoccupation.org.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Growing scandal at Ann Arbor City Council:
Why did they name a Friend of the Israel Defense Forces as a Human Rights Commissioner?
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Motorola is involved in designing and implementing perimeter surveillance systems around illegal Israeli settlements and military camps in the West Bank. Motorola and its subsidiaries also have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts to supply the Israeli military with telecommunications technology, checkpoint security and control systems. By providing support for the Israeli military, Motorola plays a role in ensuring that settlement expansion will continue, and that the occupation will deepen, in a clear violation of international law.
BAE Systems is the world's third-largest arms producer. Both BAE and its Israeli subsidiary, Rokar, contribute to weaponry used by Israel to attack Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. BAE produces cluster bombs and the F-16 combat aircraft, which were used during the 2008-2009 assault on the Gaza Strip, which killed over 1,400 Palestinians, most of whom were non-combatant civilians.
Northrop Grumman, one of the world's largest weapons manufacturers, provided the Israeli military with many of the parts for the Apache AH64D Longbow Helicopter, which was described by Amnesty International as a piece of "key equipment used by the [Israeli military] in the [December 2008 - January 2009] Gaza bombing campaign." Furthermore, Northrop Grumman is the sole provider of radars for the F-16 combat aircraft. It also assists in producing the Longbow Hellfire 2 missiles, which, as has been documented by many human rights organizations, were widely used against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
L-3 Communications is one of the many large multinational firms aiding in the construction and maintenance of the system of military checkpoints that severely restrict Palestinian freedom of movement in the West Bank and around Gaza. The matrix of checkpoints has been condemned by human rights organizations as a brutally repressive system that violates the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. In addition to being a means of political repression and land annexation, the checkpoints constitute a tool of collective punishment, which is a crime under international law.
Tesco Supermarkets is a large United Kingdom-based international grocery and general merchandising retail chain. It has been the target of social justice activists in the UK for selling produce originating from illegal Israeli settlements, for mislabeling products coming from the settlements as "West Bank," as well as for using an exporter, Carmel-Agrexco, which has been criticized for using slavery-type working conditions in its factories in the occupied West Bank. Tesco's financial support for the illegal Israeli settlements lends them legitimacy and enables their economic growth and physical expansion, while simultaneously inhibiting the development of the Palestinian economy.
Carleton is no stranger to boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activism, and it has a strong precedent to build upon. In 1987, Carleton divested from all companies complicit in the apartheid regime in South Africa. Carleton's president at the time wrote a memorandum, saying, "Carleton University abhors apartheid and will do all it can to show its position on apartheid within its business practices." Given Carleton's past commitment to divesting from apartheid regimes, SAIA is calling on the university to once again place itself on the right side of history by ending its investments in the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.
The South African victory serves as an inspiring model for SAIA's divestment campaign, which is the first Palestine-centered divestment initiative in Canada. Hopes are high that, through a well-planned local campaign, as well as the natural growth of BDS, momentum will pick up at universities across the country and similar initiatives will emerge to form a national movement to cut campus ties with Israeli apartheid.
Specifically, SAIA recommends that:
1. The Carleton University Board of Governors, via the Pension Fund Committee, immediately divest of its stock in BAE Systems, L-3 Communications, Motorola, Northrop Grumman and Tesco
2. Carleton University refrain from investing in other companies involved in violations of international law (for recommended guidelines see Conclusions/Recommendations section of the divestment report)
3. Carleton University work with the entire university community to develop, adopt and implement a broader policy of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) for its Pension Fund and other investments, through a transparent and effective process.
Download the full report: Carleton University Pension Fund: Complicity in Violations of Human Rights and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories [PDF]
Monday, February 8, 2010
"Resolution in Support of Ending U.S. Military Support for Israel"
Approved unanimously by the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission.
See news coverage, below right (From the January-February 2004 ICPJ newsletter) --
The Human Rights Commission urged Ann Arbor City Council to also approve this Resolution.
Click on the Resolution to enlarge it.
"Arms Divestment and Cessation of U.S. Military Aid to Israel"
A resolution of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and its MiddleEast Task Force
Adopted May 13, 2003
As persons of faith who believe in the equal worth and dignity of allpeople, we are distressed that Israelis and Palestinians have become lockedin an escalating cycle of violence. We categorically condemn the taking ofany life, Israeli or Palestinian. We are convinced that only the end of theIsraeli occupation and the establishment of a geographically andeconomically viable independent Palestinian state can bring peace to theMiddle East and achieve the goal of two nation-states -- Israel andPalestine -- living peaceably side-by-side, with equality and security, possibly in a confederation.
We have long been dismayed by threats to the existence of Israel. We areequally dismayed by the continual military occupation and virtual colonization of Palestinian territory by Israeli armed forces and settlers,the human rights abuses against Palestinians, and the destruction of the Palestinian economy. Devastation of the physical and social infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza -- including the forcible eviction from anddemolition of homes -- does not quell terrorism. It engenders more.
Such actions fuel deeper hatred of Israel in surrounding countries, while causing a major humanitarian disaster among Palestinians. And they leave Palestinians continually vulnerable to expulsion from the land in which they have been deeply rooted for generations. U.S. weapons and military funding are being used in these violations of human rights andinternational agreements. Americans of conscience must protest.
We do not have faith that governments alone will take the necessary actions to bring about a change in the Israeli government policies described above. We therefore believe that nonviolent civilian action is needed, aiming tolimit the present intense funding of Israeli military activities.
Accordingly, we will work with those groups who are calling on the governing bodies of our religious institutions, the City of Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan, and our fellow citizens
* to use their influence to encourage the United States government to end its complicity in these violations of human rights by suspending it smilitary aid and arms sales to Israel, and
* to divest themselves from all companies that manufacture or sell arms and other military hardware to Israel, in order to bring about:
* Israel's compliance with United Nations Resolution 242, which calls for "the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in therecent (1967) conflict";
* Israel's compliance with the United Nations Committee Against TortureNov. 2001 Report (paragraph 53), which recommends that Israel's use of "thecrime of torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment orpunishment" must be prevented;
* Israel's cessation of settlement building and expansion, and itsvacating of existing settlements in the Occupied Territories in compliancewith the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states "The Occupying Power shallnot deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." (Article 49, paragraph 6, 1949);
* Israel's acknowledgment of the applicability of United NationsResolution 194 (1948) with respect to the rights of refugees, andacceptance that refugees should either be permitted to return to theirhomes and property or be justly compensated for their losses.
This statement is derived from multiple sources, including severaluniversity divestment petitions; and from members of the Middle East TaskForce of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and thePalestine-Israel Action Group of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting.
"Call for Peace in the Middle East"
by Michigan Peaceworks (formerly called "Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace")--
[This Resolution calls for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel until the Occupation ends and the settlements are dismantled]
Preamble: The Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace recognizes that theconflict in Palestine/Israel is an issue of great concern in our community,around which emotions often outweigh objectivity.
We do not wish to contribute to the discord, but rather to unify people around common goalsof nonviolence and fairness. Our organization formed shortly after 9-11-01 to address issues of peace, civil liberties, and civil rights-particularly how these issues would be affected by the U.S. government military response to the 9-11 attacks. We consider a peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to be an important element in curtailing the cycle of violence worldwide.
Statement: Over the past two years, we have witnessed in grief and anguishthe appalling destruction resulting from the spiral of violence in theMiddle East. Violence will only beget further violence. We condemn in the strongest terms the practices that bring about the deaths of innocent people and the destruction of communities.
Fortunately, there are many who work for peaceful resolution of theconflict. These people and organizations give hope that future generationsof Israelis and Palestinians can live normal, secure lives, in peace witheach other. We support the Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers, including the Bereaved Families for Peace, who call on their fellow citizens torenounce violence. We support the Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve inthe occupied territories. We support those from Israel and other countrieswho work with Palestinians to rebuild destroyed homes. We support the efforts of those states and organizations that have made proposals for a just peace, including the member states of the Arab League, which hascalled for normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for creationof a Palestinian state and a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
In solidarity with all those working for peace in the Middle East, we call for the following:
* An immediate end to the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza,and East Jerusalem;
* An immediate end to the violence on both sides, recognizing violenceas including Occupation, military incursions, and suicide bombings;
* A full evacuation of all settlements with the exception of minornegotiated border adjustments;
* A just settlement for the refugees who have been forced by war toleave homes in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza;
* Establishment of the state of Palestine side by side with the stateof Israel with the boundaries established by UN Resolution 242;
* Social and economic justice and full legal rights for all citizens of both states;
* A major international effort to assist the reconstruction of Palestine;
* An end to U.S. military aid to Israel until the Occupation ends and the settlements are dismantled;
* Negotiations towards arms control and disarmament of weapons of massdestruction for the entire region;
* Recognition of and normalization of relations with Israel by all thecountries of the Middle East.
Adopted by the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace on November 11, 2002
Resolution To Divest, In Principle And Practice, From Israel
by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG)
(Adopted by NLG National Convention 10/24/04)
WHEREAS the Israeli government with its illegal occupation and expansionist program in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip is engaged, and has been engaged in grave human rights violations including but not limited to:
the use of live ammunition on unarmed civilians (including men, women, and children);
massive and disproportionate use of force including the firing of missiles from Apache helicopter gunships against defenseless civilian populations;
illegal mass arrests and institutionalized torture (including men, women, and children); the willful destruction of agricultural land;
the deprivation of water;
forced malnutrition with concomitant health consequences including stillborn deaths and irreversible developmental damage to children;
the mass demolition of homes and confiscation of land;
hostage taking and extra-judicial assassinations;
denial of medical services to the sick and wounded;
the use of human shields (including children);
the targeting of schools, and hospitals;
the building of illegal fortified "Jewish-only" Israeli colonies/settlements on confiscated land connected by "Jewish-only" bypass roads, and the heavily subsidized transfer of hundreds of thousands of its own civilian population into these colonies/settlements;
WHEREAS the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel's Apartheid Wall violates international humanitarian law which governs Israel's administration of the Palestinian territories it has occupied since 1967 as well as the fundamental human rights of the Palestinians;
WHEREAS by virtue of, but not limited to, the Principles of the Nuremberg Charter and Judgment;
The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights;
International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights;
The Geneva Conventions, in particular, but not limited to the 4th Geneva Convention, the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Protocol 1, Additional to the Geneva Conventions, as well as other international covenants and the general humanitarian principles of international law,
these acts constitute war crimes, and in some cases crimes against humanity.
WHEREAS, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, 22 USC sec. 2304, provides that "no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights;"
WHEREAS, the UN General Assembly on October 22, 2003, reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and …. reiterating its opposition to settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories almost unanimously, with the exception of the US, Israel,...
BE IT RESOLVED that the NLG seeks, in principal and practice, to support national and international campaigns to divest from Israel…and (a) support divestment campaigns to make full public disclosure of any and all investments it or other institutions have in Israel and of any and all profits earned from companies invested in Israel, and (b) either immediately divest from those companies, or cause such companies to disinvest from Israel until all of the following conditions are met:
1. Withdraw armed forces;
2. Permit interested refugees to return to their homes and compensate the rest;
4.Vacate all Jewish-only settlement/colonies;
5.Compensate all Palestinian victims.
"University of Sussex students vote to boycott Israeli goods"
November 27, 2009
"Faculty senate in Wisc. passes divestment bill"
"Dearborn student gov't demands divestment"
"The student government at the University's Dearborn campus last week unanimously passed a resolution calling for the University's Board of Regents to vote to divest from Israel."
Reported in the Michigan Daily, at:
"Dearborn student govt. pushes for Israel divestment"
* "The Wayne State University Student Council voted for total divestment from Israel."
Call to divest from Israeli Occupation, by Howard University's faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences
"Prominent call for divestment at Howard"
by: Will Youmans - The Arab American News
17th, March 2007
Activists calling for ending financial support for Israel welcomed a victory at a university in Washington, DC. The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University voted overwhelmingly to call on the university's board of trustees to divest from Israel.
The faculty at this historically Black institution came down with a 25 to 2 vote in favor of divestment, beginning with the identification of university "funds that are being invested in 'offending' companies that are offering material support to Israeli Occupation."
The March 8th call was introduced by David Schwartzman, a biology professor of Jewish origin. He told "The Arab American News," there was not much opposition, except by the college's Dean, who refused to put divestment on the agenda. He plans on introducing a similar resolution to the faculty Senate this spring.
He sponsored the measure in the hope that "these resolutions start spreading around the country and generate action comparable to the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s."
Sunday, February 7, 2010
The four Geneva conventions at the core of international humanitarian law were adopted in 1949 and ratified by 194 countries in the world. These conventions specify conduct that can be found criminally culpable if violated. The first three are specifically applicable to conduct against military personnel who are not combatants (i.e., prisoners of war, medical personnel, wounded soldiers, etc.), and the fourth applies to civilian noncombatants.
Despite Israel's protestations to the contrary, and despite its ratification of the four Geneva Conventions in August of 1949 (with the reservation that Israel would use the Red Shield of David instead of the Red Cross), it has violated these conventions through its 62-year history and continues to violate them to this day.
Below are just a few examples: In 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israel attacked the USS Liberty, killing 34 American sailors and wounding nearly 200 (in violation of the second Geneva Convention). Israel claims that it was a mistake, but there is a plethora of evidence to the contrary; the reason for the attack was to keep the United States from finding out about an ongoing massacre of Egyptian prisoners of war (in violation of the third Geneva Convention).
The first Geneva Convention applies to conduct toward medical transports, medical units, and medical personnel, all of which were targeted and many destroyed during Operation Cast Lead from December 2008 to January 2009. Israel denies that it targeted any of the protected facilities or personnel, but numerous reports show deliberate targeting of them. Israel claims that all of the reports critical of Israel are biased and that it has a legitimate right to self-defense. However, the Geneva Conventions also discuss what legitimate self-defense is and what constitutes illegal and disproportionate force.
The settlements issue
Conduct of an occupation is the subject of the fourth Geneva Convention, in which an occupier may not transfer a civilian population into occupied territory. Some Israel defenders have claimed that settlements in the West Bank are perfectly legal, but the fourth Geneva Convention is clear on that issue. Every single settlement, from the settler "outposts" to the large cities, is illegal according to international law.
With these examples and many others in mind, an attempt to put a resolution in the DFL platform for Minnesota to divest from its Israel bonds to force it to comply with international law was proposed at the DFL Progressive Caucus. The resolution passed unanimously in that caucus.
The strong ties between Israel and the United States, and specifically between Israel and Minnesota, have been given as reasons to reject the resolution. On the contrary, these strong ties are exactly the reasons we should divest from Israel bonds. The money invested in Israel bonds goes directly to furthering the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, by helping to develop the civilian infrastructure in the settlements, by building the separation wall, and by building roads that only the settlers can use. In other words, as investors in an illegal colonization we are violating international law.
Israel is getting messages from all over the world that policies violating international law cannot continue without consequences. These messages are coming mainly in the form of boycott, divestment and sanctions. Specific products and manufacturers that benefit from illegal occupation are boycotted, and universities and institutions are divesting from investments in Israel. We, as Minnesotans, should lead the effort and withdraw our financial support from a regime that violates international laws.
--Sylvia Schwarz, St. Paul, is a member of International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network — Twin Cities (IJAN-TC).
Saturday, February 6, 2010
New campaign to boycott Israel in California, same as the boycotts that helped "bring down the Apartheid Government in South Africa”
The measure was submitted by Sacramento resident Chris Yatooma, who works as the head of fiscal policy for the California Community Colleges chancellor’s office.
“It is the intent of this act to employ the same divestiture and boycott approach used to help bring down the Apartheid Government in South Africa,” the measure states.
Dozens of ballot measures are filed with the attorney general’s office every year, with only a select few actually reaching a ballot. Measures that would require public schools to allow Christmas music, mandatory drug testing for legislators and a measure that would define a fertilized human egg as a person have all been submitted to the attorney general.
The measure would need almost 434,000 valid signatures from registered California voters to qualify for the November ballot.
Under the proposal, divestment guidelines would be reversed if Israel pulls out of the territories seized during the 1967 war, or the Israeli and Palestinian governments “conclude a peace treaty that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state that is recognized by the United States Government."
-- Anthony York in Sacramento