For the past six weeks, Gaza has been in the news as residents have been protesting near the barbed wire fence and free-fire “no-go” zone that traps them under Israel’s siege and blockade of the impoverished territory.
The protests began on March 30, commemorated by Palestinians as “Land Day” annually since 1976, when six unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel (including three women) protesting government confiscation of their lands for Jewish-only settlements in the Arab-majority Galilee area were shot dead by the Israeli army and police, who were not punished.
In Gaza and elsewhere this “Great March of Return” demonstration by all factions and sectors of Palestinian society asserts their international legal right to return to the villages and towns Israel expelled them from in 1948 – lands that for Gazans lie just a few miles away on the other side of the barbed wire, and to which they have been forbidden to return solely because they are not Jewish. The demonstrations are set to culminate on May 15, Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, when Palestinians protest their ongoing dispossession by Israel and the western powers.
In the early hours of March 30, before any demonstrations had started, Israeli soldiers fired a tank shell at two farmers “acting suspiciously” in their fields, blowing one to pieces and injuring the other. Later that day, snipers Israel had placed behind earthworks along the fence with openly-declared shoot-to-kill orders began firing on the unarmed protesters. At least 18 were killed and more than 1400 injured that first day. As of this writing, the death toll stands at over 50, including five children and two journalists. Over 6,000 have been injured, with hundreds suffering devastating injuries caused by exploding bullets that rip through flesh and bone according to Doctors without Borders. No Israelis have been injured.
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) just launched a groundbreaking campaign, calling for the entire University of California (UC) system to divest from Israeli apartheid! Today, SJP students are showing up, uninvited, to the UC Regents Board meeting in Los Angeles to announce the new statewide #UCDivest campaign.
The students are taking this step because, despite student bodies passing resolutions at nearly every school across the UC system calling for the withdrawal of university investments from corporations profiting from Israeli apartheid, administrators have refused to act. The UC Student-Workers Union UAW Local 2865, representing 17,000 teaching assistants, readers, research assistants, and tutors, also voted to support divestment. This campaign pushes UC administrators to implement the principled change that students and workers are standing behind.
Student campaigns like #UCDivest have resulted in more than 35 campuses across the USpassing student council divestment resolutions. These divestment campaigns are an effort to heed the Palestinian call for institutions around the world to stop profiting from the abuses of Palestinian rights, and the resolutions passed call for universities to withdraw investments from corporations complicit in Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime.
The SJP students have justice on their side, but they are up against entrenched institutions and big money. They need you, and allies everywhere, to show support for #UCDivest:
Olympia, WA –Today, a Washington State court ended a seven-year litigation battle against former volunteer board members of the Olympia Food Co-op over their decision to boycott Israeli goods. The lawsuit was first filed in 2011 by five co-op members seeking to block the co-op’s boycott and to collect monetary damages against the board members. Two of the five members pulled out of the case, and none of the defendants originally named in the case remains a board member of the co-op. The court granted the motion for summary judgment from the former board members, who were represented by Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel, finding the plaintiffs had no standing to bring a case because they failed to show the co-op was injured.
“We are pleased that the court has dismissed this meritless lawsuit. It is a relief and a vindication for our clients, and a victory for everyone who supports the right to boycott,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood, who argued today.
Earlier this week, CCR filed with the court a recently produced document (Exhibit B) in which plaintiffs celebrated the lawsuit’s success in discouraging other co-ops from boycotting Israeli goods.
“We’re delighted that the judge has decided to dismiss this retaliatory lawsuit and protect our clients’ First Amendment freedoms,” said Bruce E.H. Johnson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.
In 2017, the co-op board of directors passed a resolution affirming that the litigation—which was purportedly brought on behalf of the co-op—was not approved by the co-op, is not in the co-op’s interest, and should be dismissed.
CALL CONGRESS ON MONDAY, MARCH 5 – (202) 224-3121 – to say that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is unjust and unconstitutional!
AIPAC is descending on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, March 6 to push their anti-Palestinian rights agenda – part of which is criminalizing our right to boycott.
We need to preempt their lobbying and tell our Members of Congress that we OPPOSE the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, a piece of legislation that would criminalize individuals exercising their First Amendment right to boycott Israel.
“I oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (HR 1697/S 720) because we have the right to boycott until freedom is achieved for Palestinians in occupied territory, justice is guaranteed for Palestinian refugees who have a right to return, and equality is earned for Palestinian citizens of Israel. The Supreme Court, and most recently, a Federal District Court, have upheld our right to boycott. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is both unjust and unconstitutional.”
Today, Mitch Jeserich is in conversation with Sunaina Maira, Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis, and author of the book Boycott!: The Academy and Justice for Palestine. She explains the whys and the wherefores of the boycott movement against Israel, and other historic boycotts as the one against South Africa and the one against grape growers in California during the 1970s.
UoM’s BDS campaign described the stocking of Sabra Hummus in shops on campus as making the “university complicit in human rights violations through the funding of the ‘elite’ branch of the Israeli army”.
The ‘elite’ branch references the Golani Brigade, “who are known to commit a myriad of war crimes in Palestine”, added the statement.
Campaigners hoping to highlight the violations committed by the Israeli military force released a petition challenging the stocking of Sabra products and sent a statement to the manager of catering at the university.
Sabra, a US-based company, is owned jointly by PepsiCo and Strauss Group.
Legislation working its way through the state Legislature would prohibit Wisconsin businesses who sign on to the global Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement from receiving some state contracts.
And, unfortunately, Assembly Bill 553 and Senate Bill 450 are attracting bipartisan support because of a false conflation of BDS with anti-Semitism and discrimination.
But these bills are a mistake for Wisconsin at every level.
Kansas officials are scheduled to appear in court tomorrow to defend a state law designed to suppress boycotts of Israel. There’s just one problem: The state quite literally has no defense for the law’s First Amendment violations.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit in October against a law requiring anyone contracting with the state to sign a statement affirming that they don’t boycott Israel or its settlements. We represent Esther Koontz, a math teacher who was hired by the state to train other teachers. Together with members of her Mennonite church, Esther boycotts Israel to protest its treatment of Palestinians. After she explained that she could not in good conscience sign the statement, the state refused to let her participate in the training program.