Breaking: Berkeley Divests from G4S


Palestinian Rights Groups Cheer Berkeley’s Decision to Divest from Private Prisons

Friends of Sabeel – North America, FOSNA Voice, July 22, 2016

To see if your city invests or has a contract with G4S, or to launch a campaign, contact Rochelle@fosna.org.

Berkeley, CA, July 19, 2016 — The City of Berkeley will divest from corporations that operate private prisons and will push Wells Fargo and other firms to follow suit, according to a resolution passed unanimously by the City Council Tuesday night.

Enlace, an alliance of low-wage worker centers, unions, and community organizations, and the Afrikan Black Coalition, representing black students in the University of California and California State University systems, brought the issue to Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission in June. The commission found that “private prisons have been linked to numerous cases of violence including sexual abuse, beatings, turning a blind eye to gang violence among inmates, denial of food and medical attention, and atrocious conditions,” and urged the council to divest from corporations including GEO Group, Corrections Corporation of America, and G4S.

Continue reading

Ben Ehrenreich Writes a Love Letter to Palestine

Next we meet Hani Amer, whose farm lay on the route of the infamous wall. After a long struggle, Amer won the right to have his house and some of his land preserved . . . The Israeli Army built a gate that they opened for 15 minutes every 24 hours. . . Most disturbing is “planet Hebron,” where the list of abuses considered normal includes soldiers firing tear gas at schoolchildren to mark the beginning and end of each day of school.

BEN RAWLENCE, The New York Times, July 14, 2016

Children playing in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City in 2007 (Ruth Fremson/The New Yorkr Times)

An intimate, vivid look at daily life in Palestine

THE WAY TO THE SPRING
Life and Death in Palestine
By Ben Ehrenreich
Illustrated. 428 pp. Penguin Press. $28.

“It is perhaps unavoidable and surely unfortunate that any book about the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea requires introduction, and some small degree of defensiveness on the part of the author.” So writes Ben Ehrenreich, a journalist and novelist, in the (avoidable) introduction to his love letter to Palestine, “The Way to the Spring.”

I say avoidable because, as Ehren­reich acknowledges on the same page, the current debate about Israel-Palestine is virulently partisan. His exposition of the politics of storytelling (“choosing certain stories and not others means taking a side”) and the task of the writer (“to battle untruth”) is eloquent, though I fear more likely to deter than move those who have already made up their minds on the issue. His cause would be better served by letting his stories do the talking, for they are both heartbreaking and eye-opening.

The book begins with Bassem Tamimi, whom Ehrenreich met in 2011. Bassem is a resident of the village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, which had been holding weekly demonstrations against the Israeli occupation — protesting the grabbing of the village spring (its water supply) and the arrest and detention of villagers, as well as the death of one of them, a 13-year-old boy. The intimacy of Ehrenreich’s reporting domesticates the violence and injustice, thus rendering it more shocking: A fragment of a tear gas grenade and broken lawn furniture mingle beneath a fruiting mulberry tree in the garden. Children proudly show where an Israeli bullet scarred one of the rooms. Bassem’s wife, Nariman, reads Dan Brown in Arabic translation outside, at night, watching the brake lights of cars at the checkpoint down the hill.

The people of Nabi Saleh are among the few who still regularly protest and resist the occupation, and Ehrenreich accompanies them on marches, getting tear-gassed more times than I can count. But this is not the story he has come for, not the only one he is interested in. He spends enough time among the family of Bassem and others to realize that “the people of Nabi Saleh were crafting a narrative of their own struggle.” They needed “to see themselves a certain way.” And this is the heart of the book: the stories people tell themselves to survive.

Next we meet Hani Amer, whose farm lay on the route of the infamous wall. After a long struggle, Amer won the right to have his house and some of his land preserved but enclosed like a bubble with the wall divided into two loops. The Israeli Army built a gate that they opened for 15 minutes every 24 hours. Nonetheless, within the space, he has planted olive, fig, apple, peach and plum trees, vegetables of all kinds. “Instead of seeing the wall,” he says, “I try to see the garden.”

The narrative doesn’t linger for long with any one character. Like an over­eager tour guide, Ehrenreich has too much to show us and too much to say. He pulls us back to Ramallah to see the incremental theft that is the process of a new settlement going up. Then to the refurbished muqata’a, the official residence of the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to illustrate how the building works as a “palimpsest of 80 years of colonial and now neocolonial rule,” designed to create the impression of a state without the substance. Most disturbing is “planet Hebron,” where the list of abuses considered normal includes soldiers firing tear gas at schoolchildren to mark the beginning and end of each day of school.

We meet a new cast of characters in Hebron, and another in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kheir, including the unforgettable vegetarian pastoralist Eid Suleiman ­al-­Hathalin, who makes model bulldozers out of scrap and whose ambition is to have one of them exhibited at the Caterpillar company’s museum in Peoria, Ill. In between are set-piece “interludes” examining the mechanics of the occupation — the “humiliation machine” of the checkpoint at Qalandia, the apartment blocks of Rawabi, near Ramallah, not, as the promotional materials and newspaper reports would have you believe, a “city of hope,” but in fact a tangle of financial interests tying Palestinian elites to Israeli developers and Qatari ­financiers.

Continue reading

Israeli Court Rules to Keep Palestinian Clown in Jail Without Trial

Mohammed Abu Saha’s arrest sparked an international campaign by circus performers for his release. Though no charges have been filed against him, Shin Bet claims he’s a member of the PFLP terrorist group.

Haaretz, Jun 13, 2016


Mohammed Abu Saha, a circus performer and teacher, has been under administrative detention since December 14, 2015

  • IN PHOTOS: Palestinians take protesting to the circus

  • Israel holding Palestinian circus performer in detention without trial for three months

  • Mohammed Abu Saha, a Palestinian circus clown and trainer will be held without trial for another six months, the Palestinian Circus School near Ramallah in the West Bank reported on its Facebook page on Monday.

    Circus performers around the world have mobilized in support of Abu Saha, 24, who has been in an Israeli jail under administrative detention since December 14, 2015. His original six month detention was to have expired on Monday, if it was not renewed. 

    “No freedom for Abu Saha. Administrative detention order extended with another 6 months. Our hearts are heavy. May Abu Saha be granted the strength to endure this big injustice,” reads the Facebook post.

    The IDF has yet to comment on the matter.

    The Shin Bet security service has said Abu Saha is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, and constitutes a security risk that could not be addressed any other way other than through administrative detention.

    Over the past six months, protests have been held around the world over Abu Saha’s detention without trial. Circus groups, including those in Spain, France, Denmark, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina, have posted pictures of themselves on social media holding signs calling for his release. Activists have held small demonstrations and posted videos, including songs specially composed as part of the effort, on the matter. More than 12,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Abu Saha’s release. Amnesty International also called for his release.

    Continue reading

    Thank Rep. Mark Pocan for Speaking Up for Palestinian Children

    Just Foreign Policy, June 21, 2016

    Your Representative, Mark Pocan, was one of 20 signers of the Congressional letter to President Obama urging his administration to take steps to “address serious human rights abuses against Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation.” The letter, organized by Rep. Betty McCollum, calls for a Special Envoy for Palestinian Youth to work with human rights organizations, the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to ensure that the rights of children are protected.

    According to a report from Defense of Children International-Palestine, three-quarters of detained Palestinian children suffer physical violence. As the lawmakers note, an ever-present fear of arrest, detention, and violence for Palestinian children both violates their human rights and serves to fuel the conflict.

    Please call Rep. Mark Pocan at (202) 225-2906. When you reach a staffer, mention that you are a constituent and thank them for using their power to uplift the human rights of the most vulnerable.

    And please share this video highlighting the human rights abuses Palestinian children face by the Israeli military occupation using the hashtags #700ChildPrisoners and #NoWayToTreatAChild.

    Thanks for all you do to help make U.S. foreign policy more just,

    Avram Reisman, Robert Naiman, and Sarah Burns
    Just Foreign Policy

    Help support our work!
    If you think our work is important, support us with a $15 donation.
    http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

    More information on the “No Way to Treat a Child” campaign
    Please support our work. Donate for a Just Foreign Policy
    © 2016 Just Foreign Policy

    Landmark G4S Boycott Victory

    As anti-BDS forces are trying to get various levels of government to “outlaw” BDS, it appears that some corporations are getting the message.

    Landmark boycott victory as G4S says it is leaving Israel

    Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 10 March 2016

    G4S has been protested by Palestine solidarity campaigners worldwide.G4S, one of the world’s biggest security and imprisonment firms, has announced it plans to end all its business with Israel within the next 12 to 24 months. (Anne Paq, ActiveStills)

    Palestinians are welcoming the news as a major victory and a sign of the powerful impact of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

    But they also warn that pressure on the company must continue until it has actually ended its role in Israel’s violations of the rights of Palestinians, especially thousands languishing in Israel’s prisons.

    The announcement makes G4S the latest multinational company – following transport and municipal services firm Veolia, telecom giant Orange and construction materials conglomerate CRH – to head for the exits in the wake of sustained campaigns by the BDS movement.

    “Reputationally damaging work”

    G4S announced on Wednesday that it plans to “exit a number of businesses,” including G4S Israel, US “youth justice services” and UK “children’s services.”

    The Financial Times said that by ending these businesses, the company would be “extracting itself from reputationally damaging work.”

    Since 2010, G4S has lost contracts worth millions of dollars as a direct result of activist campaigns.

    Stop G4S, a global campaign endorsed by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, aims to hold the company accountable for providing equipment and services to Israeli prisons in which thousands of Palestinian political prisoners, children and administrative detainees are subjected to inhumane treatment.

    G4S also provides equipment for checkpoints along Israel’s wall annexing Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank and for its settlements built in violation of international law.

    The firm also co-manages the Israeli police academy in Jerusalem.

    Lost contracts

    In recent months, G4S has lost contracts with two UN agencies in Jordan and with an international Colombia-based restaurant chain.

    Other lost clients include universities and trade unions. The Bill Gates Foundation and the United Methodist Church in the US divested major shareholdings from G4S.

    Continue reading