Palestine Update 200
The Palestinian last resort is peaceful
Palestine Updates draws to a close for 2018 with an optimistic report from the BDS Movement. World’s seventh largest bank, HSBC, has divested from Israeli weapons maker Elbit Systems over human rights concerns, in a major victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement that fights Israel’s occupation of Palestine. A report, mainly from a ‘War on Want’ campaign, shows how the Israeli military is Elbit Systems’ largest customer, accounting for some 20 percent of its nearly $3.4bn total revenue in 2017.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) hailed this and called on other companies to follow suit. BDS has proven that it is now waging a peaceful conflict against Israel’s continued flouting of international law and human rights.
Encouragingly, last week the Palestinian government decided to ban entry of Israeli vegetables, fruits and poultry into the Palestinian market, following an Israel ban on import of similar Palestinian products.
We also report on an important BDS decision from several months ago which missed our attention but which, we feel, is important to highlight and maintain on record and as an item fit for dissemination. An article we cover below describes how many authors from around the world have spoken out against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Several celebrated writers have refused offers to have their works translated into Hebrew and distributed by Israeli publishers. An award-winning British novelist of Pakistani descent had this to say: “I do not want to cross the picket line formed by Palestinian civil society, which has asked everyone, who wants to change the situation to not cooperate with organizations that are in any way complicit with the Israeli state.”
We conclude this issue of Palestine Update with greetings for the coming year. Our hopes remain unaffected by the harsh situation of the Palestinians. We know that truth and justice will prevail even if we do not see if its visible fruits in front of us at this very moment. Freedom and dignity are in the making in many ways. It is happening as we read, write, and reflect around the world among the critical mass of people who subscribe to values of human rights and liberation. That is our conviction.
We ask readers to disseminate these reports widely.
Gerhilde Merz -someone special to the work of Palestine Updates
We take this opportunity to introduce Gerhilde Merz who does a voluntary translation of ‘Palestine Updates’ and distributes to about 100 readers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Gerhilde is a retired person and assumed her interest in the Question of Palestine when she worked with “Bread for the Hungry” with the Austrian Lutheran Church Women’s Desk. Her friendship with Sumaya Farhat-Naser (who at that time was the instruction person for World Day of Prayers / Palestine), led Gerhilde to take a deep interest in Palestine. That, in turn, brought her on as the Austrian coordination group of EAPPI. I started translating Her close working relationship with John Calhoun meant she could join a wider network through participation in the Global Advocacy Meeting in Geneva, in 2010. It was then she started translating PIEF POST. We are grateful to Gerhilde for her loyal support of our work despite her many home commitments as mother, grandmother, and great grandmother!
HSBC joins BDS, divests from Israeli arms maker
World’s seventh largest bank, HSBC, has divested from Israeli weapons maker Elbit Systems over human rights concerns, in a major victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement that fights Israel’s occupation of Palestine. While HSBC had yet to officially announce the decision, sources within the UK-based bank confirmed The company states that although it never takes sides on political issues, it still “observes international human rights principles” that govern businesses.
British activist group War on Want announced that HSBC decided to divest from Elbit after receiving over 24,000 emails from people concerned about its ties to Elbit and other firms that helped the Israeli military’s brutal crackdown on Palestinian people. In their emails, the activists told HSBC that its involvement with the Elbit Systems violated the bank’s self-proclaimed policy of not providing financial services to “companies involved in the production or selling of cluster munitions.” It also was in breach of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the group added.
“HSBC has taken a positive first step in divesting from Elbit Systems, the notorious manufacturer of drones, chemical weapons, cluster bomb artillery systems, and other technology used in attacks against Palestinian civilians, and to militarize walls and borders around the world,” said Ryvka Barnard, War on Want’s senior campaigner on militarism and security. “Doing business with companies like Elbit means profiting from violence and human rights violation, which is both immoral and a contravention of international law,” she added.
Barnard noted that HSBC was still maintaining ties with over a dozen other Israeli firms involved in crimes against Palestinians. In fact, HSBC’s $3.92 million investment in Elbit was a small fraction of the $1.05bn it has invested in companies that provided equipment to the Israeli military, according to War on Want.
Elbit Systems is Israel’s second largest arms manufacturer, according to Who Profits, a group that tracks companies benefiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.
Israeli Agricultural Products Banned from Palestinian Market
The Palestinian government decided, on Thursday, to ban entry of Israeli vegetables, fruits and poultry into the Palestinian market, following an Israel ban on import of similar Palestinian products.
The cabinet said, in a statement following its weekly meeting held in Ramallah, that “in accordance with the principle of protecting the local produce and the Palestinian farmer in order to achieve the government’s policy of supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian farmers and in light of the unilateral Israeli decision to prevent the entry of Palestinian vegetables and fruits into Israeli markets, the government decided to prevent the entry of all kinds of vegetables, fruits and poultry into the Palestinian markets.”
Israel took its action against the Palestinian produce after the Palestinians decided not to allow, into their markets, live sheep imported by Israelis, in order to protect the local livestock farmers.
Western Authors take stand – refuse to be published in Israel
An Israeli publisher is finding it increasingly difficult to acquire translation rights to some of the year’s most important novels, mostly due to the reinvigorated support many writers are feeling for Palestine and the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Movement. Haaretz contributor Gili Izikovich reports on the matter.
While many authors from around the world have spoken out against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, a few renowned writers—like Henning Mankell, China Miéville, and most recently Kamila Shamsie—are refusing to have their works translated into Hebrew and distributed by Israeli publishers. Shamsie, an award-winning British novelist of Pakistani descent, clarified in an email to an Israel publisher why she would not accept a contract: “I would be very happy to be published in Hebrew, but I don’t know of any (fiction) publisher of Hebrew who is not Israeli, and I understand that there is no Israeli publisher who is completely unentangled from the state. I do not want to cross the picket line formed by Palestinian civil society, which has asked everyone who wants to change the situation to not cooperate with organizations that are in any way complicit with the Israeli state.”
BDS, the Palestinians’ ‘last resort’
A history that is often forgotten is that not too long ago Palestinians had a thriving civil society where union reps had voting spots in the government, the PLO. It was democracy, not perfect and not attached to any state and stationed in exile, but there was a process for any Palestinian to be a part of the bigger picture. After the Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority, the leadership who was negotiating with Israel overnight disenfranchised these pillars of support.
But civil society did not disband or go home. They joined a fledging nonviolent movement that was cascading across the West Bank countryside in villages that protested Israel’s wall and settlements. Eventually this rolled into the BDS movement, which is explored in depth in Nathan Thrall’s long read in the Guardian on the origins of the BDS movement. It’s sub-headlined: “Israel sees the international boycott campaign as an existential threat to the Jewish state. Palestinians regard it as their last resort.”
What is concerning to Israel is how BDS has changed the parameters of Israel’s moral terms. This is the view of Yossi “Kuper” Kuperwasser, who was at the helm of Israel’s government anti-BDS agency during its formative years. Kuperwasser is a character that is not often represented in reporting in that he is against BDS but has a strong sense of its mechanics.
Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.
لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.