September 10, 2008

Palestinians reject Israel boycott campaign

Posted in boycott, israel, palestinians tagged at 11:53 pm by Mira Vogel

Last month the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions and the Israeli equivalent Histadrut signed an agreement calling for “fraternity and coexistence between the two peoples.”

And yet the Green Party conference was awash with leaflets urging us to boycott Israel. We have a pro-boycott leader and a futile and simplistic resolution to impose total boycott, divestment and sanctions stands.

Now the PGFTU has indicated again that it does not support general BDS.

“We did consider the option, if it could pressure the Israeli government to obey United Nations resolutions and respect human rights”, said Mr Nasser “but we do not see it as effective. Instead we think there should be boycotts only of companies directly involved in building settlements and the apartheid wall.”

This makes much more sense (stupid apartheid comparison notwithstanding) because it is specific, bounded, related to its aims, and targeted at the occupation.

Trade Union Friends of Israel said of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign of Conference delegates:

“Three years ago they stripped our stand of all the leaflets,” said volunteer Ian Sternberg, “this year the stand is opposite that of the PSC and things are quite friendly.”

James Caspell hasn’t quite achieved the required u-turn.

May 17, 2008

Caroline Lucas defends the Boycott in Jewish Socialist magazine

Posted in boycott, british greens, israel tagged at 9:49 pm by raphavisses

Quote:

Financial and moral support from the United States means that Israel has been able to act with relative immunity, hiding behind its incendiary claim that all who criticise its policies are anti Semitic. This does a great disservice to the many Jewish people who support the principle of universal human rights, and who oppose the current policies of the Israeli state.”

Full text of her article entitled: No green light for occupiers, here.

David Hirsh discusses Caroline’s use of the Livingstone Formulation, here.

April 18, 2008

Green candidate: no to boycott

Posted in boycott, british greens, israel tagged , at 2:52 pm by raphavisses

UPDATE 1 (April 19, 4pm): It seems that Sian and Jenny do not confirm the JC information. We are waiting for a full statement from them; it will be published as soon as…

UPDATE 2 (April 24, 10am): No public statement from Sian or Jenny; I copy below the full press release from London Jewish Forum which was issued after the meeting (the JC article was based on this press release).

From the Jewish Chronicle

Green candidate: no to boycott
17/04/2008 12:01:00

Sian Berry, the Green candidate for mayor of London, has disavowed the party’s policy of support for boycotting Israel. She and London Assembly Green member Jenny Jones told the London Jewish Forum on Tuesday they looked forward to the policy being changed, according to the forum. Adrian Cohen, LJF chairman, said it was “a first step towards links between the London Jewish community and the Green Party”.

http://www.thejc.com

PRESS RELEASE (issued by London Jewish Forum):

London Jewish Forum meeting with Green Party candidates

17th April 2008

Embargo: Immediate

On Tuesday evening, Adrian Cohen and other members of London Jewish Forum met with Green Mayoral candidate Sian Berry and Assembly Member Jenny Jones to discuss the London elections and to foster mutual understanding between the Green Party and London’s Jewish community.

The meeting saw a discussion of the priorities of Jewish Londoners, as well as those of the Green Party. Community safety and the threat of political extremism, cultural provision and the need for increased social housing to accommodate the growing Charedi community in Stamford Hill were all discussed. The Green candidates highlighted their commitment to increase the proportion of affordable housing in new developments to 60%.

There was a frank discussion surrounding the Green Party’s support for the boycott of Israel. Both Sian Berry and Jenny Jones confirmed that they did not support the current policy and looked forward to this being changed at their next conference.

The London Jewish Forum was invited to organise a speaker for a meeting at the next Green Conference, in London in September, to speak on the issue of Jewish community interests.

Sian Berry expressed serious concerns about the threat of BNP gains in the assembly election. LJF outlined the communal ‘Your Voice or theirs Campaign’, aimed at increasing Jewish turnout.

Adrian Cohen, Chair of London Jewish Forum, said “This was very successful meeting, with a frank discussion on a wide range of issues. It was a first step towards building links between the London Jewish community and the Green Party, and I look forward to that relationship developing further.”

Over the past months, London Jewish Forum has held meetings with the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat mayoral candidates.

END OF PRESS RELEASE

April 13, 2008

Boycott-induced introversion – not environmentally friendly

Posted in boycott, british greens, israel tagged , , at 11:32 pm by Mira Vogel

As well as not working very well (especially when they’re vague and don’t have realistic aims, as in the case of our embarrassing and hate-inspiring Motion C05), boycotting a country causes that country to turn in on itself. It’s worth noting, since there’s a tendency to mis-compare Israel with South Africa, that the end of apartheid was achieved through popular uprising and the political acumen of anti-apartheid activists like Nelson Mandela, and the role of the boycott, which had the side-effect of making apartheid-supporting South Africans – the holders of power – defiantly hunker down, is contested.

Israelis understand that the intention of their boycotters is to cancel Israel – by referring to it as an ‘apartheid state’ as if Israel and Palestine were a single country, by proposing to starve it of weapons despite the avowed obliterationist intentions of powerful regional factions like Hesbollah and Hamas, or by claiming that all Palestinians have the right to live in Israel. Understandable if they feel a tiny bit alienated and insecure.

After all, Israel has been boycotted and under attack since its inception, a circumstance which, in the consciousness of many Jews, is merely a continuation of age-old attacks on, boycotts of, discrimination against, and explusion of Jews. British Greens should care more.

This Jerusalem Post article on an Israeli bill to introduce a 1NIS charge for each plastic bag used in supermarkets, makes a few points that Green Boycotters should note. One is to do with the fact that states who feel under attack relegate environmentalism down their list of priorities. Another is the impact of Israelis who have travelled and return with stories about how other countries are handling their environmental problems. I doubt if many Israelis are looking to Boycotting Britannia right now. Greens Stop the Boycott would like to change that.

Yehuda Olander, manager of the Sharon District Regional Division for the Quality of the Environment, attributes Israel’s lack of progress on environment preservation to its constant occupation with survival. “Survival here is not only talking about the environment, it’s talking about security,” he explains. “Ten to 20 years ago, when the rest of the world began caring for the environment, Israel was focused on surviving as a country.

“But it works to Israel’s advantage,” Olander continues. Through other countries’ successes and failures, Israel can learn how to be more environmentally responsible.

“[Israelis] come back from Europe and [other parts of the world] and say ‘Wow, look what they have done – how they recycle and how they avoid traveling too much in their cars.'”

March 29, 2008

Women bring green educational institute to Arab sector. The role of a boycott is…?

Posted in boycott, british greens, cooperation, education at 12:30 pm by Mira Vogel

The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reports on a joint initiative between a group of 17 Israeli Arab women and the Israeli Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel to establish an educational institute in the Galilee region that will teach environmental conservation, recycling and ecology:

The women, aged 30 to 35, come from varied backgrounds – Druze, Moslem and Christian. They are being instructed by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

“This is the first group of Arab women to learn about environmental issues,” said Muadi. Explaining that in her neighborhood, environmental awareness is still in its infancy, she added: “We therefore decided to start with activities in the schools, because change has to begin with the students.”

After completing an SPNI course on environmental education, the women joined the staff of SPNI’s field school, which runs the environmental program in the village’s elementary school. The women gave several lessons to every grade, covering environmental topics such as nature, water, recycling, air pollution and ecology. Last week, the women and students went on a field trip that included a clean-up operation.

“The women’s involvement as part of SPNI’s teaching staff,” said Vasil Hazima, director of SPNI’s field school in Maghar”

The Green Party’s boycott Resolution C05 – part of a wider boycott and divestment initiative – currently acts against these types of partnerships. It is an entirely negative force that promotes hostility and inevitably contributes to pressure on Israel’s Arab (or Palestinian – depending on how they self-define) to turn their backs on such initiatives.

This pressure is evidenced in the experience of a delegation of philanthropists who were visiting Israeli Arab villages and institutions to research how best they might contribute to the kind of inclusive, equal society which is prerequisite of any kind of conflict resolution. There was a small but loud call to boycott the delegation. Here’s what Ami Nahshon, one of its members, had to say:

While the call to boycott fell on deaf ears among the vast majority of Arab public and civil society leaders, it taught all of us an important lesson: that the lines of conflict in Israel are not between the Arab and Jewish communities, but rather between those Jews and Arabs who embrace a vision of an inclusive and just society, and those who seem intent on pursuing an agenda of separatism and alienation. Our visit convinced us that it is our duty, as diaspora leaders, to embrace and support those who share this inclusive vision, and not to allow ourselves to be distracted by the separatist voices at the political fringes of both communities.

There is also the experience of peace activist Mohamad Darawshe part of an Israeli Jewish and Arab fact-finding mission to Northern Ireland who was boycotted by a Northern Irish International Relations academic for being Israeli.

And the experience of the Palestinian and Israeli workers and promoters of the Peace Oil initiative, a charity which was subject to a Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) sabotage attempt.

“Anything that the Zionist Federation could get excited about would be bound to inflame the PSC. Pro-boycotters tend to act jealous when Palestinians cooperate with Israelis and frequently attempt to break things up. Targetting Israeli-Arab-Palestinian cooperation and making an issue out of the only product in the Good Gifts catalogue with an Israel connection is a wedge-driving tactic and part of the general boycott strategy. It’s of a piece with their hard work to stop OneVoice dual peace concerts in Tel Aviv and Jericho, and their condemnation of Israeli academics for apathy while simultaneously encouraging and pressurising Palestinian academics to have nothing to do with them.”

OneVoice is a citizens’ Israeli-Palestinian peace movement which was sabotaged by boycotters when they attempted to stage joint peace concerts in Tel Aviv and Jericho.

What contribution has the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement had on improving Palestinian lives and advancing towards a just resolution to the conflict? None. It’s logic is to polarise, not reconcile. And meanwhile Israel’s reprehensible settlement activity in Har Homa and Givat Ze’ev continues, in the face of the Annapolis agreement to freeze activity, and despite the long-overdue evacuation of 18 ‘outposts’. The security barrier’s mission creep endures, causing it to bite deep into Palestinian territory. Hamas consolidates power in Gaza, tolerating or promoting the persecution of Christians, journalists and Trade Unionists. Gazan women take up the veil to avoid negative attention. Fatah, the secular political force in the West Bank weakens as the clerical, anti-democratic parties of Hamas and Hizb ut Tahrir gain ground. Iran funds weapons for Hamas and Hesbollah.

The Green boycott is the opposite of helpful. Any green activist should understand that it has no place in a movement which purports to support ecological and environmental activism. Its logic is conflict, separatism and alienation, and we should get rid of it as soon as possible.

The Green Party should turn its back on anything that contributes to this pressure by rescinding Resolution C05. If we care about a peace beween Palestinians and Israelis, we should work on an alternative vision. And we will.

March 23, 2008

Harry’s Place post on Greens Against the Boycott

Posted in boycott, british greens at 9:45 pm by Mira Vogel

Harry’s Place is a good place to be seen. Go and follow the comments to this post.

March 20, 2008

Adrian Windisch on the Green Party boycott resolution

Posted in boycott, british greens at 8:56 pm by greensstoptheboycott

Adrian Windisch is a Reading Green Party member. On his blog he rejects the boycott as the answer to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

March 17, 2008

Bristol climate change professor wins Tel Aviv University prize. And we’re supposed to object?

Posted in boycott, climate change at 1:39 pm by Mira Vogel

The Guardian reports that one of three prestigious Dan David Prizes of $1m has been awarded to paleoclimatologist Geoffrey Eglinton, Emeritus Professor in Earth Sciences at Bristol University‘s School of Chemistry, for his work on the history of climate change. From the Dan David Prize site:

Geoffrey Eglinton’s laboratory introduced “molecular stratigraphy” as a means of following variations in ancient climates and drew on the work of oceanographers, paleontologists, and geologists. He provided a basis for recognizing the origins of hydrocarbons in petroleum and other deposits. He led in the elucidation of the origins of complex, biologically diagnostic molecules found in sediments.

By studying how their structures were altered during storage in buried sediments, he established an entirely new means for examining the evolutions of sedimentary basins and their resident fossil fuels. He was first to recognize that molecular products of marine algae served as recorders of sea-surface temperature and thus of ancient climatic variations. Because these techniques rely on lines of evidence not previously exploited, they have particular power and impact, providing clearly independent tests of ideas about Earth history.

The Dan David Prize is an international initiative headquartered at Tel Aviv University which makes its annual awards in three areas of human achievement: past, present and future:

The Dan David Prize recognizes and encourages innovative and interdisciplinary research that cuts across traditional boundaries and paradigms. It aims to foster universal values of excellence, creativity, justice, democracy and progress and to promote the scientific, technological and humanistic achievements that advance and improve our world.

Experts from France, Britain, the USA, Switzerland and Israel make up the committee which awards this prize. It is an example of international cooperation with a holistic outlook to reward progress. Does current Green Party policy seriously seriously propose that the world turn its back on this prize for no better reason than that Israel is involved?

March 2, 2008

The country the Greens voted to boycott

Posted in agriculture, boycott, dedesertification, energy, israel, letter, solar, Uncategorized, water at 10:56 pm by greensstoptheboycott

A letter from Andrew White of www.beyondimages.info, some of Israel’s high-level contributions to meeting the global environmental challenge.

Israel and the global environmental challenge

Last week, the UK Green Party passed a resolution calling for a wide-ranging boycott of Israel. The Greens campaign on environmental issues generally, chiefly global warming.

The Green’s move is absurd for the same reason that any boycott motion against Israel is absurd:

  • it reflects a totally one-sided view of a complex conflict;
  • it does nothing to promote coexistence and dialogue;
  • it emboldens the [fundamentalist] Islamist mindset and rejectionism;
  • it reflects double-standards, and is completely counter-productive.

(See Beyond Images Briefing 30, on the proposed academic boycott of Israel, in which we summarised these and several other arguments).

But there’s a strong additional reason why the Green Party’s move is absurd.

Israel is contributing significantly to worldwide efforts to counter climate change:

  • Israel’s solar energy sector is pioneering, and having an increasing international impact
  • Israel is at the forefront of the international drive to combat so-called ‘desertification’ – the steady spread of deserts and the destruction of farmland and forests
  • The UN General Assembly recently adopted a milestone resolution on agricultural development which was sponsored by Israel, and which promotes environmentally friendly agricultural practices internationally, including many devised in Israel
  • Israel’s university research labs are leading the way in clean energy research and innovation
  • Israeli companies are deeply involved in introducing energy-efficient technologies for powering vehicles, factories and other infrastructure
  • Israeli start-up companies such as Water Sheer as well as the national water carrier Mekorot are championing new methods of recycling waste water. They are helping to spread the know how to provide clean drinking water for the world’s poor and vulnerable, again with major environmental and human benefits
  • There are many grass-roots, citizens’ initiatives in Israel (including joint Israeli-Palestinian projects) which promote environmental awareness and changes of lifestyle

There’s plenty more which Israel is doing to help the green revolution on its way.

That’s the country which the Greens have just voted to boycott…

March 1, 2008

Greens protest the boycott

Posted in boycott, israel, letter at 10:40 pm by greensstoptheboycott

Further to the news that the Green Party passed resolution C05, see Engage for links to a piece and letters in the Jewish Chronicle and other criticism.

Next page