Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Greeners in Palestine: Elissa Goss on Israel/Palestine

Evergreen State College Senior and TESC Divest! member Elissa Goss recently returned from a delegation with Interfaith Peacebuilders to Israel/Palestine led by Cindy Corrie in which she assisted Palestinians with the Fall olive harvest. The following article will be published in Evergreen's campus newspaper The Cooper Point Journal in the coming weeks. Read more of Elissa's thoughts at her blog Acts of Humanity. If you’d like to hear more first hand accounts, check out the blog of Evergreen alum Maya Amber Harris who was on the same delegation, as well as alum David Langstaff's blog, both of whom are continuing their time in Israel/Palestine.

Elissa is eager to keep giving presentations about the delegation and can be reached at elissagoss8@gmail.com if you would like to get together and chat or set-up a presentation with a group or program.

Continuing Thoughts on Israel/Palestine
By Elissa Goss  
I was asked to write some final thoughts after my trip to the West Bank and Israel, to round out the blog posts that were printed the past few issues. I realized however, that I don’t have “final” thoughts.  The occupation is still happening, and now that I understand better U.S. complicity in human rights abuses in the region, I can’t stop thinking about it….and trying to do what I can here in the U.S. and more importantly, here on campus and in the community.

So what’s the best thing I could say at this moment? I feel that it is this: supporting Palestinians rights to self-determination doesn't mean you are signing yourself up on a list for the destruction of Israel and greater harm to Israelis. What was deeply moving about our time in the West Bank, was witnessing the majority of Palestinians engaged in non-violence through demonstrations, legal battles, and resistance through existence. The fault of media is to only draw our attention to external forms of violence and ignore the structural violence that is afflicted on Palestinians on a daily basis in the occupation.

What does this structural violence look like? Imagine you are a farmer. You had a profitable olive orchard, but the separation wall built in 2003 cut your land in half and now you are barely able to keep food on the table. Settler children from a nearby settlement ( mini-neighborhoods ranging from a couple hundred to a couple thousands Israeli citizens illegally on Palestinian land)  throw rocks at your and your family when you are trying to harvest what is left of your land. The Israeli court struck down your appeal for a permit to access your olive orchard on the other side of the wall. You are not allowed to build on your property, because of “security measures” and the majority of your money goes to buying water from the Israeli water company because Israel controls all of the aquifers. You have to pass through a military checkpoint to get to next major urban area and you are delayed about 2-5 hours each time because of long lines. No one in your area is involved in violent protests. You or your family have never fought back yet you find yourself subjected to humiliation from soldiers and neighbors, who never once stop to consider your own humanity. Your partner wants you to move, they is tired of the harassment, but you cannot afford the trip and this land has been in your family since the late 1800s. It is your home, these olive trees are like children, and you want your children to inherit this. You want to live in peace.

Structural violence means that every part of your life is impacted by a barrier of some sort: denied equal access to education, land, water, food, political representation, cultural expression….it creates a life struggling to survive in a cage.

I ask that we continue to search for facts on the ground. That we listen to those struggling to have their voices heard because Palestinians are systematically shut-out and forced to subject themselves to U.S./Israel conditions for “peace”. What makes Palestinians needs for peace and justice any less important than Israel’s?

Israel inflicts a violent occupation that seeps through Palestinian life like a virus, killing them one by one, sometimes in small groups, sometimes in large bombs. It kills them through shooting at protests when children throw rocks, when farmers try and harvest their recently confiscated fields, kills their children’s ability to graduate into a thriving economy by crushing Palestinians ability to even build one, it kills them through covering their dreams of ever being able to go to the ocean, telling children and their families that they are threats before they are 5. The occupation kills by preventing access and control of important resources like water and farmland. The occupation essentially silently suffocates daily Palestinian life and growth.

Israel has an imbalance of economical, political and military power in the region and has the responsibility to end the occupation if peace can ever be possible. But it is daily and it is constant. We must recognize the human rights abuses and as a U.S. citizen, I must recognize, speak out and try to end the financial support we provide for these daily, silent attacks.

I also must connect their struggle for self-determination with voices for justice such as Jewish Voices for Peace, working to end the occupation and follow the threads of power. I must connect their struggle with the struggle of self-determination for people all over the word, resisting against white supremacy, imperialism, aggressive capitalism and other systems that dehumanize people and erases their history. I must connect their struggle with home. I must, and we must, not only look outside our border at injustice, but work to end injustice here. We must work together to understand the connections all of our struggles, find the axes of accumulated power and transform them.

I honored and humble from witnessing such strength to just survive….both there, and here in the U.S. This experience has shown me that injustice is never too complicated to understand, and justice is not impossible achieve. I understand that I have a responsibility to be apart of dismantling systems of power that favors some over others because I have had the privilege to be on the receiving end of a world superpower…at the expense of millions around the world. I am also understanding that with this responsibility, comes great joy as well, the joy of being fully human by being apart of making justice happen.

On one of the days in the delegation, we tackled a field of olive trees trying to help finish the harvest with our host families but were unable to finish. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that we were leaving so soon. One of the aunts saw that I had gotten very quiet and after I replied to her question as to why I was upset, she smiled and told me, “ Oh, we will get the harvest done. It takes all of us, but we will do it. And it will take all of you, doing the work you’re doing, to truly help us.”

She is right. Justice will take all of us if we want peace to be more than lip-service and if there is a community that I trust to do that with, it is ours here at Evergreen.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Elissa Goss: Israel/Palestine & the Question of the West Bank

Student Reportback: Israel/Palestine and the Question of the West bank

Tuesday, Dec. 4th


2700 Evergreen Pkwy NWOlympia, Washington
CAB Conference Room (3rd floor of the CAB)

Please join Evergreen Senior Elissa Goss as she shares what she learned while over in Israel and the West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territory this fall as part of an Independent Learning Contract looking at the economics and ideology of the occupation. This will be an informative and inspiring presentation focusing on key findings, how we frame the narrative of the conflict, and what the next steps are as part of the international movement to end the occupation. 

Sponsored by Mid-East Solidarity Project and TESCDivest!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Solidarity with Gaza in Olympia

In response to Israel's bombing attacks on civilians in Gaza, Olympians gathered in the streets to protest and to show solidarity with Gazans.

Pictures via The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Earlham College Ends Sales of Sabra Hummus!

Yet another campus BDS victory!

On September 13th, BDS Earlham, a BDS organization at the Quaker-affiliated Earlham College, announced that Earlham's Dining Services would cease sales of Sabra Hummus after BDS proponents brought to light Sabra's complicity in Israel's human rights violations against Palestinians. Sabra Dipping Company is a subsidary of Strauss Group LTD.

BDS Earlham:

The decision comes after a group of concerned students and faculty approached Earlham’s dining services requesting the removal of the product from the college’s facilities.
Strauss Group Ltd. provides financial support and supplies to the Golani and Givati brigades of the Israeli army, which is responsible for enforcing Israel’s illegal, 45-year-old military occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands, and other grave and systematic human rights abuses.

“We applaud Earlham College’s dining service for taking this principled stand and refusing to do business with Sabra Dipping Company,” said Basil Farraj, of BDS Earlham. “Earlham students will no longer be unwittingly supporting Israeli abuses of Palestinian human rights when they purchase hummus and other products on campus.”

Earlham College’s dining services has promised to provide an alternative for the removed product, and were quick to note that they take student concerns seriously and follow through with immediate action.

TESC Divest! applauds Earlham College and congratulates BDS Earlham on this amazing victory.

Earlham's successful boycott of Sabra Hummus follows a victory at The Evergreen State College this past spring when Evergreen's student-run cafe, The Flaming Eggplant, announced that it would boycott Israeli products in solidarity with the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

BDS Earlham is in the midst of a campaign to encourage Earlham to divest from companies materially supporting or profiting from Israeli violations of International law and the universal principles of Human Rights.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Support the Olympia Food Co-op in the latest hearing of the Anti-BDS Lawsuit!

Support the Olympia Food Co-op at the latest hearing in the anti-BDS lawsuit

Come out and show your support for the Olympia Food Co-op at the latest hearing regarding the fees and fines from the lawsuit filed this past year in an unsuccessful attempt to force the store to rescind its historic boycott of Israeli goods.  Supporters of the co-op call for a show of community solidarity at the Thurston County Superior Court this Thursday, July 12th at 8:30 AM.

Despite the fact that their anti-BDS lawsuit was thrown out and declared an illegal attempt to stifle free speech, the plaintiffs in the anti-BDS lawsuit contend that as members of the food co-op, they sued on behalf of the store, and therefore all financial penalties that they accrued in their lawsuit should be paid by the co-op itself.  In addition, the plaintiff’s lawyer has promised to appeal, in an attempt to draw the co-op into a long, drawn out, legal battle that could last years.

The lawsuit against the co-op in Olympia, backed in part by Stand With Us, a national far-right pro-Israel group, and the Israeli Consulate of the Pacific Northwest, is part of a larger campaign to silence debate about Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Please join us to demonstrate our community’s overwhelming support for the co-op’s brave stand for Palestinian human rights and freedom of speech!

Additional information regarding the lawsuit can be found at http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/davis-v-cox and http://www.olympiabds.org/.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

BDS Victory: TIAA-CREF Removes CAT from their SRI Fund!

This is a major victory! From our partners at WE DIVEST:

Caterpillar Removed from TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds
Victory for Pro-divestment Advocates

June 21, 2012-
Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF has removed Caterpillar, Inc. from its Social Choice Funds portfolio. As of May 1, 2012, financial data posted on TIAA-CREF’s website valued Social Choice Funds shares in Caterpillar at $72,943,861. Today it is zero.

“We applaud this decision,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and National Coordinator of the We Divest Campaign (www.wedivest.org). “It’s long past time that TIAA-CREF began living up to its motto of ‘Financial Services for the Greater Good’ when it comes to the people of Israel and Palestine.”

Since 2010, We Divest has been urging TIAA-CREF to drop Caterpillar and other companies profiting from and facilitating Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

“By selling weaponized bulldozers to Israel, Caterpillar is complicit in Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights,” said Rabbi Wise. “We’re glad to see that the socially responsible investment community appears to be recognizing this and is starting to take appropriate action.”

Caterpillar has come under increasing criticism from human rights organizations in recent years for continuing to supply bulldozers to Israel, which uses them to demolish Palestinian civilian homes and destroy crops and agricultural land in the occupied territories, and to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.

In the coming weeks, many will be watching the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly taking place in Pittsburgh, where church commissioners will vote on a motion to divest from Caterpillar and two other companies, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard, that remain in TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds.

Last month, Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker institution, divested $900,000 worth of shares in Caterpillar stating: “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.”

What Others are  Saying
Omar Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and founding member of the BDS movement said, “CAT is out of the bag of TIAA-CREF’s socially responsible companies thanks to the inspiring campaign waged by JVP and its partners, with vision, persistence and tactical skillfulness. Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee (BNC), deeply appreciates these efforts and believes that more pressure will ultimately convince TIAA-CREF to fulfill its basic moral obligation to finally divest from CAT and all other corporations that are complicit in Israel’s grave and escalating violations of international law and human rights.”

Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel Corrie’s parents said, “For nearly a decade, we have witnessed human rights abuses committed with Caterpillar equipment in the West Bank and Gaza and have joined thousands who have asked the company to stop supporting these actions.  We are hugely gratified that TIAA-CREF has taken this step.  When governments and corporations avoid responsibility, we must refuse to profit from their abuses. Our family salutes and thanks TIAA-CREF for this decision that moves all of us closer to accountability.”
Student groups at Evergreen have endorsed a CAT-boycott on campus

This is a significant victory for Evergreen State College where there has been a campaign to boycott and divest from Caterpillar for several years. Evergreen student Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by a Caterpillar D9 weaponized bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza Strip, as she attempted to prevent the illegal demolition of a Palestinian family's home in 2003. Up until today, Evergreen State College faculty whose retirement funds are administered by TIAA-CREF, including many of Rachel's teachers and friends, had no investment options that excluded the corporation that was complicit in her death.

In 2010, the Evergreen student body voted in a landslide victory (71.8%) to declare Evergreen a CAT-Free zone and to endorsed a boycott of Caterpillar Inc. products on campus.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Student-run cafe at Evergreen State College boycotts Israeli products over human rights abuses

Student-Run Cafe at The Evergreen State College Announces Boycott of Israeli Products
The Flaming Eggplant Café joins the global movement for Palestinian Human Rights

Olympia, WA -- On Monday June 4, 2012 The Flaming Eggplant Café, a student worker collective at The Evergreen State College (TESC), formally announced its decision to boycott Israeli goods, becoming the most recent business to join the growing international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

According to the Flaming Eggplant’s mission statement, one of the cafe’s goals is to “nourish the local food system by making delicious, healthy, ecologically and socially just food accessible to all.” In its statement of principles, the collective also expresses its commitment to “supporting political participation and direct action to create a just and egalitarian society.” Office Coordinator Cris Papaiacovou said, “We came to a consensus as a collective to support the Palestinian civil society call for BDS because it is directly in line with our mission and statement of principles.” He added, “We are proud to join this non-violent movement to pressure Israel until it ends its human rights violations against Palestinians.”

The BDS movement began in 2005, when over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations issued a call for widespread BDS campaigns against Israel until the country abides by international law and human rights standards. The BDS call has become an international movement, endorsed by renowned figures such as Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, and Angela Davis.

The café’s support of the boycott becomes the latest victory in ongoing student-led activism for Palestinian human rights at TESC. In the Spring of 2010, the student body voted overwhelmingly to support two resolutions, one calling for divestment from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and the other prohibiting the use of Caterpillar Inc. equipment on campus. Rachel Corrie, an Evergreen student, was killed in 2003 by a weaponized Caterpillar bulldozer operated by the Israeli military as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home in the Gaza Strip.

“We are incredibly proud of the Flaming Eggplant for taking this stand,” said Elizabeth Moore, a student and TESC Divest! organizer. “Due to the absence of accountability shown by our administration, we as students will continue to take the initiative in promoting a just peace in Palestine and Israel.”

TESC Divest! is a student-led organization in Olympia, Washington working to end Evergreen State College’s complicity in Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights through the non-violent tactic of divestment.

The Statement released by the Eggplant collective below:

Statement on Boycott of Israeli Products From The Flaming Eggplant

We, The Flaming Eggplant Cafe, have decided to join the call from Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli products. "These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;        

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and        

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194." (from the Palestinian Civil Society call for BDS)

Our Mission Statement outlines a commitment to serving socially just food. Israel’s policy of illegal land seizure and destruction on Palestinian lands means purchasing items from Israel is in conflict with our mission.

As a student-run collective with the stated principle of supporting direct action for a just and egalitarian society, and as a café representing the student body at large, we feel it is important to uphold the desire for boycott and divestment as voted for by the students at The Evergreen State College. "

Update : June 5

Wanna learn more about the work and vision of The Flaming Eggplant Cafe? Check out this documentary!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Al-Nakba Commemoration on Red Square at Evergreen


On Wednesday, May 15 2012, Evergreen students continued their custom of commemorating Al-Nakba by setting up a display on Red Square of placards with the names of Palestinian villages ethnically cleansed in 1948 upon the establishment of the state of Israel. Members of TESC Divest! handed out fact sheets about the Nakba by Jewish Voice for Peace and spoke with students, faculty, and staff who wanted to learn more about this historic injustice.

In addition, a Nakba memorial developed by the Israeli NGO Zochrot ("Remembering") was displayed in the library, displaying the names of destroyed villages as well as an account of the violent police repression and violence suffered by Israeli Jews who dare to publicly memorialize the Palestinian Nakba in Israel. For more information about Zochrot, visit http://www.zochrot.org/en

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

05/15/12: Bekah Wolf - "Living Under Apartheid" at Evergreen

Bekah Wolf of the Palestine Solidarity Project - "Living Under Apartheid"

  •  Tuesday, May 15, 2012 
    12:00pm until 1:30pm
  • The Evergreen State College
    2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia, WA 98505
    Lecture Hall 5
    Join us to hear Israeli Palestine Solidarity Activist Bekah Wolf speak about her family's experience in the occupied West Bank, and about the ongoing struggle to free Palestinian political prisoners! 
    Bekah Wolf is a Jewish-American originally from Santa Fe, NM who was an active member of her local synagogue growing up and first visited Palestine as part of a Zionist youth trip in 1998. She became active around Arab, Muslim, and South Asian immigrant rights in New York City particularly in the direct aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. As part of a delegation of Jews Against the Occupation, Bekah returned to Palestine as an volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement from 2003-2004.

    In the summer of 2006 she and her now-husband, former political prisoner Mousa Abu Maria, began the Palestine Solidarity Project. Bekah has been arrested over a dozen times in Palestine, lived through the administrative detention of her fiance (whom she married while he was in jail), and has witnessed much of the ongoing military and settler activity throughout the southern West Bank for the last 5 years.

    In 2010 Bekah gave birth to her daughter, Rafeef Abu Maria, who travels with her on most speaking events. Although Bekah has Israeli citizenship, because of Israel's laws against Family Reunification Bekah's husband is not allowed to live with his family inside Israel. Since the birth of Rafeef, Bekah splits her time between the United States and Palestine.

    This event will be held in Lecture Hall 5, at 12pm on Tuesday, May 15th. It is sponsored by the Mideast Solidarity Project, TESC Divest!, the Reinterpreting Liberation program, and the Resistance and Social Change program. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

PNW MEChA Conference Endorses BDS

M.E.Ch.A. de Evergreen Press Contact: tescmecha@yahoo.com
TESC Divest! Press Contact: info@tescdivest.org
Pacific Northwest MEChA Regional Conference Endorses Palestinian BDS Call

Olympia, WA - April 23, 2012 - At the 2012 Pacific Northwest
Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán (MEChA) Regional Conference, chapter leaders voted to endorse the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions aimed at forcing Israel to meet its obligations under international law.  The Pacific Northwest MEChA Conference’s endorsement follows an endorsement made at the 2012 National MEChA Conference held in Phoenix, Arizona. This announcement came on a day that commemorated Cesar Chavez Day and Palestinian Land Day, linking the two liberation struggles against discrimination and oppression.

The Regional Conference was hosted by the Evergreen State College MEChA chapter. Evergreen State College has recently been an epicenter of Palestine solidarity. In 2010, students voted overwhelmingly for divestment from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation, such as Caterpillar, Inc. Caterpillar has been the focus of calls for boycott at Evergreen since the death of Evergreen student Rachel Corrie in Gaza. Corrie was crushed under a Caterpillar D9 weaponized bulldozer operated by the Israeli military as she attempted to non-violently prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home. More recently TESC Divest! launched the We Divest! campaign to pressure investment giant TIAA-CREF to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation, including Caterpillar and Elbit Systems.

MEChA de Evergreen stated that “As a chapter, we endorse and support the global call for BDS... We recognize that our peoples’ historical and present struggles - against deportation, occupation, exploitation, and dehumanization - in Arizona, in the border, and in the United States - not only coincide, but are also connected to Palestinians’ struggle against Israeli military occupation and settlement of Palestine. Elbit, the company that provides surveillance equipment on Israel’s illegal apartheid wall in the West Bank, was also contracted by the U.S. government to perform the same services for the 700-mile militarized Mexico-U.S. border. This is why we believe it is important to build cross-movements between all indigenous peoples’ historical and continuing struggles against colonization, dehumanization, and cultural imperialism.”

TESC Divest! member Austin Nolen also drew a parallel between the Palestinian struggle and indigenous struggles in the Americas, noting that “Companies that TIAA-CREF invests in, like Elbit Systems, profit from the annexation of indigenous lands not only in Palestine, but here as well. TIAA-CREF, which handles the retirement funds of Evergreen faculty, should not force educators to build their futures upon these oppressive structures.”

MEChA de Evergreen members expressed hope that their chapter and Palestine solidarity groups could work closely on future campaigns. MEChA chapter members were present at the national conference’s BDS endorsement, which led them to engage in actions at a local level as well. MEChA de Evergreen invited TESC Divest! members to take part in a teach-in connecting the BDS movement to the struggle against the ethnic studies ban in Tucson, AZ and to the labor struggles of Darigold workers at Ruby Ridge farm in Eastern Washington. MEChA de Evergreen took the initiative as a chapter to support BDS as a region and urge their fellow MEChistas across the nation to do the same.  

MEChA de Evergreen (Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán) is a student organization that strives to expand the definition of Chicanismo to encompass the struggle of not only Mexican- Americans but of those who relate to la causa regardless of nationality. For more information, email tescmecha@yahoo.com.

TESC Divest! is a student-led organization in Olympia, Washington working to end Evergreen State College’s complicity in Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights through the non-violent tactic of divestment. For more information about TESC Divest!, visit www.tescdivest.blogspot.com or email info@tescdivest.org.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Graduate Students at Carleton University Vote to Divest from Occupation!

Amazing, Amazing to hear this.

Carleton is the second university in the world, after The Evergreen State College, to have a student body-wide resolution for divestment pass by a landslide!

We at TESC Divest! are excited to welcome Carleton to the growing club of campuses whose student body are saying NO! to subsidizing occupation and apartheid!

From Students Against Israeli Apartheid - Carleton:

Grad Students Vote to Divest from Israeli Occupation

On March 21st and 22nd, graduate students at Carleton University overwhelmingly voiced their support for the Palestinian people, by voting for the university’s pension fund to divest from four companies that are complicit in the occupation of Palestine. With the vote taking place through a referendum question, all graduate students had the power to make their voices heard, and in the end, over 72% took a principled stance, by voting for Carleton to stand on the side of justice, equality, and accountability.

The referendum question asked students to support Carleton adopting a binding Socially Responsible Investment policy that would require the university to divest from companies complicit in illegal military occupations and other violations of international law, including, but not limited to: BAE Systems, Motorola, Northrop-Grumman, and Tesco Supermarkets. These companies are directly engaged in the subjugation of the indigenous peoples of Palestine, complicit in an illegal military occupation and an apartheid system that operates contrary to the letter and spirit of international law.

In 2008, Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), the group that spearheaded the referendum campaign, was formed at Carleton University. SAIA came together in response to the July 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and recognizes the indigenous Palestinian people's inalienable right to self determination.

The idea of international human rights was a Western-liberal project launched following the atrocities of World War II; the advancement and defense of it has historically been contingent on social and political movements, particularly the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggles that liberated millions from dire and oppressive conditions in the twentieth century. Where nation states have stood by, idle, mute, and therefore complicit, civil society has stepped into the void, and has spoken strongly in favour of the

Now, graduate students at Carleton have voted yes to divestment, and in through this referendum victory – which needs to be formally ratified by the Graduate Student Association council in April – they have said no to lending their tuition and image, as an academic body, to the normalization of military occupation, further entrenched via abhorrent systematic discrimination and other violations of international law.
This marks the first time in the world that a referendum question on divestment has passed on a university campus, and it is one of many results of nearly four years of intensive campaigning by SAIA. The graduate students' will to divest adds further strength to SAIA's growing divestment campaign, which consists of 2500+ petition signatories and the endorsements of over 25 student clubs, academic workers’ unions, and university service centres in an expanding student movement across campus.

Although Carleton's administration has shown little interest in divesting from the aforementioned companies or in adopting a binding mechanism to prevent unethical investments in companies that violate international law, students have spoken out and grad students have voted explicitly in favor of divestment.

A university is an academic institution comprised of a student body; its financial structure is rooted in enrollment and tuition fees. As such, this administration is accountable to the student body, and we do not support profiting at the blatant expense of human rights.
In 1988, the Carleton Anti-Apartheid Action Group forced the university to divest from South African apartheid. We did not stand for South Africa's apartheid system back then; we will not stand for Israel's now. We salute Carleton’s grad students for once again standing on the rights side of history!

The Electronic Intifada notes:

Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at Carleton University hailed the result as a major milestone for their campaign in a statement posted online:
it is one of many results of nearly four years of intensive campaigning by SAIA. The graduate students’ will to divest adds further strength to SAIA’s growing divestment campaign, which consists of 2500+ petition signatories and the endorsements of over 25 student clubs, academic workers’ unions, and university service centres in an expanding student movement across campus.
The statement also said it was a world first however that distinction belongs to Evergreen State College, whose students passed divestment resolutions in a June 2010 referendum. Nonetheless, the Carleton vote is almost certainly the first such result in Canada.

The statement noted that SAIA was formed in 2008 in response to the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. SAIA is working to get the Carleton University administration to divest the institution’s pension funds from firms complicit in Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.

The Carleton vote is a another milestone in divestment activist in Canada. In February the University of Regina Student Union passed a resolution supporting divestment

.. . .

A video released by Carleton SAIA campaigning for divestment explains that an ethical divestment policy will be beneficial not only for Palestinians, but to oppose other human rights abuses around the world.

However, the SAIA statement, noted:
Although Carleton’s administration has shown little interest in divesting from the aforementioned companies or in adopting a binding mechanism to prevent unethical investments in companies that violate international law, students have spoken out and grad students have voted explicitly in favor of divestment.
In 1988, according to the statement, “the Carleton Anti-Apartheid Action Group forced the university to divest from South African apartheid.”

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Seattle LGBT Commission Cancels Pinkwashing Event

 Seattle LGBT Commission Cancels “Pinkwashing” Event Sponsored by Israeli Consulate – Events in Olympia and Tacoma Also Canceled

[16 March 2012] The Seattle LGBT Commission has voted to cancel an upcoming event being sponsored by the Israeli Consulate and right-wing Israel advocacy group Stand With Us. The event, scheduled for March 16th at Seattle City Hall, is part of a west coast tour designed to build ties between the Israeli government and LGBT communities. These connections are forged largely in an attempt to distract from Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine. The practice is otherwise known as “Pinkwashing.”

According to Nada Elia of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, “Pinkwashing is part of ‘Brand Israel,’ an Israeli governmental public relations campaign. This initiative seeks to distract from Israel’s violations of international law and the inalienable human rights of the Palestinians by touting itself as a haven of human rights for LGBTQ people.”

The decision to cancel the event was reached after testimony presented by Palestinian and Jewish LGBTQ community members who were concerned that the Commission chose to align itself with the Israeli government. "The city of Seattle prides itself as holding anti-racism and social justice principles in its mission, and tonight the commission affirmed those values," said Selma al Aswad, a Palestinian-American and LGBTQ rights activist.

The LGBT Commission joins the Oasis and Rainbow Centers of Tacoma and Kitzel’s Delicatessen in Olympia in canceling events scheduled for this week. The events were co-sponsored by Stand With Us, a right-wing Israel advocacy group that is often criticized for anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiments within its official publications and outreach material.

Elizabeth Moore, member of the Olympia chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, stated, “Stand With Us has been behind many attacks within our community, including aiding in the lawsuit against the Olympia Food Co-op. We will not allow them to continue to intimidate and divide our community, and we will not support events that aim to normalize Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”

The organizing around these events was led by a broad array of local activists and organizations throughout the Puget Sound, including local Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) chapters. JVP is the largest national Jewish organization that provides a voice for Jews and allies who believe that peace in the Middle East will be achieved through justice and full equality for both Palestinians and Israelis. With offices in New York and California, 100,000 online activists, chapters across the country and an Advisory Board comprised of numerous prominent Jewish thinkers and artists, JVP supports nonviolent efforts here and in Israel-Palestine to end Israel’s Occupation, expand human and civil rights, and implement a US policy based on international law and democracy. 


Friday, March 16, 2012

GazaOnMyMind and Introducing TESC Divest! T-Shirts!

Tonight was the The Rachel Corrie Foundation's Gaza On My Mind event to honor the life, work, and memory of Rachel on the date of her murder in 2003. TESC Divest! was proud to sponsor the event alongside other amazing organizations BRICK, KAOS, and Shangri-La Intentional Community.

Speakers included Craig and Cindy Corrie, Emmet Whitaker of Corvallis, Oregon, member of Gaza Exchange, Kit Kittredge, passenger on the most recent Free Gaza Flotilla, and musical performances by Richard Lopez.

TESC Divest! also used the occaision to debut our new shirts!

It was an amazing night full of dancing, amazing food, camaraderie, and incredible sense of excitement and solidarity!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

SUPER brings Israeli Apartheid Week to UW!

During the week of February 26-March 3, Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) stood in solidarity with Israeli Apartheid Week. SUPER is a new Registered Student Group at the University of Washington dedicated to raising awareness of Israeli human rights abuses committed against Palestinians and the unequal distribution of rights, resources and and material conditions under which Palestinians suffer.

Members of SUPER tabled through most of the week, educating students and faculty about the Israeli Occupation and US and international corporations who profit from it. They highlighted companies such as Hewlett-Packard which produces products that service illegal checkpoints in the West Bank, Caterpillar whose D9 Weaponized Bulldozers demolish the homes of Palestinian civilians and uproot countless olive groves, and Veolia which will contract to operate a segregated Jewish-Only light rail system connecting annexed East Jerusalem with illegal settlements through a network of Apartheid roads.

They tabling was often accompanied by a Radical Marching Band which provided entertain and levity to the campus and drew in students and other passers-by. 

The week ended with a talk by Alice Rothschild, author of “Broken Promises, Broken Dreams” Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience" and a founder of American Jews for a Just Peace – Boston.

TESC Divest! looks forward to the exciting events being planned by SUPER-UW and we look forward to working closely with our counterparts in Seattle!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Rachel Corrie Foundation Presents Gaza on my Mind

Via The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice:

Join Us to Celebrate the Ninth Anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s Stand for Human Rights in Gaza!

Community Potluck, Featured Speakers, Music and Dancing

Friday, March 16, join other community members at “Gaza on My Mind” to mark the ninth anniversary of Rachel Corrie's stand for human rights in Rafah, Gaza. The commemorative event, an annual project of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, will begin at 6:00 p.m. Location: The Eagles Ballroom, 805 4th Avenue E. in downtown Olympia, WA.

Bring a potluck dish to share.
Beverages and Arab sweets for dessert will be provided!
This event is free to the public. Donations are welcome.

Emmet Whitaker of Corvallis, Oregon, member of Gaza Exchange, will speak of his experiences teaching art in Gaza in 2011, and about the children’s art that has been exchanged between children in Gaza and Corvallis.

Kit Kittredge, Washington state resident, will share her experience on the most recent flotilla to Gaza. In a Democracy Now! interview, Kit noted, “I’ve been to Gaza five times in the last three years. ...and the Palestinian people got to my heart...they were basically saying, 'Tell the world what’s going on. The world doesn’t know. We want peace.' And truly, in my five returns there, that is what I’ve seen them working for.”

Rachel Corrie wrote in 2003, "... This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don't think it's an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop."

Richard Lopez will play a short live performance and, inspired by Rachel, the evening will close with music and dancing hosted by KAOS Radio’s DJ Sy, host of the “Junglee Hour” Saturdays on KAOS.

The event is co-sponsored by Coffee Strong, BRICK, and Shangri-La Intentional Community.

RSVP for the event here !

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

IAW@Evergreen: Students Call for TIAA-CREF to Divest from Occupation!

On Wednesday, February 29th, students at The Evergreen State College stood in unity with Israeli Apartheid Week 2012.

Students stood on Red Square during the lunch hour, holding books about the the Occupied Territories and Palestinian history, blindfolded by the images of the US and Israeli flags. The vigil was called to symbolize the obstacles to education faced by Palestinian students because of the US-funded Israeli military occupation of Palestine.

Greeners also worked to bring attention to the complicity of investment firm TIAA-CREF in human rights abuses committed against Palestinians. Using the vigil as a launching pad, students affiliated with TESC Divest! collected signatures on a petition calling on TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that profit from the occupation. 

The students were "branded" with the logos of war-profiteers that TIAA-CREF invests in, such as Elbit Systems which maintains surveillance systems along the Apartheid wall, Motorola which maintains checkpoints, and Northrop Grumman whose missles were used to attack civilians during Operation Cast Lead, Israelis 2008-09 military offensive in Gaza which left 1,400 non-combatants dead, and Caterpillar, whose D9 weaponized bulldozers are used to demolish Palestinian homes and were used in the 2003 murder of Evergreen senior Rachel Corrie.

TIAA-CREF, which handles the retirement funds for thousands of teachers and college professors across the country, also handles the pension funds for Evergreen faculty. Evergreen professor Larry Mosqueda, a former teacher of Rachel Corrie's, has noted in a TESC Divest video that "Just as South Africa was an apartheid state, Israel is an apartheid state and the people of Palestine shouldn't be exploited anymore." Faculty like Mosqueda, however, are not permitted to invest their pensions in Occupation-free accounts through TIAA-CREF--even through so-called "Socially Responsible" accounts.

The protestors also advertised a screening of "Slingshot Hip Hop", to be screened on campus tomorrow, Thursday, March 1st as part of Israeli Apartheid Week at Evergreen. The documentary is advertised as "the acclaimed film about several Palestinian rap groups in Israel and the Occupied Territories, which follows the struggles these young people face in connecting with each other across Israel's apartheid wall in the West Bank and siege of the Gaza Strip."

More pictures at the TESC Divest! flickr

Monday, February 27, 2012

Olympia Food Co-op wins it's battle for the Right to Boycott!

OFC Supporters standing outside the courtroom.  (Via TESC Divest flickr)

Today at the Thurston County Superior Court, the Olympia Food Co-op won the legal battle to continue it's boycott of Israeli goods as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement! 16 board members of the co-op had been sued by five current and former members of the co-op who attempted to use litigation to force the board to rescind the boycott.

According to a Press Release from the Center for Constitutional Rights, which helped in the OFC's defense:

"In a court hearing last Thursday, lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP argued that the court should grant the defendants’ Special Motion to Strike and dismiss the case because it targeted the constitutional rights of free speech and petition in connection with an issue of public concern.
“We are pleased the Court found this case to be what it is – an attempt to chill free speech on a matter of public concern.  This sends a message to those trying to silence support of Palestinian human rights to think twice before they bring a lawsuit,” said Maria LaHood, a senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights."

Co-op Suppoters rallying in support of OFC

Members of Olympia BDS also released a press release in response to the dismissal of the SLAPP suit:

"Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including several failed candidates for the board of directors, wrote that the coming suit was intended to hamper the Co-op’s ability to participate in the boycott of Israeli goods. The letter, dated May 31, 2011, states in part that “we will bring legal action against you,” and that the execution of the boycott would become “complicated, burdensome, and expensive.” In response, the board of directors reiterated that the proper process for overturning a boycott is a “member-initiated ballot”, and that the opponents of the boycott could put it to a vote of the membership, and Judge McPhee noted that the plaintiffs offered no evidence that they exhausted all manner of challenging boycott.

The opponents of this boycott have had every opportunity to rescind the boycott using the fair and democratic process laid out in the Co-op bylaws,” says Johan Genberg, a longtime co-op member, adding “[The plaintiffs] wanted to punish the store for speaking out for social justice, but isn’t that exactly what makes the Olympia Food Co-op unique? The store reflects the values of this community.”
Farihan Bushnaq, a Co-op member since 1983 adds “as a Palestinian refugee and a member of the Olympia Co-op I wholeheartedly support the boycott, as a way to save Israel from its own excesses, and to end the continued dehumanization of the Palestinian people under Israeli control.”"

Activists with the Palestine Freedom Project and TESC Divest! who livetweeted during the hearing were present when Judge Thomas McPhee affirmed that in his view the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement indeed constituted a "national movement," regardless of the fact that OFC was the first grocery store in the country to adopt the boycott of Israeli goods. (Electronic Intifada).

According to The Olympian, the attorney to the Plaintiff's, who may have to pay up to $10,000 SLAPP suit penalty for each of the 16 board members targeted in the suit, is looking into an appeal.

Update 7:23pm:

Associated Press report via Seattle P-I (Via the Olympia Food Co-op website)

"[Judge Thomas] McPhee ruled that plaintiffs failed to show that the board acted outside of its authority when it enacted the boycott. He also ruled that the 2010 law was constitutional. He also addressed the plaintiffs' contention in its lawsuit that the boycott was not "nationally recognized," as is required under the co-op's boycott policy.
He said that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement or BDS, which supported the boycott, "is a national movement," The Olympian reported. The group supports boycotts to compel Israel to respect Palestinian rights."

Blogger Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam : Olympia Food Coop Wins Anti-SLAPP Motion, Court Dismisses StandWithUs Lawsuit
"In this case, the issue was whether the food coop had the right to ban nine Israeli products from its shelves in support of the globalBDS movement.  This action was taken according to coop rules which permitted the board by concensus to approve this measure. The defendants could’ve requested a vote of the. Entire membership to confirm or reject the board’s decision but refused Togo this route.  The plaintiffs ran for the coop board in the next election on a platform that opposed the board’s BDS decision and lost.
Though five coop members sued the coop itself in this case, the plaintiffs were recruited by the right-wing pro-Israel advocacy group, StandWithUs and Israel’s Northwest Consul General, Akiva Tor.  SWU and the MFA also recruited the lawyers representing the anti-BDS group.  Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, told an Israeli TV news show that the government was using such suits in order to pre-empt what he called efforts to delegitimize Israel internationally.  Thus, today’s court victory is a small, but important victory in the battle to bring Israel’s human rights abuses and illegal Occupation to a broader public audience.  It is a defeat for the Israeli government and its NGO allies who seek to sweep such issues under the rug and use lawfare tactics to battle human rights activists."

Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation posted the news.

Tuesday, February, 28th, 3:12pm
Jewish Voice for Peace hails the news :
"Jewish group hails Olympia Food Coop BDS legal victory
JVP Members play role in successful defense of lawsuit

The Coop victory will resonate far beyond Washington State because it represents a successful blow against a broader pattern of intimidation by advocates for illegal Israeli settlement expansion who use legal mechanisms and boy-who-cried-wolf definitions of anti-Semitism to try to silence free and open debate and obstruct personal choice. A few examples include a lawsuit against former President Jimmy Carter for using the word “Apartheid” in his book title about Israel (http://www.thejc.com/united-states/44571/jimmy-carter-sued-israel-apartheid-book) ; lawsuits at UC Berkeley accusing the school of being anti-semitic (http://www.dailycal.org/2012/02/05/amended-complaint-filed-in-lawsuit-alleging-anti-semitism/ ), and the use of new civil rights legislation changes to make multiple complaints of anti-Semitism http://www.forward.com/articles/149618/ ).
Jewish Voice for Peace and National Lawyer's Guild member attorney Barbara Harvey brought in the Center for Constitutional Rights, which won the case, and assisted in the defense. Further, hundreds of Jewish Voice for Peace supporters from Washington State signed an open letter in defense of the boycott. ""