Tag Archives: BDS

Apartheid in the fields: From occupied Palestine to UK Supermarkets

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Israeli agricultural export companies are profiting from the Israeli colonisation of Palestinian land.

In 2005 a broad coalition of Palestinians made a call for ordinary people all over the world to take action to boycott Israeli goods, companies and state institutions: “We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”

This call has inspired a global solidarity movement aimed at targeting Israeli capitalism in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against oppression. We have compiled articles and interviews with Palestinian agricultural workers and farmers in the West Bank and Gaza, together with information on many of the Israeli exporters and UK supermarkets, as a resource for campaigners seeking to follow this call.

Palestine Solidarity for Families

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Demolition of a home in East Jerusalem, as depicted by a child of the Amro family. The children continue to suffer from anxiety, trauma, and bedwetting following the partial demolition of their home in 2015.

Sodastream, Hewlett Packard, and Barclays Bank have been among a number of key targets of Palestine solidarity activists in the last few years, not to mention G4S, Elbit Systems and EDO MBM. High street supermarkets and and now even the are also facing criticism for their business practises, regarded as undermining Palestinian human rights and being complicit in illegal Israeli occupation.
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Barclays Stock Brokers facilitating investment in the arms trade

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Barclays Bank claims that it is “not an investor in the defence industry” (defence is the euphemism the industry uses to avoid talking about trade in weapons). However, the bank profits from investment in the arms trade through providing its Barclays Stock Brokers service, which facilitates the buying and selling of shares, including shares in arms companies. In one of the options offered by Barclays to its UK customers the bank advertises that: “Barclays Stockbrokers will hold your assets on your behalf”. According to the Barclays Stockbrokers sales team the bank allows its customers to invest in any company they wish in “up to 18 different markets”. Barclays Stock Brokers’ customers are able to trade in whatever company they like, regardless of Barclays stated ethical policies. Continue reading

An interview with Ayah Bashir, BDS activist from Gaza

A longer version interview with Ayah can be viewed here.

An interview with Ayah Bashir from the besieged Gaza Strip about what inspired her to get involved in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS).

In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. A truly global movement against Israeli apartheid is rapidly emerging in response to this call. For more information about the movement see here.

To read more about Ayah and the call for solidarity from Gaza see here.

The interviews were filmed in December 2013.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in Gaza: empowering action

As we write this there is an ongoing massacre in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the operation on July 8, which the Israeli Occupation Forces are calling ‘Protective Edge’, 620 Palestinians have been killed and 3,752 injured according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Over 70% are estimated to be civilians. By the time you read this those figures will be higher and Israel’s bombardment shows no sign of slowing down.

The increasingly big protests that have taken place around the world prove that solidarity with Palestine is growing and that people are ready to stand up to Israeli war crimes. But big demonstrations are not enough. This is the time to intensify action. One way for internationals to do that is to join the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel. The BDS National Committee (BNC) has issued an urgent call for people to take action for Gaza, as well as a renewed call for an immediate arms embargo on Israel.

Brighton demo for Gaza

One of the many demonstrations against Israel’s massacre in Gaza. Photo by Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign

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Open letter to Sainsbury’s shareholders

Corporate Watch urges you to pressure the Sainsbury’s management to listen to the call from Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, to boycott Israeli goods and not to source goods from companies profiting from human rights abuses against Palestinians by operating in Israeli settlements.

In 2005 hundreds of civil society organisations in Palestine called on international civil society to boycott Israeli goods and Israeli companies until the Israeli state’s crimes against Palestinians end. Since then the boycott movement has grown into a powerful global force, which has the capacity to seriously challenge the Israeli state’s attempts to dispossess the people of Palestine from their land.

In 2012 the Cooperative Supermarket became the first major UK retailer to announce that it would not trade with any company that operates in Israel’s illegal settlements.

In September 2013 Sainsbury’s confirmed to Corporate Watch that it sources its goods from several Israeli companies that operate in the settlements: Arava, Mehadrin and Edom.

We are calling on you to help us to convince Sainsbury’s to follow the Cooperative Group’s lead and to stop sourcing from these companies.

Working for poverty wages on land stolen from their families

Israeli agricultural companies operate on land which has been taken from Palestinians by force. Communities, whose livelihood has been decimated by the occupation, have no option but to work for below the minimum wage on land which, in many cases, previously belonged to their families.

Mehadrin source their produce from the Israeli settlement of Beqa’ot. One worker from Beqa’ot told Corporate Watch: “Before the occupation in 1967 Libqya [The Arabic name for the area where Beqa'ot is now situated] was owned by Palestinians who used it for planting crops and raising animals. All of the families around here owned land in Libqya.

“I remember when my mother passed Libqya when I was young she told us how she used to play there with her brothers and sisters. Our family owned 70 dunums of land there.

“This reality is too painful. When I was older I tried to reach the land my mother told me about. But a settler told me I was forbidden to go there”

Paid under the minimum wage

These Israeli companies consistently underpay their workers. Palestinian workers in Israeli settlements have been entitled to the Israeli minimum wage since an Israeli Supreme Court ruling in 2007 (see here). The current hourly minimum wage is 23.12 NIS (New Israeli Shekels),the equivalent of 184.96 NIS for an eight hour working day, having risen from 20.70 NIS in 2009. However, for Palestinian workers on Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley these conditions seem an impossible dream.

In 2010 and 2013 Corporate Watch conducted interviews with settlement workers showing that Palestinians are consistently paid as little as half the minimum wage. Many of our interviewees also reported that children under the age of 16 were employed on the settlements.

The table below outlines our 2013 findings:

Name of settlement Wages reportedly paid Wages paid are below the minimum wage Companies sourcing goods from the settlement Child labour reported Workers complained that they were not allowed to unionise
Beit Ha’arava 65-70 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) Yes Arava, Edom Yes Yes
Beqa’ot 82 NIS (minus 12 NIS deducted for transport) Yes Mehadrin Tnuport (MTEX), Carmel Agrexco, STM Agricultural Exports Yes
Na’ama 65-80NIS Yes Viva, Carmel Agrexco Yes
Kalia Yes Carmel Agrexco
Tomer 70 NIS Yes Edom, Hadiklaim, Agrexco Yes Yes
Massua 80 NIS Yes Mehadrin Tnuport (Mtex) Yes
Vered Yeriho 70 NIS Yes Carmel Agrexco Yes
Argaman 60 NIS Yes Carmel Agrexco, Ada Yes

Arava, Edom and Mehadrin source their products from many of the above settlements. In doing so they are helping to sustain the settlement economy.

Palestinian workers’ views of the companies working in the settlements

Corporate Watch asked the Palestinian workers on Israeli settlements we met about their opinion of the companies working there. The quotes below are illustrative of their views:

It is important for you to tell people that these settlements are illegal and that we don’t have any choice except to work for them… I think it’s important to boycott Israeli products as the settlements are stealing our land and stealing our water. [If the companies in Tomer were to close down it would be] like a dream, inshallah [God willing], it’s freedom for the Palestinian people.”

Mohammed, worker in Tomer

When the settlement economy is destroyed the settlers will leave. They are only here for business.”

Fadi, worker at Beit Ha’arava

They are working on stolen land, using water that they have stolen from us. If the boycott campaign damages these companies then the settlers will leave our land.”

Fares, worker at Beit Ha’arava

We support the boycott even if we lose our work. We might lose our jobs but we will get back our land. We will be able to work without being treated as slaves.”

Zaid, worker at Beqa’ot

The case of Sodastream

Sainsbury’s stocks Sodastream products for making fizzy drinks at home. Sodastream has its main manufacturing facility in the Israeli settlement industrial area of Mishor Adumim. Mishor Adumim was established on land previously occupied by Palestinian Bedouin. The Bedouin occupants were forcibly evicted and forced to settle in an area close to the Jerusalem Municipal rubbish dump. In 2013 Corporate Watch interviewed several people from this community. Here is what one of them said about Sodastream:

“We are not allowed to go near them [the factories]. They took our livelihood to build them and we got evacuated for them to build their factories. After they built them there were no resources to live from for us. The gains are nothing compared to what was lost. They destroyed our lives and then gave a few people a job. It is nothing”.

Sainsbury’s – stop sourcing from occupation profiteers

It is not enough for Sainsbury’s to claim that they do not source goods from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, they should cease sourcing from companies that are profiting from the seizure of Palestinian land and a captive workforce living under occupation. By sourcing products from Arava, Mehadrin, Sodastream and Edom, Sainsbury’s is supporting the settler economy and acting against the wishes of the Palestinian people. We are calling on Sainsbury’s to follow the lead of the Cooperative Supermarket and refuse to buy products from these companies.

This letter has been sent to Sainsbury’s head office

Corporate Watch talk given to All Party Parliamentary Committee on Palestine on Companies Exploiting the Jordan Valley

Joint talk by Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity and Corporate Watch

view at http://www.inminds.com/article.php?id=10503