May 26, 2012 – Statement from Ken Loach on Israeli National Theatre

January 21, 2012 – Omar Barghouti’s speech to PSC AGM

Nov 13, 2011 – Leaflet outlining threat posed to Palestinian BDS campaign by the ideas of Gilad Atzmon.

Nov 5, 2011 – J-BIG letter to Manchester University on Finkelstein tour

June 22, 2011 – UEFA campaign

May 26, 2012 – Statement from Ken Loach on Israeli National Theatre

STATEMENT BY KEN LOACH, FILM-MAKERThe supporters of Habima, the Israeli theatre company, miss the point. The presence of Habima at the Globe is unacceptable because the company is complicit in the crimes thatIsraelis committing against Palestinians and because it presents itself not as an independent company of artists but as representing the state.

Its general manager said the Globe’s invitation is an ‘honorable accomplishment for the state of Israel in general’.
Habima is funded by the Israeli state. Its artistic director says they ‘have to perform all over the country’, including the illegal settlements. ‘We have to go, otherwise there is no financial support’.

These performances attempt to normalize the unacceptable, the occupation of land that belongs to the Palestinians. This complicity makes a mockery of Habima’s claim to freedom in its work.

When artists or performers apply for state funding to take part in
international events they accept to become part ofIsrael’s propaganda campaign. They sign a contract which says they are aware that the purpose is to ‘promote the policy interests of the state ofIsrael via culture and art, including contributing to a positive image forIsrael’.

This positive image would no doubt deny the apartheid nature of Israel, its repeated breaches of international law and the Geneva Convention, its destruction of Palestinian homes, its cruel and degrading treatment of Palestinian children arrested for throwing stones… the catalogue of Israeli brutality is a long one.

We should listen to the Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai, who wrote:

‘I do not believe that a state that maintains an occupation, committing on a daily basis crimes against civilians, deserves to be invited to any kind of cultural event’.

Ken Loach


January 21, 2012 –  Omar Barghouti’s speech to PSC AGM

(NB – This is a set of notes received from the speaker after the AGM)

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign today is the finest and most effective Palestine solidarity group anywhere in the world. A warm salute to PSC and all its chapters and members for a job very well done. With its emphasis on the rights of all Palestinians, not just those of us in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territory, PSC has distinguished itself from many other solidarity groups that had to struggle with this basic concept of solidarity with the oppressed.

Today, there is a sense of critical urgency in solidarity with Palestine, as Israel has embarked on a new phase in its ongoing crusade to disappear the Palestinian “problem” through literally disappearing the Palestinians. Ethnic cleansing, colonial expansion, killings and house demolitions, the wall, the fatal, even genocidal siege of Gaza and the continuous denial of refugee rights have all reached a new, intense chapter whereIsraelis awash with colonial arrogance, buttressed by criminal impunity afforded to it by deeply complicit Western government and institutions. Thus BDS. At its most basic level, BDS calls for ending partnership in crime, ending complicity in the perpetration, justification and whitewash of Israel’s grave violations of Palestinian rights. That is not heroic. Withdrawing support for an evil policy or system, as Martin Luther King describes the boycott, is not heroic; it is a profound moral obligation.

Solidarity with Palestine means, above everything else, supporting the Palestinian right to self determination, which entails listening to Palestinian voices and heeding their appeals, as expressed through their civil society organisations. Today, solidarity with Palestine cannot but include support for BDS as the most popular and one of the most effective forms of peaceful, civil struggle for Palestinian rights.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign began with the Palestinian civil society call in 2005. There were many boycott or divestment initiatives years before the BDS Call, including PSC’s Boycott Israeli Goods campaign, but BDS is the specific name of the call issued by the great majority of Palestinian civil society on 9 July 2005, which though rooted in decades of Palestinian and international boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel constitutes a qualitatively new phase in the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and in international solidarity with Palestinian rights.

In the BDS movement, we must be careful not to confuse principles with tactics.

The main principles of BDS are Freedom, Justice, Equality, embodied in the three basic demands of the BDS call which are the minimum to achieve self-determination – right of return, end of 1967 occupation and colonization, as well as equality for the indigenous Palestinians inside Israel. No part of the Palestinian people can be ignored. Anyone claiming to be in solidarity with the Palestinian people cannot be satisfied with ending the 1967 occupation alone while ignoring the basic rights of the rest of the Palestinian people, as that would address most of the rights of a mere one third of the Palestinian people, sidelining the basic, UN-sanctioned right of the great majority of the people of Palestine.

BDS tactics are based on three operational principles: context-sensitivity, sustainability, and gradualness. The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian civil society alliance that leads the global BDS movement, defers to partners in any international context deciding the BDS targets and campaign tactics that are most suitable for their particular context. BDS is about accumulating victories and widening support for Palestinian rights in a big-tent movement that is anchored in international law and universal principles of human rights. Aside from respect for these key principles, which are inherently anti-racist, ideological and political considerations should not hinder the spread of BDS into the mainstream around the world.

While our basic rights under international law are inalienable and non-negotiable, our means to realize them and the methods through which the movement of international solidarity supports our struggle to realize them are tactical and dependent on context, political alliances, awareness, among other variables.

BDS is not a “leftist” agenda, as such, though leftists are obviously expected to support it. At its core, it is based on upholding human rights principles and international law, both of which should be endorsed by any self-respecting (morally-consistent) liberal, not just by progressives.

Our analysis of Israel’s regime of multi-tiered oppression against the Palestinian people is fundamental – settler-colonialism, occupation, apartheid. Many analysts maintain that Israel’s regime of oppression is in fact worse than apartheid. While true, this does not refute that it also includes forms of apartheid, a crime well defined under international law, based on the 1973 International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 2002 Statute of the International Criminal Court, both of which define apartheid in terms that apply to part of Israel’s regime of oppression.

BDS is a universalist movement that categorically opposes all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. This is not negotiable. We should never welcome racists in our midst, no matter what.

Equating Israel with “the Jews” is unacceptable and is, in fact, anti-Semitic. Only Zionists and Nazis do that.  Nazis say Jews are sub-human, Zionists say they are superhuman; both agree that they are not a normal part of the human species, and that is clearly racist. Claiming that a boycott of Israel is anti-Semitic because it is equivalent to a boycott of “the Jews” assumes that Israel and “the Jews” are one and the same. This implies that Jews are one monolithic sum who think alike and are all collectively equivalent to Israel and responsible forIsrael. If this is not anti-Semitic, I am not sure what is! Jews, like any other human group, have diversity and differences. Many of the leaders of the BDS movement in the West are Jewish intellectuals, academics, feminists, students, activists. Many of them support the struggle for Palestinian rights through BDS not just out of a deep-rooted sense of international solidarity and moral obligation but also based on their insistence that Israel, a colonial apartheid state does not and should not speak in their names.

BDS is on the verge of its South Africa moment. With the beginnings of divestment in the US, you can almost smell it. We have had huge successes, such as Alstom’s recent loss of a $9.4 bn Saudi contract and Veolia’s continuing losses of contracts (now standing at more than $12 bn), especially in the UK and Ireland. Many thanks to the anti-Veolia campaign in the UK, led by PSC chapters. The University of Johannesburg’s severance of ties with an Israeli university implicated in human rights violations and the spread of the cultural boycott to prominent musicians and other artists have also led many to sense the South Africa moment.

The need now is FOCUS, to take the campaign into the mainstream, with the UK andSouth Africa leading. We cannot expect all our campaigns to achieve concrete results in a few months; we need to think long term, to strategize, to build broad alliances and to build awareness throughout the process.

A key factor to take into consideration in mainstreaming BDS is the need to highlight and strengthen the ties between the struggle for Palestinian rights and the global struggles for social and economic justice, for freedoms, for equal rights, against racism, for immigrant rights, for the environment, for LGBT rights, etc. We must recognize and convey to the mass public in our campaigns how Israel’s expansionist and belligerent agenda fits right at the center of the agenda of the 1%, the “Perpetual Wars Inc.” agenda that thrives on ongoing armed conflicts, imperial pillage, racism at home, deterioration of social and economic conditions for the 99% of societies. Israel’s wars and colonial endeavours are good business for the Western 1%, the military industries, the homeland security businesses, the oil companies, the banks and financiers, etc. The Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, on the other contrary, is today at the core of the global social movement and its struggle for jobs, affordable housing, health care, environmental sanity, equality and dignified living.

The 1% of the world are already united; it is high time for us, the 99%, to unite. It is not a nicety but a necessity. Without unity among our ranks, we cannot overcome their agenda.

Some key targets:

1)     Israeli Apartheid Week in schools and colleges

2)     Military Embargo against Israel. This is part of the Occupy/Arab Spring agenda, a demand for the 99% vs. the 1%

3)     Churches, using the Kairos Palestine document and the more recent Bethlehem Call for reaching out to churches and campaigning for divestment and boycott initiatives

4)     Parliament, building on the call from top EU diplomats inJerusalemto ban financial dealings with Israel’s colonial settlements, all of which are illegal, or with any “actor” that supports the settlement enterprise

5)     StoptheJNF

6)     Derail/Dump/Bin Veolia and Alstom campaign must intensify-fighting the North London Veolia bid is key

7)     World Social Forum-FreePalestineinBrazil, Nov 2012

8)     Trades Union consumer boycott campaigns. Consider promoting “Ethical Bags for Life” as a way to apply moral pressure on consumers (particularly the millions of trade union members) not to put any products of complicit companies in their bags

9)     Keffiyah Days: reclaim the keffiyah as a symbol of the Palestinian struggle, indeed of the global struggle for freedom and rights



Dear Martin Conway,

As a Jewish organisation that is co-sponsoring the UK speaking tour by Professor Norman Finkelstein, we would appreciate your explanation for interfering with plans for his lecture on the Israel-Palestine conflict at University Place on November 8, forcing it to be relocated off-campus.

It seems that you responded to pressure from the Jewish Society by issuing an ultimatum to the organisers of the lecture, requiring them to deny access to non-students.

This would be to deny members of the public a rare opportunity to hear and to question one of the foremost commentators on Israel-Palestine.

Prof Finkelstein is a renowned and outspoken Jewish American academic, the son of Holocaust survivors and a critic of Israel.

His work straddles political theory, the Israel-Palestine conflict and American policy towards the Middle East. He has authored six important books including Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the Abuse of HistoryImage and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering.

Prof Finkelstein has been at the centre of a storm of controversy about academic freedom in the United States. In 2007 an award of tenure and promotion at the University of DePaul was overturned after enormous outside pressure from the Israel lobby.

The following year he was invited to lecture at California State University, Northridge, which then, resisting a vitriolic campaign targeting the university as well as Finkelstein himself, offered him a post. This was vetoed by the CSUN president despite testimonials from eminent scholars.

Khaled Abou El Fadl, Professor of Law at UCLA wrote:

“To describe Professor Finkelstein as a towering intellectual figure—masterful, brilliant, meticulously methodical, precise, eloquent, and exceedingly gracious and polite—does not begin to describe him as a writer and lecturer. . .”

There is no record of previous lectures by Prof Finkelstein presenting any risk to people of Jewish origin. JSOC members’ allegations that the safety of Jewish students would be endangered if the public were allowed in were clearly disingenuous since they had made clear their own intention to attend and hold a picket.

The JSoc does not represent all of Jewish opinion and to suggest that all Jews share one view on this or any other issue is profoundly insulting. The JSOC protest was based upon either hysteria or a desire to suppress unwelcome opinions, neither of which should form the basis for decisions by an institution of learning.

As campaigners for Palestinian rights we are well aware of Israel’s persistent suppression of dissent, often carried out with force of arms, including attacks upon Palestinian cultural festivals and institutions.

It is alarming that in the UK a respected university should collude with Zionist attempts to limit open discussion of Prof Finkelstein’s views on campus.

We look forward to your response.

Actions you can take in support of the campaign to get UEFA to move its 2013 Under-21 football competition from Israel, launched on June 22, 2011.

 * Distribute and post the letter from Gaza

* Join and share the campaign Facebook page

* Tell UEFA what you think of their support for Israeli Apartheid via their Twitter (@UEFAcom) and Facebook

Sample messages include:

.@UEFAcom Allowing Israel to host 2013 U21 tournament supports #apartheid #redcardapartheid #bds

.@UEFAcom Don’t score own goal by whitewashing apartheid #bds #redcardapartheid

.@UEFAcom says respect is principle of football, so will it respect Palestinian #bds call? #redcardapartheid

* Write to UEFA President Michel Platini using this simple e-tool

* Circulate the letter and this call to all of your contacts and groups

* Write to your local football association, players, clubs and fanzines about the campaign.

Here is a model letter which you can amend to fit your own requirements.

Dear xx (football club, fan club, magazine, player, manager, coach etc)

As a committed football supporter I’m writing to ask you to lend your name to a campaign on behalf of every football-crazy Palestinian child, dreaming of playing the beautiful game but trapped by the daily reality of life under Israeli domination.

In September 2010 UEFA President Michel Platini publicly denounced Israel, which illegally occupied the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967, for preventing Palestinian footballers from playing and competing. But in January this year UEFA awarded the 2013 under-21 finals to Israel.

Dozens of Palestinian sporting clubs, organisations and individuals have written to UEFA urging it not to “reward Israel for its violent repression of Palestinian rights.” See the letter here

They are calling on football associations, clubs and personalities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to endorse their appeal. Hence my letter to you.

The appeal describes how footballers Ayman Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshate were among over 1,400 Palestinians killed during the Israeli assault on Gaza in winter 2008-09, when whole districts were leveled including the Rafah National Stadium.

Israel’s main Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv stands on land seized in 1950 from the Palestinian villages of Jarisha and al-Jammasin al-Sharqi. Sixty years later the villagers remain refugees, denied their UN-sanctioned right to return to their homes.

Thousands of Palestinians are detained without trial in Israel, among them national team member Mahmoud Kamel As-Sarsak.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said the suffering of Palestinians in the occupied territories reminded him of the treatment of blacks in segregated South Africa under apartheid.

“I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about,” he said.

As with that earlier anti-apartheid campaign, many public figures have come outin support of boycott, divestment and sanctions on behalf of the Palestinian people.

Would you lend your name to the Palestinian appeal to UEFA urging them to withdraw the 2013 under-21 finals from Israel?

If you were also to encourage others you know to follow suit, it could make a decisive difference, giving hope and encouragement to thousands of young Palestinians currently denied the kind of aspiration that drives those who love the game of football.

Please let us know as soon as possible if you are willing to endorse this campaign.

I look forward to hearing from you. My contact details are below.

Yours sincerely,

(your personal signature and contact details)