Tag Archives: protest

ISRAELI EMBASSY ORCHESTRATES TWITTER DEFENCE OF HABIMA

VIDEO MESSAGE FROM MIRIAM MARGOLYES

Israel’s pretence of keeping culture separate from politics has disintegrated in the days leading up the appearance of the flagship theatre company Habima at Shakespeare’s Globe in London on May

No doubt under extreme pressure from the Zionist lobby, the Globe  is imposing unprecedented security measures on audiences on Monday and Tuesday, in a misguided attempt to prevent protesters expressing their outrage at the presence of Habima, which entertains colonists illegally settled on Palestinian land.

Link to video here.

In moves that will make the theatre resemble an Israeli checkpoint, bags “and audience members” will be subjected to “extensive searches”; the audience will be required to check in an hour and a half before the start of the performance and no bags larger than a medium-sized purse will be allowed into the auditorium.

Now evidence has emerged that the Israeli Embassy is instructing Israel’s supporters in the UK on how to use Twitter in Habima’s defence.

In emails circulated to some sections of the Jewish community, the embassy is launching a Twitter campaign using “the hashtag #LoveCulture as it is short enough to fit on a substantial tweet and won’t be taken at first glance as a political statement” (our emphasis).

Suggested hasbara tweets from Tuesday morning onwards include:

Great to see @HabimaTheatre celebrating the Cultural Olympiad @the_globe…all the world’s a stage #LoveCulture

 Fantastic seeing the foremost Hebrew speaking theatre company perform the Merchant of Venice @the_globe #LoveCulture

and, with an ungrateful dig at Conservative MP Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, who has made a point of promising to attend the Israeli cultural ambassadors’ performance on Monday:

 Was great to hear @edvaizey enjoyed watching @HabimaTheatre…did he understand any of it though? #LoveCulture

Those interested in helping the Brand Israel Hasbara effort are invited to email the embassy at this address: pr-asst3@london.mfa.gov.il

For those who, on the other hand, respect the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions and recognise cultural boycott as a legitimate weapon in the non-violent struggle for freedom, justice and equality, we recommend joining a mass protest outside the Globe at 6pm on Monday May 28 and again on Tuesday 29th.

The protest is a joint effort by the full range of Palestinian solidarity organisations including Jews for Justice for Palestinians, J-BIG, the Boycott Israel Network, PSC and many more.

Film maker Ken Loach said in statement before the protests that Habima, in common with other Israeli cultural institutions travelling abroad, was part of Israel’s propaganda campaign.

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

Despite appeals over recent months from Israeli campaigners and many respected UK theatre actors, directors and playwrights, the Globe has declined to respect the Palestinian boycott call aimed at institutions, like Habima, that use culture to legitimise the Israeli state’s infringements of human rights and breaches of international law.

See actors David Calder, Miriam Margolyes and John Davies explaining their support for the  cultural boycott of Israeli National Theatre, Habima.

Join the campaign facebook page.

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SOLIDARITY WITH THE EGYPTIAN PEOPLE

Video of Ahava Demo – 22 January 2011

Despite the Palestine Solidarity Campaign AGM being held, as well as other events going on today, over thirty human-rights demonstrators (plus a few new faces), campaigned, chanted, leafleted and spoke to local residents, shoppers and visitors informing them regarding Ahava’s corporate complicity in violations of international law over the sale of natural resources that are pillaged from illegally occupied territory. More than a few customers decided to impose their own boycott of Ahava after hearing about the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli Government against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

An observation in a previous post entitled The Return of Roberta Moore – that the Zionist Federation-organised counter-demonstration is ‘melting away’ – seems to be coming true. During the first half of today’s picket, no Zionist turned up which demonstrators, the police and even the Israeli security guard employed by Ahava welcomed. Protestors spread out unchallenged in front of the shop and started to leaflet from outside both pens.

Last month, Ahava shop manager Rita made it clear that she considered the Zionists’ presence unwelcome and their behaviour detrimental to Ahava’s trade.  So perhaps Zionist Federation Co Vice-Chair Jonathan Hoffman spent his Saturday in the pub, called it quits and admitted that his Ahava cause is a lost one.

In a new low, only TWO embarrassed-looking Zionist Federation counter-demonstrators eventually turned up which made their cause look even worse (if that’s possible) when compared to the over thirty human-rights demonstrators present who were campaigning for altruism, equality, compassion and freedom, as well as the closure of the illegal settlement company Ahava.

Boycott roundup: Ahava products off the shelves, for now

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 20 January 2011

Boycott activists protest the sale of Ahava products at a US store (Steve Rhodes).

Canadian and United Kingdom solidarity activists have scored recent victories towards deshelving cosmetics made in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CPJME) reported that on 11 January, Canadian retail chain The Bay dropped Ahava products from its stores. Ahava cosmetic products are made from materials from the Dead Sea in the West Bank, assembled in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, and are labeled “made in Israel.”

The company itself is partially owned by Mitzpe Shalem and another settlement, Kalia. An international campaign focusing on the boycott of Ahava products has been making waves across Europe and North America over the last two years.

CPJME stated that The Bay dropped Ahava products because they had not “been meeting expectations,” and that the company had “quietly informed” its customers who had objected to the store stocking Ahava products that they would not continue to do so (“The Bay drops controversial AHAVA products,” 13 January 2011).

However, two days later, The Bay (known also as HBC), issued a joint statement with Canada-based Jewish groups who had immediately protested the retail chain’s decision. The move to drop Ahava products was “solely for commercial reasons,” and that “at no point did political considerations enter into” the decision, the statement claims (“The Bay drops Ahava, but not because of boycott,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency,” 14 January 2011).

The announcement adds that Ahava products will be rebranded and will be back on shelves across Canada by this spring. The Bay “neither subscribes to nor endorses politically-motivated boycotts of merchandise from countries with which Canada has open and established trading relationships, including Israel,” the statement says.

The Stolen Beauty campaign, which has been a key organizer of international boycotts of Ahava products, released an action alert this week encouraging boycott supporters to thank HBC, regardless of its future plans and reasons for stopping its sales of Ahava. “Your message of thanks is crucial as right-wing, pro-occupation groups berate and pressure The Bay to reinstate sales of Ahava,” the alert stated (“Thank you for dropping Ahava products!“).

Nevertheless, The Bay’s decision followed a similar move by British retail chain John Lewis, which had publicly announced on 7 January that it has stopped stocking and selling Ahava products.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign issued a press release welcoming John Lewis’ decision, and reprinted part of a letter drafted by the company to the activist group (“John Lewis stops stocking Ahava products in Britain,” 14 January 2011).

Andy Street, John Lewis’ managing director, wrote: “As a socially responsible retailer, John Lewis takes very seriously the treatment of workers and their working conditions. We expect all our suppliers not only to obey the law, but also to respect the rights, interests and well-being of their employees, their communities and the environment … In relation to your specific enquiry about Ahava Dead Sea products, I can confirm that John Lewis has ceased stocking these particular products.”

Sarah Colborne, director of operations with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, stated that Ahava and other companies that profit from Israel’s illegal occupation are being sent a clear message by consumers.

“Although governments, including our own, are failing to end Israel’s violations of international law and human rights, we can all take action by refusing to buy Israeli goods and joining the movement for [boycott, divestment and sanctions],” Colborne said. “The [Palestine Solidarity Campaign] will continue to ensure that companies which profit from Israel’s occupation pay the price for their complicity in Israel’s crimes.”

Meanwhile, across the world, solidarity activists continue to campaign with the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Ireland artist join boycott pledge

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) announced that two hundred Irish artists have signed onto its Israel boycott pledge, with singer-songwriter Dylan Walshe joining as the latest signatory.

IPSC launched its national campaign in August 2010 in an effort to encourage Irish cultural workers to “avail of any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel, nor to accept any funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights (“Irish artists’ pledge to boycott Israel reaches 200 signatories,” 13 January 2011).”

Walshe joins high-profile Irish artists who have committed to the boycott, such as actor Stephen Rea and musician Christy Moore. Raymond Deane, IPSC Cultural Boycott Officer and contributor to The Electronic Intifada, stated in the press release that “[a]s the Israeli state becomes ever more racist, expansionist and oppressive, we have seen the growth in its isolation by international civil society through the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

Deane, who is also a composer and himself a signatory to the pledge, added, “[t]he success of this boycott pledge is indicative of wider feelings toward Israel, both in Ireland and around the world. Indeed, similar pledges and initiatives are being organized in many other countries.”

Boycott of Israel Philharmonic’s US tour urged

Palestine-based activists with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a statement on 16 January calling for US solidarity groups to boycott the upcoming American tour of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, scheduled for February (“Boycott the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra on its US Tour!,” 16 January 2011).

PACBI said the orchestra is scheduled to perform in Palm Beach, New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. “We urge activists to continue the principled tradition of activists in New York and Los Angeles in 2007, when they protested the [orchestra’s] appearance in their cities,” states the press release.

“As befits an institution that identifies with the Israeli state, the [Israel Philharmonic] proudly announces its partnership with the army under a scheme whereby special concerts for Israeli soldiers are organized at their army outposts,” PACBI adds. “The orchestra has lent itself to the official Israeli propaganda campaign titled Brand Israel, which aims to divert attention from Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights to its artistic and scientific achievements.”

PACBI encourages boycott activists in the US to protest and boycott the orchestra’s concerts, saying that as long as it continues to partner with the Israeli government in “planning, implementing and whitewashing war crimes and international law violations,” Israel’s cultural establishment “cannot be exempted from the growing boycott movement.”

Israeli activists initiate boycott campaigns

Activists with the Israeli group Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call From Within (BFW) drafted a letter to British Telecom (BT) on 18 January, calling for the company to cut ties with the Israeli telecommunications company Bezeq International (“Boycott From Within’s letter to BT,” 18 January 2011).

In January 2010, BT incorporated Bezeq International, a subsidiary of Bezeq Israel, into its Global Alliance. The Bezeq corporation provides telecommunication services to illegal Israeli settlement colonies in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Thousands of British customers of BT have already joined a campaign calling for the companies to cut ties.

“We are saddened and dismayed by your company’s complicity in severe breaches of international law and the violation of human rights through your relationship with Bezeq International, and call on you to end this relationship at once,” states the activists’ letter. “By partnering with Bezeq, [British Telecom] is supporting the infrastructure which enables illegal Israeli settlements, built in violation of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, to exist,” the letter adds.

“We maintain that such willful blindness to Israeli crimes is not only immoral, but is also in contrast to [British Telecom’s] fiduciary responsibility to its investors, as it may put the company’s high-regard in the international community at risk.”

Meanwhile, BFW activists say they helped play a key role in the recent decision by French pop star Vanessa Paradis to cancel a planned concert in Tel Aviv.

After the group drafted a letter urging Paradis and her partner, American film icon Johnny Depp, to cancel their upcoming visit, the singer announced on 15 January that her performance was cancelled.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that insiders close to the star claimed that Paradis “acceded to calls to cancel the show made by Palestinian solidarity groups” (“Did pop star Paradis cancel Israel concert over politics?,” 16 January 2011).

BFW activists have launched a similar campaign directed at American singer Macy Gray, who this week posted on her Facebook page that she was considering canceling her performance in Tel Aviv due to Israel’s “disgusting” treatment of Palestinians.

“I’m getting alot [sic] of letters from activists urging/begging me to boycott by NOT performing in protest of Apartheid against the Palestinians,” Gray posted on her page.

Activists with BFW stated that “[c]oming to perform in Israel has become a political act, a statement of support for the State of Israel’s ongoing crimes and human rights violations. It is also an act against a rapidly growing nonviolent, human-rights based civil society Palestinian movement (“Macy Gray, Performing in Israel is Already Political – Stand for Human Rights and Cancel!“).”

Photo Essay: Remembering Israel’s War on Gaza Vigil – 27 Dec 2010, London

video courtesy of Seymour Alexander

video courtesy of Harry Fear