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The following press release from the ‘We Divest Coalition’ reflects how seriously many Zionists take the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) campaign.

If the recent case heard in London is anything to go by, the legal fraternity is ruling increasingly in favour of the right of individuals and companies to express their opposition to the Palestinian Occupation through this non-violent avenue, and it’s hard to imagine any court forbidding shareholders the right to vote on a matter of company policy.  Even so, the question is whether the threat of legal action will be sufficient to intimidate the company into taking the BDS proposal off the agenda.

Father Dave

Israel Law Center Threatens Suit Against TIAA-CREF
If It Doesn’t Deny Vote To Shareholders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2013

Press Contact: info@wedivest.org…

Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF is seeking permission from the Security and Exchange Commission to allow it to deny shareholders the opportunity to vote on what would be the largest Israel/Palestine referendum to date in the United States. The resolution, filed by 200 CREF shareholders, urges TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that substantially contribute to or enable egregious violations of human rights, including companies whose business supports Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.

It was recently disclosed that CREF is being threatened with a lawsuit by Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) if CREF should submit the shareholder proposal for a democratic vote. Shurat HaDin claims that the resolution violates U.S. and New York state anti-boycott laws even though these laws have no application to human rights-inspired boycotts or to divestment resolutions. These peaceful forms of political pressure, central to the U.S. civil rights movement, have long been understood to be protected by the First Amendment’s free speech provision.

Shurat HaDin is using a practice known as “lawfare.” This is a tactic of intimidation, using threats of legal action to coerce students, and now also TIAA-CREF, to refrain from using democratic processes to resolve issues. Shurat HaDin seeks to bar discussion of the serious human rights abuses associated with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. It is deeply disappointing to see TIAA-CREF embrace that same perspective.

Steve Tamari, a Palestinian-American educator and member of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, on behalf of hundreds of CREF filers who signed onto the resolution said:
“TIAA-CREF has not only ignored our moral concerns, but now refuses to let us vote or have any voice on the issue. We are hundreds of investors who are deeply troubled that we are forced to support segregation and other abhorrent human rights violations in order to maintain our retirement accounts.”

We Divest Campaign National Coordinator Rabbi Alissa Wise said:
“As in earlier campaigns to end human rights abuses by Sudan, South Africa, and the southern U.S., shareholders should be able to vote on whether their company should be profiting from Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Commitment to such shareholder participation is assumed in a company, such as CREF, that is proud of its corporate transparency and democratic governance.”

We Divest National Coordinating Committee member, Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY said:
“This resolution is one example of dozens of such discussions taking place in conferences, corporate meetings, and on campuses around the country. The Methodists and Presbyterians have voted on resolutions similar to the one CREF shareholders filed. Student governments are taking up this question on campuses across the country. What is it that TIAA-CREF is so afraid of?”

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Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel is attracting new supporters all the time and will go on until Palestine is free. Hassan

 

Emma Thompson backs Israel boycott for Shakespeare festival

By Jennifer Lipman, April 2, 2012

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Emma Thompson

British Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson has added her name to a list of high-profile figures in the arts world calling on the Globe Theatre to cancel its invitation to an Israeli company to next month’s Cultural Olympiad event.

Israel’s national theatre company, Habima, was invited to stage one of 37 Shakespeare plays in foreign languages as part of the Globe to Globe festival.

Habima will perform The Merchant of Venice, while during the six-week festival the Ramallah-based Ashtar Theatre will put on an Arabic version of Richard II.

The invitation to the Israeli company had already raised concerns of disruption in the manner of the anti-Israel protests during the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s Proms performance last year. In January activists from Boycott From Within, formed by Israelis who back the boycott movement, urged Globe directors to stop the performance. The Globe said "active exclusion was a profoundly problematic stance to take".

Now 37 people have signed a letter calling for Israel to be removed from the roster, including the prominent Jewish anti-Israel activists Miriam Margolyes, David Aukin, Jonathan Miller and Mike Leigh. Also on the list is the star of the play Jerusalem, Mark Rylance.

Writing that Habima should be boycotted because it had performed in Israeli settlements, the signatories said: "By inviting Habima, Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law."

The signatories said they had no problem with the Globe including a Hebrew – language performance. "But by inviting Habima, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company," they said. "We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land."

The writers added that "Inclusiveness" is a core value of arts policy in Britain, and we support it."

Earlier this year the Globe said Habima was "the most well-known and respected Hebrew-language theatre company in the world" and so "a natural choice to any programmer wishing to host a dramatic production in Hebrew".

"They are committed, publicly, to providing an ongoing arena for sensible dialogue between Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians."

The letter provoked a response from Professor Geoffrey Alderman, who said: "The activities of the Habima theatre company in connection with the Israeli communities that live in these areas is therefore entirely legitimate."

Speaking to the JC last year, Rut Tonn of the Habima Theatre said it was a blessing that Israelis and Palestinians could take part. "We are always looking for collaborations which will help with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Originally published in The Jerusalem Chronicle