Australia is hardly a key player in the struggle for Palestinian freedom and dignity, and yet the battle to silence proponents of the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ campaign against the government of Israel (BDS) is as virulent here as anywhere in the world!

As Dr Lynch of Sydney University discovered, invoking the BDS opens a Pandora’s box of media fury, and images of the Holocaust and the history of anti-Semitism are invoked in order to demonize BDS proponents! It will be a happy day when the BDS campaign is assessed on its own merits but I don’t see that happening any time soon!

Father Dave

Dr Jake Lynch

Dr Jake Lynch


BDS campaign questions academics’ courage

By Stuart Rees

At the end of last year, The Australian newspaper spent days deriding Dr. Jake Lynch, Director of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies whose governing Council supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the government of Israel. Consistent with his colleagues’ stance, Lynch refused to host an Israeli Professor, Don Avnon from Hebrew University, in his efforts to spend time at Sydney University examining civics teaching. Lynch’s principled refusal was positive about Avnon’s search but explained why he could not support the Israeli academic’s request.

This controversy raises two issues concerning professionals’ standards and responsibilities. The first concerns what passes for journalism. The second highlights the responsibilities of all academics in regard to human rights.

In attacking Dr. Lynch, journalists for The Australian demonised supporters of BDS and described the opponents of the campaign as full of sweetness and light. Such polarisation encouraged attacks from the blogosphere and from conservative politicians, such as Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop, whom the newspaper knew they could rely on to endorse any view that defended Israeli policies.

Instead of the attack technique, the journalists could have analysed the BDS campaign and the extent of its support across Europe, North America and Africa. They could have explained that the rationale behind the boycott of academic institutions involves the complicity of a nation in the occupation of Palestine, in the continued siege of Gaza, the stealing by settlers of Palestinian lands and the decades of containment in camps of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.

Complicity also involves privileged institutions, such as universities. However meritorious certain individual academics might be, the non-cooperation policy makes for no exceptions and some Israeli academics fully understand and accept that principle. To do otherwise is to pretend that Israel remains a normal country despite policies towards Palestinians . The BDS challenges claims about such normality.

That allegedly progressive Israeli academics are penalised by this boycott is part of the controversy. But the literature suggests that most Israeli academics are concerned with their own careers and turn a blind eye to the cruel policies of their State.

A more important point is that scholars such as Professor Avnon, work in privileged organisations, are free to travel and can enhance their prestige by attending other universities around the globe. By contrast, Palestinian academics and students have few resources, experience only containment and few chances to study overseas. The Israel High Court has even forbidden Gaza students from studying in West Bank universities.

In addition to the ‘ we always know’, ‘ we like to vilify’ techniques of some journalists from The Australian, questions also need to be raised about the responsibilities of Australian academics. It is misleading to perceive the controversy concerning Sydney University’s Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies as only about the supposed Lynch/ Avnon affair.

Many academics are interested in human rights, teach such a subject and even obtain human rights oriented research funds. But unless they make the link between theory and practice, they are, in the prophetic words of the American social scientist Robert Lynd, ‘Lecturing on navigation while the ship is going down.’

In the face of continuous human rights abuses affecting Palestinians, the time comes for citizens to find other ways to address these issues. The BDS movement provides one of the hopeful ‘other ways’.

For the rest of this article:…


A simple but valuable contribution to the BDS campaign

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Gush Shalom

Gush Shalom press release, Dec. 4, 2012 (…)

Boycotting settlement products is a democratic right and a legitimate expression of political views, which should not be outlawed

Tomorrow (Wednesday, December 5, 2012) at 9:00 am, The Supreme Court in Jerusalem will hear the appeal filed by Gush Shalom against the “Boycott Law” which prohibits calling for a boycott of settlement products. The panel would be headed by Asher Grunis, President of the Supreme Court, and also include his colleagues Salim Jubran and Esther Hayut.

Gush Shalom will be represented by the attorneys Gaby Lasky, Neri Ramati and Limor Goldstein. They will ask the court to issue an order nisi, freeze the application of the law and preventing lawsuits against those calling for a boycott of the settlements, pending the end of the proceedings. They will also seek to transfer the appeal to a broader panel of judges, due to the basic constitutional issues involved.

The “Boycott Law”, passed in the Knesset a year and a half ago, allows the settlers and their supporters to file heavy claims for damages against anyone making a call for a boycott of settlement products. Likud Knesset Member Ze’ev Elkin presented this law as one of his main parliamentary achievements, in a propaganda disseminated recently during in the Likud primaries. In practice, however, not a single such damage claim has as yet been filed.

The Gush Shalom movement made a public call for a boycott of settlement products some ten years ago, and has published a detailed list of settlement products which its activists kept updating. At the time, settler leaders and right-wing Knesset Members made harsh statements against Gush Shalom.

And precisely after the law was passed in the Knesset, other groups made high profile calls for boycott of the settlements, including “Peace Now” which set up a Facebook page entitled “Prosecute me, I boycott settlement products.” Also peace activist Naftali Raz, editor of the online news site “On the Left Side” organized a petition signed by hundreds of people, making an explicit call to boycott settlement products. However, so far the settlers and their supporters did not take up the gauntlet.

“It’s probably not by chance that they do not start proceedings under this law, and neglect to go through the legal doors thrown wide open for them. They probably realize that attempting to attack peace activists through their pockets will work against them, and that even if they won in court they would lose in the court of public opinion,” says Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson. “Nevertheless, this stain of anti-democratic legislation, violating the freedom of expression and of political activity, should be removed from the law books of the State of Israel. Individuals and organizations who consider the settlements to be illegal and immoral, constituting a serious threat to our future, have the right not to finance these settlements by buying their products. Those who wish to avoid buying settlement products are also entitled to do so in public and in an organized way.”

Keller added: “The boycott law created a situation of intolerable discrimination in Israeli law. Everybody may boycott anybody else – anybody but the settlers, who have immunity. It is allowed to boycott cottage cheese and other consumer goods in order to pressure producers to reduce their prices; such a boycott is praised – and rightly so – as an expression of civic involvement. Vegetarians and animal lovers may boycott fur or restaurants which serve meat, and observant Jews may boycott anyone who sells non-kosher food. Not only is this last permitted, but the Chief Rabbinate and City Rabbinates make generous use of public funds to run ads, publishing the names and addresses of shops and restaurants and urging the public not to go there – with the express purpose of hurting the livelihood of the owners and force them to follow every dictate of the religious establishment. Boycotts of all types and kinds are allowed by law – except for advocating a boycott of the settlements. We hope that the Court is will declare this blatant discrimination an unacceptable undermining of the foundations of democracy. “

“Tthis court session, on a date set a long time ago , takes place just as the settlements issue gets to the top headlines, not only in Israel but throughout the world. Right now, this issue causes a serious diplomatic crisis between Israel and the European countries of whose support Netanyahu boasted just two weeks ago. Since 1967, the issue of the settlements determinee to a great degree whether we will live in peace or at war, and in that also defining the conditions for any socio-economic policy, and what resources would be available for this.”


Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson 054-2340749

Adv. Gaby Lasky 054-4418988

Adv. Nery Ramati 050-8648854


 This is encouraging! The BDS Campaign (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) is gaining ground! I do believe this is our greatest hope for a non-violent resolution to Israel/Palestine. Dave

source: Greek Diplomat: EU Mulling Ban of Settlement Goods, 8 September 2012 Saturday 11:4

Greek Diplomat: EU Mulling Ban of Settlement Goods

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Official says EU discussing total ban on settlement goods, or special labels for goods made in communities beyond Green Line

The European Union is considering instituting a ban on imports of products made in Israeli settlements, a Greek Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying to a group of Israeli and Palestinian journalists in Athens on Friday

According to multiple Israeli media reports, the Greek diplomat, speaking to reporters during a Geneva Initiative seminar in the Greek capital, said that EU nations were currently holding discussions on the issue. Among moves being considered were a total import ban on settlement goods or the implementation of special labels for goods made in communities beyond the Green Line, such as South Africa adopted last month

Channel 10 quoted the official as saying the EU Executive Commission would likely make a decision on the issue next month

Last month, the South African government approved “requiring the labeling of goods or products emanating from IOTs (Israel Occupied Territories) to prevent consumers being led to believe that such goods come from Israel.This is in line with South Africa’s stance that recognizes the 1948 borders delineated by the United Nations and does not recognize occupied territories beyond these borders as being part of the State of Israel.

The Foreign Ministry issued a harsh statement following South Africa’s decision, saying that the measure adopted was unprecedented and constituted “blatant discrimination based on national and political distinction. This kind of discrimination has not been imposed – and rightly so – in any other case of national, territorial or ethnic conflict. Israel and South Africa have political differences, and that is legitimate. What is totally unacceptable is the use of tools which, by essence, discriminate and single out, fostering a general boycott.”


Father Roy writes: Peers,please read my highlight in the first paragraph of the post pasted below.  All the rest is commentary.Peace,Roy+… 

2 August 2012

Roger Waters and BDS: Moral Courage and Unwavering Commitment to Human Rights

 “Where governments refuse to act people must, with whatever peaceful means are at their disposal. For me this means declaring an intention to stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s policies, by joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel.” – Roger Waters [1]

With this simple yet compelling logic and exceptional sense of moral responsibility to end complicity in the commission of injustice, Roger Waters announced on the pages of The Guardian his endorsement of the Palestinian-led, global BDS movement.  His move has effectively ushered in a new phase in the spread of BDS to millions across the world who had not previously heard of the budding rights-based movement.

In the same statement, Waters issued a plea to his “colleagues in the music industry, and also to artists in other disciplines” to join the cultural boycott of Israel, in particular, comparing Israel’s system of oppression of the Palestinian people to South Africa’s apartheid regime and recalling how artists boycotted the latter and its infamous Sun City resort as a matter of moral duty.

Roger Waters is certainly not the first nor the only prominent cultural figure to call for a cultural boycott of Israel. World renowned and bestselling authors, including John Berger, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Henning Mankell, and Iain Banks; prize-winning filmmakers, including Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, the Yes Men, and John Greyson; violinist Nigel Kennedy and classical guitarist John Williams; the Irish artists union, Aosdana; and Belgian dance sensations Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Alain Platel were all among many famous cultural figures around the world that have all endorsed one form or another of the Israel boycott in the cultural sphere.  Hundreds of artists in Montreal, Canada, Ireland, South Africa and India have also formed artists-against-Israeli-apartheid type groups that have played a critical role in spreading the cultural boycott into the mainstream.

Yet, Waters’s endorsement of BDS carries special significance, given the combination of his eminence in the rock music world where he enjoys a mass base of millions of fans, his inspiring courage in going all the way in advocating BDS, and his unwavering commitment to speak truth to power in defending equal human rights for all humans.

Towards the end of March of this year, for instance, Roger Waters surprised leading international media outlets and millions around the world when he announced at a press conference in Brazil a ground-breaking social forum for Palestine to be held in Porto Alegre later this year. With his typical modesty and charm, he stated:

“I am honored to have been asked by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, to announce an initiative, to hold the World Social Forum Free Palestine in Porto Alegre, Brazil in November of this year, in cooperation with the Brazilian social movement and international civil society networks.”[2]

But he did not stop at that. He explained exactly why he considers himself part of the global BDS movement saying:

“We will continue our call for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, for the tearing down of The Walls of colonization and apartheid, for the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, for the granting of full and equal rights to the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and for promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes as required by the Geneva convention, as stipulated in UN resolution 194, in 1949 and as restated by the International Court of Justice on the 9th of July 2004.”

This level of political awareness and unwavering commitment to Palestinian rights – both extremely rare among stars of the stature of Waters – were born out of Waters’s history of advocating human rights around the world and his unique experience with the question of Palestine, first through his father’s eyes and later through his own.  “My conviction is born in the idea that all people deserve basic human rights,” he reminds us.  When he visited occupied Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 2006 he wrote: “Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw that day,” adding [3]:

“In my view, the abhorrent and draconian control that Israel wields over the besieged Palestinians in Gaza and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), coupled with its denial of the rights of refugees to return to their homes in Israel, demands that fair-minded people around the world support the Palestinians in their civil, nonviolent resistance.”

And when human rights activists, advocating for divestment of the Presbyterian Church USA from corporations that profit from Israel’s occupation, asked for Roger Waters’s support during his most recent US concert tour, he did not hesitate, despite the potential damage that a pro-BDS position may cause given the bullying and intimidation tactics adopted by Israel lobby groups.  He wrote a moving opinion column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette where he stated in crystal clear language his support for the Presbyterian divestment drive [4]

“I applaud the Presbyterian initiative. In fact, I support the more wide-ranging BDS campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and have called on my fellow musicians to follow suit, just as we did in opposition to apartheid South Africa.”

Roger Waters has set an example in moral responsibility and in redefining the role of artists, especially illustrious ones, in using their unique access to the world stage to stand up for rights, for justice and against all oppression.  For this and everything else that Waters has stood for, he has won the hearts and deep appreciation of Palestinians and people of conscience everywhere.