Philly BDS | No Justice, No (Chick)peas
Philadelphia, PA, July 2, 2011 – More than fifty human rights protesters came out onto the streets today in response to recent action by the Greek government preventing the US Boat to Gaza from leaving port at Athens. The protesters held signs, chanted and talked to holiday vacationers in front of the Federal Building at 6th and Market Streets in Philadelphia.
Scheduled to sail as part of an international flotilla to break the blockade of Gaza, the U.S. Boat to Gaza—The Audacity of Hope—was stopped on Friday by the Greek Coast Guard. After a stand off that unfolded over several hours a second Greek Coast Guard boat arrived carrying heavily armed Greek commandos. The boat was eventually taken back to dock in Athens and the captain arrested.
Protesters carried signs that read “Free Gaza,” “End the Blockade of Gaza,” “Let our Citizens Sail,” and “End the Siege of Gaza.” The crowd of fifty, sometimes joined by passersby, repeated chants like “The whole world is watching Gaza, let the boats sail!” and “Justice will prevail; let the boats sail!” Protesters also chanted “Hey, hey Barack Obama, Let our people sail to Gaza!” Today’s protest drew cheers from passersby and honks of support from passing cars.
Also during the protest, Alice Walker’s poem written aboard the Audacity of Hope was read aloud by the father of a local Jewish American activist who was violently arrested in a Jerusalem Day protest while traveling with an Interfaith Peace Builders delegation last month in East Jerusalem.
Passengers aboard The Audacity of Hope include 36 Americans, among them Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. Four crew and ten reporters are also on board.
Susan Landau of Philly BDS commented: “The Greek government is caving into pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The activists on the boat are peaceful human rights activists. The Israeli government is going to great lengths to prevent their journey and maintain an illegal naval blockade that violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. And Greece is trumping up charges against the boat’s captain because it is bowing to pressure from the U.S. and the Israeli government. All the support we’ve gotten today shows that freedom-loving people here and elsewhere won’t be fooled.”
Similar protests are being held in other cities, such as New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Dallas, Seattle, and Toronto.
DePaul students to participate in historic vote on Sabra hummus referendum in election this week
by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) DePaul
The Student Government Association at DePaul allows a referendum on Sabra hummus for upcoming election ballot in response to a request from Students for Justice in Palestine.
CHICAGO, IL (May 15, 2010)—Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at DePaul University has been campaigning for the University to stop selling Sabra hummus products on its campuses. SJP is concerned with the actions of Sabra’s parent company, the Strauss Group, which provides financial support and supplies to two Israeli military brigades, the Givati and Golani.
These brigades have committed a series of human rights abuses since their formation in 1947 and 1948, respectively. Numerous instances have been reported by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations. Recent examples include Givati brigade soldiers endangering Palestinian children by forcing them to serve as human shields; members of the Golani brigade opening fire on a civilian home, killing three young girls; and a Givati brigade soldier shooting and killing a Palestinian mother and daughter as they were carrying white flags during Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip from December 2008 to January 2009.
On Thursday, May 12, members of SJP DePaul presented a referendum to the Student Government Association (SGA) concerning Sabra and asked them to place it on this year’s SGA election ballot. The language of the referendum states:
“Sabra, which currently supplies hummus to the DePaul cafeteria, is co-owned by the Strauss Group. The Strauss group provides financial support and supplies to the Golani and Givati brigades of the Israeli military, which have been found by the United Nations to be violators of human rights. Are you in favor of replacing Sabra with an alternative brand of hummus?”
After deliberation, the SGA decided to place the referendum on the ballot for students to consider during the upcoming election. This referendum is the first student referendum on a SGA ballot in at least ten years.
Students may vote on the referendum from midnight on Monday, May 16th until 9:00am on Friday, May 20th. It will pass if 1,500 students vote and the majority votes in favor of replacing Sabra with an ethically conscious brand.
Press Contact: Trent Carl (832) 244-2285 email@example.com
May 4, 2011
Philadelphians Protest Jewish National Fund’s Poker Tournament Fundraiser
More than two dozen local residents gathered outside Del Frisco’s restaurant in Center City on Wednesday evening for a noisy picket of the Jewish National Fund’s “Philadelphia Poker & Blackjack Tournament.” Proceeds from the annual fundraising event, which is co-sponsored by prominent Philadelphia corporations and firms, support the Jewish National Fund’s activities in Israel. The protesters oppose the organization’s treatment of Palestinian land and people.
As the poker players arrived at the restaurant on the corner of 15th and Chestnut Streets, they were greeted by a vocal picket line denouncing the JNF’s role in the ongoing destruction of Palestinian villages. Carrying signs reading “Land Theft is Not Charity,” the protesters took aim at the JNF’s status as a charity that pays no taxes under U.S. law. “It’s absurd that an organization involved in ethnic cleansing gets to count as a charity,” said Susan Landau, who took part in the protest. “Why are American taxpayers subsidizing an organization whose mission is to support land acquisition for one ethnic group only? I’m Jewish, it’s my ethnic group, but I don’t support what they do.”
“The JNF is at the heart of Israel’s ongoing dispossession of Palestinians from their land,” said Elliott batTzedek, another picketer. “For over 60 years, the JNF has been destroying Palestinian homes and villages. They cover up the destruction by planting forests over the ruins and calling them parks. One village in the Negev desert has been leveled over a dozen times in the last year to make room for a JNF forest.”
Founded in 1901, the Jewish National Fund originally collected money from Jews throughout the world to “redeem the land of Israel” by purchasing land in Palestine. Since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the JNF has raised tens of millions of dollars for planting trees in Israel, many of which are planted on the ruins of demolished Palestinian Arab villages. For example, after the Israeli army’s 1967 capture of the Palestinian village of Imwas – which was the town of Emmaus in Biblical times – the population was forcibly expelled and the town was bulldozed. The Jewish National Fund’s “Canada Park” was built over the ruins.
The protesters said that much of the land controlled by the JNF was never actually purchased at all. “After 1948, the Israelis didn’t have to buy land, the state just took it and then sold it to the JNF,” explained batTzedek. “Under Israeli law, any land that comes under the control of the Jewish National Fund then becomes available only to Jews forever. So while Israel claims to be a democracy that respects equality and justice, in fact more than 90 percent of its land is inaccessible to Palestinians, who make up more than 20 percent of the population in Israel.”
“The JNF wants to be thought of as an environmental organization, but what they planted were non-native trees that actually hurt the natural environment,” noted Landau. “A long time ago, I believed the Jewish National Fund did good things. I hope some of the people who came to play poker tonight will eventually understand that the JNF exists in order to maintain an apartheid system in Israel and Palestine.”
Some of the poker players seemed disturbed by the protest. A few stopped to argue, with a few using epithets. One man denounced the picketers as “Nazis.” Most paused briefly to watch and listen before entering the restaurant for an evening of festivities and high rolling.
Outside, the protesters distributed postcards explaining their action and continued their chant: “Dirty money, dirty dealing: Palestine is what you’re stealing!”
Dear Friends, Allies, and Supporters of Philly BDS,
We write to you on the occasion of Palestinian Land Day 2011, the annual commemoration of the 1976 general strike and non-violent protests against massive land appropriation by Israel in which six Palestinians were killed and hundreds of others were jailed and wounded. Since then it has been a day to recall many decades of Palestinian resistance to historic and on-going displacement and dispossession.
Given the significance of this day to Palestinians, it is particularly offensive that the Jewish National Fund has just proclaimed March 30 as “Buy Israeli goods Day.” Nevertheless, we take this as a measure of the growing power of the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.
March 30, 2011 also marks the launch of an important internationally coordinated campaign to challenge the JNF. The Jewish National Fund is a quasi-governmental organization that has spearheaded and provided cover for the ongoing appropriation of land by the Israeli state. We urge you to sign the Stop the JNF Call to Action at http://stopthejnf.org.
Through the boycott of Tribe Hummus and Sabra Hummus, launched in Philadelphia in 2010, individuals and organizations have the opportunity to be personally involved in stopping the JNF; Osem Corporation, owner of Tribe, is a major corporate patron of the Jewish National Fund. If you’d like to become more involved in our local campaign, we’d love to hear from you.
We hope that Land Day 2011 is a day of renewed commitment to the struggle for a free Palestine.
In strength and solidarity,
A Jewish response to the February 2011 Statement of Jewish Zionist Organizations on Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaigns Against Israel.
Because academic, cultural and commercial boycotts, divestments and sanctions of Israel:
are being called for by Palestinian civil society in response to the occupation and colonization of
are a moral tool of non-violent, peaceful response to more than sixty years of Israeli
rightfully place accountability on Israeli institutions (and their allies and partners) that use
business, cultural, and academic ties to white-wash Israel’s responsibility for continuing crimes
The undersigned organizations and individuals stand firm in our support of Boycott, Divestment
and Sanctions (BDS) initiatives against Israel until it meets its obligation to recognize the
Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of
BDS is not anti-Semitic. We reject the notion that the 2005 BDS call from Palestine, and the BDS
campaigns the world over which it has inspired, are rooted in anti-Jewish sentiment. On the
contrary, BDS is an anti-racist movement against the daily, brutal occupation of Palestine and
military threat to the region by the State of Israel. False claims of anti-Semitism distort the true
nature of the Palestinian struggle and are an affront to, and betrayal of, the long history of Jewish
survival and resistance to persecution.
BDS is not anti-democratic. We also reject the assertion that the cultural and academic boycotts
of Israel defy the democratic principle of free speech. Research and development in academic
institutions play a central role in designing and defending Israel’s military and intelligence
machinery. Cultural institutions perpetuate the deception of Israeli democracy. To defend freedom
of speech for those who disregard justice while demonizing those who struggle for justice is a great
disservice to genuine democracy.
Through boycott, divestment and sanctions, civil society asserts our commitment to not contribute
to the Israeli state, which is responsible for atrocious acts of disregard for human life and well
being. Attacks against BDS campaigns will not prevent us from taking this stance against Israeli
impunity. For the Jewish organizations signed onto this letter, self-determination for Jews includes
the right to participate in the movement for justice in Palestine and to live in the world with our
fellow citizens in peace, freedom, and equity. It does not include the domination and colonization of
other people or living separate from our fellow human beings in a state that privileges Jews.
BDS was a key strategy in ending the white South African system of apartheid by applying
international pressure. In pursuit of justice, peace and freedom for all, we speak out as Jews
committed to BDS and Palestinian liberation.
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Not In Our Name (Argentina)
Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in Middle East (EJJP, Germany)
Not in Our Name: Jews Opposing Zionism (Canada)
Jews for a Just Peace (Fredericton, Canada)
Independent Jewish Voice (Canada)
Middle East Children’s Alliance (USA)
Critical Jewish Voice (Austria)
* Women in Black (Austria)
* French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP)
* Bay Area Women in Black (USA)
* St. Louis Women in Black (USA)
* Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace (USA)
* American Jews for a Just Peace (USA)
* Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)
* – JUNTS, Asociació catalana de Jueus i Palestins (Asociación Catalana de Judios y Palestinas,
* Ronnie Kasrils, former South African government minister, writer, founder Not In My Name,
* Antony Loewenstein, Independent Australian Jewish Voices
* Peter Slezak, Independent Australian Jewish Voices
* Moshé Machover, Professor (emeritus) (UK), founder Matzpen
* Felicia Langer, Israeli lawyer, author, Right Livelihood Award 2006 (Alternative Nobel Prize)
1990, Bruno Kreisky Prize 1991
* Mieciu Langer, Nazi Holocaust survivor
* Hedy Epstein, Nazi Holocaust survivor
* Hajo G. Meyer PhD, Nazi Holocaust survivor
* Kamal Chenoy, IJAN India & The All India Peace and Solidarity Organization
* Paola Canarutto & Giorgio Forti, Rete ECO, Italy
* Liliane Cordova Kaczerginski, IJAN France
* Sonia Fayman, IJAN France & UJFP
* Ernesto Rosenberg, GRAMARPAL (Grupo de Amistad Argentina-Palestina, Neuquén, Argentina)
* Mark Elf, blogger, Jews sans Frontieres
We welcome organizations and individuals to join us in condemning false claims of anti-
Semitism for the purposes of attempting to discredit our collective anti-racist activism
against Israeli apartheid.
Click here to sign letter: http://www.ijsn.net/657/
PhillyBDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) stands with NYC Siege Busters and their unity with the broader social justice community. Activists fighting for human rights and dignity, be it for Palestinians, the LGBT community or any oppressed group, only stand to gain from working together, and we urge the Manhattan LGBT center to uphold it’s long tradition of standing up for those that are marginalized in society.
Many defenders of Israel’s abuses against Palestinians use racist caricatures of Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians, using stereotypes of homophobia to characterize a complex and multi-faceted society. This is “pinkwashing”; the cooptation of the queer movement by Israel as a way to detract attention from its daily violations of International Law. Queer people in the Middle East will not be safe so long as Israel continues to restrict the ability of Palestinians to live full and self-determined lives.
Limiting access to the LGBT Center only perpetuates the systemic oppression of the Palestinian people. Our American society, and the LGBTQ community in particular, should stand for open doors and open spaces, rather than excluding particular peoples, ideas, or identities.
It is our hope that the Manhattan LGBT Center will stand on the side of human rights and intersecting struggles. The struggles against racism, homophobia, and all forms of oppression are all part of the same struggle for free spaces, freedom of expression and the freedom to exist, regardless of identity.
Philly BDS stands in solidarity with the millions of people in the Middle East struggling for freedom and democracy as they define it, not as defined by the United States, Israel, or other outside powers.
We celebrated with the people of Egypt and around the world on February 11th when former President Hosni Mubarak finally ceded to pressures to step down. Since then, Egyptian people’s efforts to ensure a real transition to democracy has only just begun. Among their many demands, we support Egyptians’ continued efforts to unravel unequal economic systems, unjust labor practices, and bring justice to past human rights abuses in the country.
While our hearts are largely focused on the Middle East–in Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Tunesia, Lybia, Bahrain, Algeria, and more–we hold the United States accountable for supporting the Egyptian and countless other regimes through military aid and political support. We recognize that the U.S. acts on its interest to maintain power structures in the face of injustice and violence instead of supporting peoples’ struggles for democracy.
Our state of Pennsylvania produces the tear gas canisters fired at nonviolent protesters and civilians around the world. The U.S. gives $4 million a year to Israel and Egypt, largely supporting the suppression of popular voices such as those in Tahrir Square earlier this month. As Pennsylvanians and citizens of the United States we call for an end to these policies and recognition of people’s right to govern themselves.
As a coalition working to support Palestinian struggle for self-autonomy by answering the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions, we are dedicated to for justice in Philadelphia, the Middle East, and around the world.
Philadelphia, 14 February 2011. The Philadelphia campaign to boycott two popular snack
foods that fund Israeli human rights abuses in occupied Palestine took new steps today to
pressure a local supermarket chain to “de-shelve” Sabra Hummus and Tribe Hummus. In a
videotaped “direct action for Valentine’s Day,” five members of the Philadelphia Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions Coalition delivered over a hundred hand-crafted and hand-written
valentine cards to Patrick Burns, CEO of the Fresh Grocer stores, at the chain’s Drexel Hill
corporate offices. The visit was filmed by the group, which has said it will make the videotape
available on YouTube and other websites within the next several days and expects it to be seen
In October, members of “Philly BDS” surprised customers and employees of the Fresh Grocer’s
flagship store at 40th and Walnut Streets near the University of Pennsylvania by staging a “flash
dance” in which they sang and danced to a tune by Lady Gaga with lyrics adapted to their
boycott message. The videotape of that action has now been viewed by more than 67,000
people worldwide, inspiring similar flash dance actions in cities from St. Louis to Tel Aviv.
Following the Philly BDS lead, campaigns to boycott Sabra and Tribe Hummus are currently
being planned on university campuses and in several cities around the United States.
The Valentine-themed event began at a silent art auction and fundraising dance party
entitled “Make Love Not War,” which was held by the group last Friday evening in West
Philadelphia. In addition to dancing and dressing up for photographs taken in an on-
site “kissing booth,” party attendees bid on crafts, paintings, collectible posters, photographs
and other donated art work. Most also found a few minutes at an oversized crafts table
to make personalized cards using red construction paper, bits of paper doilies, glitter and
glue provided by Philly BDS. “Dear Mr. Burns, Please spread love, not apartheid hummus,”
read one of the cards handmade by a party-goer who supports the Sabra and Tribe Hummus
boycott but otherwise has not been part of the local campaign to support human rights of
Palestinians. Other hand-crafted cards called on Fresh Grocer to “C’mon and Be Our Valentine,
Support Human Rights in Palestine.”
After delivering the large basket of valentine cards to Mr. Burns in Drexel Hill on Monday
afternoon, the activists returned to West Philadelphia where they joined a large crowd
of boycott supporters sporting the group’s signature red sequined headbands in front of
the Fresh Grocer store on Walnut Street. Buoyed by their afternoon “love caravan,” they
distributed valentine candy with cards describing the Sabra and Tribe boycott campaign to
shoppers and passers-by. “We’re in this campaign for the long haul,” said Evan Hoffman,
whose face poked through a tall red cardboard heart. “We will do what it takes to make sure
that our message of love for the people of Palestine stays visible and that Fresh Grocer knows
we’re serious about getting Sabra and Tribe out of their stores. We believed Fresh Grocer
when they said they cared about human rights and community – now we want the corporation
to live up to its word.”
(Philadelphia, 12-18-2010) –Philly BDS, the local campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, brought holiday caroling to the sidewalks of West Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon. The group of singers, often joined by supportive passers-by, offered a spirited short program of Hanukkah and Christmas songs with lyrics revised to reflect support of Palestinian human rights. The caroling began outside the Fresh Grocer flagship store at 40th and Walnut Streets, and continued outside the Fu-Wah grocery on South 47th Street. These two stores are targets of the Philly BDS call for businesses to stop selling Sabra Hummus and Tribe Hummus, both of which support Israeli human rights abuses of Palestinians.
“We want to remind people that Israel continues its human rights violations as we speak. Gaza is under siege, and just two years ago Israel launched a brutal attack on Gaza, killing close to 1400 people, most of whom were women and children,” said Kate Zaidan, one of those singing. “It’s wonderful to spend time with family this time of year, but we ask that people not place Sabra and Tribe hummus on their holiday tables.”
In late October, Philly BDS launched the Sabra and Tribe Hummus boycott campaign with a flash dance in the Fresh Grocer store including rewritten lyrics to Lady Gaga’s song, “Telephone.” The YouTube video of the flash dance has been viewed more than 50,000 times and has sparked similar actions in cities around the country. Saturday’s caroling is the latest public action of a growing national movement of Palestinian human rights activists to boycott the Sabra and Tribe hummus brands.
Last month, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Strauss Group, a co-owner of Sabra hummus, had removed its support for the Israeli military’s Golani Brigade from its English-language site (though not its Hebrew site) in response to pressure from the global BDS movement against Israel. The Strauss Group has since modified its English website, renewing its support for the Golani brigade, a military unit that is responsible for numerous human rights violations.
The Osem Group, owner of Tribe Hummus, is a prominent endorser of Israel’s Jewish National Fund (JNF). Since 1948, the JNF has played a key role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their homes as well as the disappearance of Palestinian heritage through an elaborate village-razing and tree-planting campaign.
In 2005, 171 organizations representing Palestinian civil society issued a call for a global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel until Israel complies with international law—ending its occupation of Palestinian lands, dismantling the “separation barrier” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, granting full and equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and recognizing the right of exiled Palestinians to return to their country. Organized in the vein of the anti-Apartheid movement against the South African government, the BDS movement has burgeoned globally over the past five years, with hundreds of individual campaigns targeting Israel’s economic, academic, and cultural institutions.
Philly BDS is a creative partnership working for human rights in Israel/Palestine as part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.