US Students Rejoice Over Israel Boycott

December 27, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Hena Ashraf, IOL

WASHINGTON—Pro-Palestinian students in a US college are celebrating its decision to divest from firms serving the Israeli occupation of Palestine, a decision that has sparked a raging controversy.

“We were able to educate and mobilize an entire community, the majority of our community,” Aidan Kriese, an organizer from the Students for Justice in Palestine group (SJP) in Hampshire College, Massachusetts, told IslamOnline.net.

“And the majority has made a decision.”

On February 7, Hampshire College became the first US institute of higher education to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The groundbreaking decision was taken by the Committee on Investment Responsibility and approved by the College’s Board of Trustees.

The six companies are Caterpillar, Terex, Motorola, ITT, General Electric, and United Technologies.

They are believed to be directly providing the Israeli military with equipment and services in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

“We were interested in looking at the specific relationships that our particular institution had in the occupation,” Kriese said.

“We found we were linked specifically to the occupation through these corporations.”

Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP’s “institutional statement” calling for the divestment from these firms.

Divestment efforts and academic boycotts of Israel have largely gained ground in the past few years.

The United Methodist Church has received five separate petitions calling for divestment from companies that support or profit from the Israeli occupation.

Victory

The divestment, widely covered in national media, has stirred a firestorm controversy leading the college’s administration to deny the issue had anything to do with politics.

But the students’ association insists that breaking ties with the six firms was specifically linked to helping the Israeli occupation.

“The SJP was asked by the administration what companies to avoid in the future in terms of the Israeli occupation of Palestine,” Kriese said.

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a well-known supporter of Israel, has called for donors to divest from Hampshire College and halt contributions to the college until it clears up the situation.

After his column in the Israeli Jerusalem Post daily stirred a sandstorm, Hampshire College issued a statement acknowledging that the process was launched in response to the SJP proposal, but denied that the final decision had anything to do with Israel.

“For eight and a half months the only specific companies…that were discussed were the six companies SJP targeted,” the SJP said in a later statement.

“These facts prove that the decision was made on the grounds of the six companies’ involvement in the occupation of Palestine.”

Despite the controversy, the SJP still sees the college’s decision to divest from the pro-occupation companies a victory.

“It’s really clear to us that we’ve done our part in raising concerns about the occupation,” boasts Kriese.

For more info on the divestment project visit:

http://www.divestmentproject.org/

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Here’s an interview with on of the organizers in which he clearly explains the reasoning behind the project, something which is missing from this article.
(Part1)
http://www.iamthewitness.com/audio/Somerville.Project/CII.2008.11.28.Fri.1of2.Somerville.Project.mp3
(Part2)
http://www.iamthewitness.com/audio/Somerville.Project/CII.2008.11.28.Fri.2of2.Somerville.Project.mp3

Majority of UN member countries call on Israel to abide by resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan

November 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mazen Eyon

New York, (SANA)-The majority of the United Nations member countries called on Israel to abide by resolutions related to the occupied Syrian Golan, particularly the UN Security Council resolution 497 which considers the Israeli decision to impose its laws and procedures on Golan as null and void.

The fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly (The Special Political and Decolonization Committee) adopted Thursday a draft resolution entitled ‘the occupied Syrian Golan’ with 165 countries voting for the resolution. Only Israel voted against the draft resolution and the US abstained.

The resolution called on Israel to cancel its decision of annexing the Golan, considering the Israeli administrative and legislative procedures to change the Syrian Golan identity as null and void as well as a flagrant violation of the international law and Geneva Convention.

It also demanded Israel to stop imposing the Israeli nationality and the Israeli identity cards on the Syrians in Golan and halt the repressive measures against the Syrian citizens, condemning Israel’s violations of Geneva Convention on protecting civilians.

The Committee urged the UN member countries not to recognize any of the Israeli procedures that contradict the international law.

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9/11 Investigation Referendum on NY Ballot: 30,000 Signature Petition Achieves Aim

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Reuters

NEW YORK, Sept. 10–In a last minute decision, lawyers for the City of New York conceded that the New York City Coalition for Accountability Now (NYC CAN), a group comprising 9/11 family members, first responders and survivors, indeed did submit over 30,000 valid signatures to put the referendum for a new 9/11 investigation before the voters of New York City this November.

In an earlier letter from the City Clerk dated July 24, 2009, the City had claimed too few valid signatures had been on the petition.

Asked whether he thought NYC CAN could overcome the City’s challenge to the legality of the petition, legal counsel to the petitioners, Dennis McMahon, said, “Absolutely. Although the City has an incredibly successful record of shooting down ballot initiatives, we will be arguing from a fresh perspective that reflects the unprecedented events of 9/11. We believe the courts will see how critical an issue this is, and be persuaded with our legal reasoning and point of view.” A final determination on the legality of the petition will be reached in time for the referendum to be included on the November ballot should the petitioners prevail.

Representatives for NYC CAN, 9/11 family member Manny Badillo and Executive Director Ted Walter, arrived at the Board of Elections on the morning of Wednesday, September 9, to assist the court-appointed referee in commencing a line-by-line review of the disputed signatures, only to learn the referee’s review had been called off due to a last minute concession by the City. Mr. Badillo immediately got on the phone to inform others of the news.

“The City conceded we have 30,000 valid signatures. Big victory.”

The City’s concession comes as a result of the immense effort put forth by 50+ volunteers who gave more than 1,000 hours over a two week period from August 10 to August 25 to identify a total of 7,166 signatures that were wrongly invalidated by the NYC City Clerk and Board of Elections. On August 27, NYC CAN filed the 631-page Bill of Particulars cataloguing each of the 7,166 signatures it contended were in fact valid. NYC CAN submitted another 28,000 signatures on September 4 to guarantee the referendum will go on the ballot if they win the court case, bringing the total signatures submitted to 80,000.

NYC CAN must deliver its memorandum of law in response to the City’s motion for summary judgment by Monday, September 21. The City will be given an opportunity to reply before the referee’s decision is made on Monday, September 28. Fast-track appeals will likely follow no matter who wins. A final decision will have to be made by September 30.

If the referendum passes in November, it would lead to the creation of a local, independent commission with subpoena power that would be tasked with comprehensively reinvestigating the attacks.

For more info: http://www.nyccan.org.

Canada Drops Plans to Ban Veiled Voting

August 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

CBC News

Canada_flag The federal government has no plans to move forward with proposed legislation to force veiled women to show their faces when voting, the minister of state for democratic reform said Thursday.

“We have other priorities as far as increasing voter participation and with the expanded voting opportunities legislation,” Steven Fletcher said in an interview.
“And that is our focus. That obviously will affect a lot more people.”

Dmitri Soudas, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, confirmed the government still supports the idea of forcing voters to reveal their faces, but said the bill doesn’t have opposition support.

“The bottom line is even if we were to proceed with legislation, it would be voted down immediately,” Soudas said.

The government introduced the bill in October 2007, a month after an Elections Canada ruling allowed Muslim women to vote with their faces covered by burkas or niqabs during three Quebec by elections.

That decision infuriated the government, and Harper accused Elections Canada of subverting the will of Parliament, which several months earlier had unanimously adopted legislation beefing up voter identification requirements.

“I profoundly disagree with the decision,” Harper said at the time. “The role of Elections Canada is not to make its own laws, it’s to put into place the laws that Parliament has passed.”

The government’s proposed amendment to the Canada Elections Act would have made a limited exception for any voter whose face is swathed in bandages due to surgery or some other medical reason. It also would have given some flexibility to Elections Canada officials to administer the law in a manner respectful of religious beliefs.

Opposition parties initially supported the proposed legislation, but later backed off when the issue was more closely examined.

Chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand noted that the beefed-up ID requirements passed by Parliament in 2007 did not, in fact, authorize the agency to compel visual identification of voters.

Moreover, it was pointed out that thousands of Canadians have no photo ID. Requiring them to show their faces would be meaningless without photo identification against which to verify their identities.

The Elections Act gives voters three ways to prove their identification in order to cast a ballot: provide a government photo ID; provide two pieces of approved ID, at least one of which must state their address (but neither of which must contain a photo); or have another voter registered in the same district vouch for them.

The federal government’s decision comes days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said full-body gowns that are worn by the most conservative Muslim women have no place in France.

Sarkozy said wearing the burka or the niqab isn’t about religion, but the subjugation of women.

“In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,” Sarkozy said to extended applause in a speech Monday.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press

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