Edition: 08 – October, 2008
Veolia, Bilbao and European BDS
On October 29/30 2008, Spanish and Basque civil society organizations invited their Palestinian counterparts, along with Israeli activists and solidarity groups from Europe and around the globe to Bilbao to discuss the core elements against which the Palestinian people are struggling, as well as strategies to move the BDS movement forward. A final declaration has been produced that can lead the way forward for effective solidarity.
In addition to this declaration, concrete action has been taking place to support the global BDS movement. On November 1, a delegation from the conference staged a protest in front of the city hall in Bilbao, to pressure the city council to refrain from ratifying the bus transportation contract that it has awarded to Veolia.
More Palestinian solidarity and BDS actions are still to come in Bilbao, as meetings with trade unions and political representatives have been scheduled in order to build pressure for divestment from Veolia until it ends its collaboration with the Occupationâs apartheid.
Campaign against Leviev
The October 28 release of the celebrity portrait book Hollywood Pinups by photographer Timothy White is being marred by controversy, as a charity and stars distance themselves from Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev who provided the jewelry worn by stars in the book. Oxfam America is named in the book as recipient of White’s book sales proceeds, and on the page immediately before, Leviev is thanked for his “support and contribution” to the book. In response, Oxfam America, which had renounced Leviev in January, has again decried Leviev’s settlement construction and diamond mining practices, and announced that it will be informing others of “the deliberate strategy of Leviev Diamonds to connect itself with unwitting charities and celebrities.” In June, UNICEF renounced all connections with Leviev.
Eighteen of 23 celebrity women in the book wore Leviev’s diamonds. The New York rights coalition Adalah-NY has contacted many — Susan Sarandon, Tea Leoni, Felicity Huffman, Vanessa Williams, Kate Hudson, Kate Walsh, Molly Sims, Mary-Kate Olsen and Gina Gershon — and asked them to renounce all connections with Leviev. [MORE]
The Swedish Assa Abloy Company responded to pressure from a coalition of Swedish non-profit groups and the Church of Sweden by deciding to immediately remove its Mul-T-Lock factory in the Barkan settlement, located in the West Bank. A spokesperson for the company said that Assa Ablov will relocate its factory inside the Green Line, and that the move was for political reasons.
This is the second politically motivated closure in the Barkan Industrial Park, as last month, the Barkan Winery company divested from its branch on the Park after entering a partnership with the Dutch beer manufacturer, Heineken.
The problem with these cases is that since Assa Abloy and Barkan Wineries both relocated to areas inside the Green Line, Israel will continue to reap the economic benefits of their operations. In order to isolate Israel and compel it to end its occupation of Palestine, the focus must be on a comprehensive boycott of Israeli products, and full divestment from its corporations.
Israeli telecommunications company signs deal with Indian cellular provider
Ceragon Networks Ltd. announced that it has signed a long-term equipment supply agreement with Tata Teleservices, one of Indiaâs leading mobile operators. Tata Teleservices has over 29 million customers in more than 6600 towns across India and has a pan-India presence spread across 19 of the nationâs 22 cellular service circles. [MORE]
Veolia to invest in Israeli ocean research
France-based Veolia Environnement SA, the world’s largest water company, will invest about $1 million in new research at the Rubbin Academic Center’s School of Marine Sciences. The study is seeking a quick way to identify fecal contaminants near beaches. [MORE]
Israeli and Danish telecommunications companies sign follow-up contact
Israeli company Alvarion and ECI Telecom are continuing their collaboration with the announcement today that they signed a follow-on contract with Danish broadband communications provider ELRO Amro. Alvarion did not disclose the size of the contract, but market sources believe it is large and that Alvarion’s share will total $20 million. [MORE]
Texas firm fined for complying with boycott
The US government has imposed a civil penalty on a Texas-based subsidiary of a German firm for repeated violations of American law regarding compliance with the Arab boycott of Israel.
In a settlement announced earlier this month, Rohde & Liesenfeld Inc., a freight-forwarder based in Houston, agreed to pay a civil penalty of $108,000 to settle charges leveled against it by the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.
The bureau, which oversees enforcement of US anti-boycott rules, had accused the company of 36 violations of the law between July 2002 and March 2003 in a series of dealings with the Syrian petroleum company Al-Furat. [MORE]
MILITARY AND ARMS TRADE NEWS
Dutch authorities fail to arrest Israeli war criminal
Recently, reports were made public detailing that last May, Dutch police failed to arrest Ami Ayalon, an Israeli government minister, despite the fact that he was visiting the Netherlands. An application for Ayalon’s arrest had been submitted to Dutch authorities by Khalid al-Shami, a Palestinian man who claimed he was tortured by Israel’s Shin Bet secret service when it was run by Ayalon.
The Israeli press reported that Dutch officials had contacted the Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs in advance. Israel requested that no legal action be taken and that âdue to Holland’s speedy and positive response to Israel’s plea, the possibility of spiriting Ayalon out of the country immediately, as was the case with Minister Shaul Mofaz’s visit to London, was not considered.â
A building movement of taking legal action against Israeli military brass is occurring in Europe, with previous actions in Spain and the UK.
Elbit Systems activity
Elbit Systems has taken a contract this month to supply the Israeli Air Force Blackhawk helicopters with navigation systems. This contract will completed during 2009.
The company also took contracts with three separate armies to provide communications systems. The three contracts, which total $100 million, apply to a South American ($50 million), Asian ($38 million) and European ($10 million) country.
Elbit also expanded its influence in the defense industry, aquiring a minority interest in fellow Israeli company Azimuth. Azimuth focuses on the development and sale of products for target acquisition and navigation. [MORE]
IDF considers buying vehicles from Indian company
The IDF is testing the first off-road vehicle produced by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., the Scorpio. Elul Group Ltd. represents Mahindra’s defense division in Israel. Mahindra & Mahindra is one of India’s largest conglomerates. Other units of the company, especially high-tech subsidiaries, are also represented in Israel. [MORE]
FREE TRADE AND GOVERNMENT AGREEMENTS
Norwegian activists disrupt Israeli-Norwegian business seminar
In Oslo on November 3, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a half-day seminar about business and research cooperation with Israel, inviting Norwegian and Israeli corporations, research institutions in The Research Council of Norway and other representatives of the two countriesâ business and research sectors. The controversial seminar has gotten widespread attention in Norway as the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) in coordination with Palestinian solidarity activists and civil society groups called for a boycott of the seminar.
In the end, the call for boycott proved to be effective, as only a few companies attended the seminar, and in an effort to avoid scandal, the organizers closed it to the public and the media. Before the seminar began, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs attempted to stonewall critics by refusing to release the list of invitees and participants, and by falsely claiming that no specific corporations were invited.
The call for boycott was endorsed by two of the largest national trade unions, The Transport Workers Union and The Electricians and IT Workers Union, as well as the General Confederation of Trade Unions in Oslo (LO), the Norwegian People’s Aid, the Socialist Youth League, the Labour Youth League, the Red Youth and the Red party. The National Student Union (NSU) also spoke out against the seminar, and several high-profile academics endorsed the call as well.
Among the invited participants to the seminar was the Israeli corporation Housing and Construction Company, which operates in illegal settler colonies in the West Bank. One of it’s subsidies, Pereg Industry, is located in the Atarot Industrial Zone, which is built on confiscated Palestinian land next to the Apartheid Wall in Qalandiya.
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Egypt â Israel natural gas protest continues, Gaza solidarity protest suppressed
According to al-Jazeera, a lawyer in Egypt has demanded that the government halt its gas exports to Israel. Ibrahim Yossri, 65, arrived at the court on October 7 to call on the Egyptian government to stop exporting natural gas to its Middle East neighbour.
A $2-3bn agreement to supply natural gas to Israel was signed by Binyamin Ben Eliezer, the Israeli infrastructure minister, and Sameh Fahmi, the Egyptian oil minister, in June 2005.
The continued involvement of the Egyptian government with Israel is at odds with the popular support for the Palestinian struggle. This month, Egyptian police blocked a convoy organised by opposition groups to carry medical supplies to the Gaza Strip. A number of activists were abducted by the police, assaulted, and later released.
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Israeli clean technology companies strengthen ties in the United States
October saw two developments indicating a growing relationship between individual states and Israel.
In early October, the Cleantech Group partnered with the California Israel Chamber of Commerce (CICC), an organization that aims tot expand and strengthen business ties between Israel and the state of California.
Joint work will begin on 11 November 2008 when the Cleantech Group is set to host the Israel Cleantech Showcase at Stanford University and at various on-site locations across in the Bay Area. This event will be done in partnership with PG&E, CPUC, and other industry leaders, and showcase 10 Israeli companies. This event is part of a week-long tour, aimed at building relationships between Israeli companies and California companies, investors and universities. [MORE]
A similar delegation Israeli start-companies arrived in the state of Massachusetts an attempt to strengthen ties between the clean technology in Israel and investors in the United States. A representative for the government of Massachusetts welcomed the delegation and spoke at second day of the conference, held in Boston. [MORE]