Edition: 12 – February, 2009
Endorse the international day of action on March 30!
During the month of March, 2009, the Palestine National BDS Committee has launched a major endorsement gathering drive. This leads up to the Global Day of BDS actions on March 30 that was announced at the World Social Forum held last month in Brazil.
We are calling upon all social movements, organizations, networks and parties around the globe to join us by endorsing the Palestinian civil society Call for BDS. If you can sign on by March 28, your name will be included in the endorsement declaration for March 30. Sign on here.
Consumer boycott of Israeli produce across Europe
This month, there was widespread action across Europe supporting the BDS effort against Israeli produce. In the UK, a demonstration was held outside the main Carmel â Agrexco warehouse in Middlesex on the 2 February. The action was aimed at raising awareness about BDS as well as blocking the companyâs daily shipment. More demonstrations against Carmel Agrexco were also held on 7 February, including another at the main warehouse.
In Wales, activists also targeted settlement produce, staging an action in front of a large Tesco supermarket and calling for a boycott of Israel. Several activists filled shopping carts with settlement produce before pushing the carts out of the store without paying. The items was then strewn on the ground in front of the supermarket and covered with fake blood. The group proceeded to speak about the situation in the West Bank and Gaza, handing out flyers to customers explaining the action and calling for BDS before being removed by the police.
In Denmark, BDS activists across Denmark held a day of action on 14 February, where they distributed information on reasons for boycott in front of supermarkets selling produce from firms like Carmel and Jaffa.
For UK actions, see news here, here and here. For Denmark, click here.
Veolia campaign update
The activities of French transportation giants Veolia and Alstom in building on occupied Palestinian land clearly constitute misconduct sufficiently grave to warrant the exclusion of all its divisions from public contracts in Europe. It is difficult to imagine what misconduct could be more grave than the aiding, abetting, facilitation or exacerbation of war crimes and human rights violations. [MORE]
Church of England divests over Â£2.2 million from Caterpillar
The Church of England has clarified their position on their investments in companies profiting from and supporting the ongoing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, clarifying that late last year they removed over Â£2.2 million from Caterpillar, a company whose bulldozers and heavy plant equipment are used to destroy the homes of Palestinians and construct the Wall. [MORE]
Consumer boycott of Max Brenner launched in Australia
Palestine solidarity activists in Sydney have launched a campaign targeting Max Brenner Chocolates, a 100% Israeli-owned company belonging to the Strauss Group, as part of the growing international boycott of Israel. [MORE]
Israeli company NICE wins new contracts Brazil and South Africa
In Brazil, NICE SmartCenter has been selected by seven leading Brazilian telecommunications and contact center outsourcing companies. Each of these companies placed orders in the fourth quarter of 2008 for NICE SmartCenter for their contact centers, which handle millions of customer calls each month, to meet the requirements of the countryâs new presidential decree. [MORE]
In South Africa, Transnet Port Terminals, the largest cargo terminal operator in South Africa, is expanding NICEâs IP video surveillance environment at Durban Car Terminal and Ngqura, for a total of five port terminals. The new project is part of a national security upgrade initiative designed to improve security at South Africaâs commercial ports and ensure compliance with the governmentâs Key Points and Strategic Installations regulations for the security of national critical infrastructure sites. [MORE]
Egyptian workers strike against exports to Israel
In an unprecedented action, the first following the destruction of Gaza, workers from the Egyptian Fertilizers Company in Suez protested on 7 February against the export of fertilizers to Israel. [MORE]
British cooperative to promote Palestinian goods over Israeli
The British retailers’ cooperative sent a letter to the Carmel Winery distributor last week saying: Up to this day we have not taken any products containing significant parts manufactured in the occupied territories. From now on, we will also avoid marketing products with any part of their components purchased in the occupied territories.
Britain also plans to promote Palestinian goods. “We are opening commerce channels with Palestinian farmers in hopes of launching the first fair-trade Palestinian product later during the year,” the letter said. [MORE]
modu wins first-ever $38.5 million contract in Philippines
Israeli mobile phone company modu announced an exclusive agreement with Lynk Communications to distribute modu phones and jackets in the Philippines, with agreements in several other countries in the region to be announced at a later date. An initial order of modu phones and modu jackets, valued in total at $38.5 million, will hit the region beginning in the 2nd quarter 2009. modu expects to expand to other Asian markets in the coming months. [MORE]
Bank Hapoalim considers expanding in Turkey
Israeli bank Bank Hapoalim is unconcerned that the recent Israeli-Turkish diplomatic spat following Operation Cast Lead will impact long-term opportunities, and the bank is considering expanding its activity in Turkey. Currently, Bank Hapoalim’s Turkish business is handled through subsidiary Bankpozitif Credi Ve Kalkinma Bankasi AS. One option under consideration is the acquisition of the Turkish operations of Millennium Banco Commercial Portuguese and consolidating them with Bankpozitif.
Bank Hapoalim owns 35% of Bankpozitif, with the rest held by C Faktoring SA, whose owner, Halit Cingillioglu, is considered close to the AK Party, Turkey’s current ruling party.
Bank Hapoalim is the largest Israeli Bank, founded in 1921 by the Histadrut and the WZO. [MORE]
VocalTec wins South African VoIP contract
Israeli telecommunications provider VocalTec Communications Ltd. will supply its Essentra VoIP solution to South African Under-Serviced Area License (USAL) provider Amatole Telecoms Ltd., a Black Empowered Enterprise (BEE) company. [MORE]
Max Brenner to open Philadelphia chocolate bar
Strauss Group Ltd. chocolate subsidiary Max Brenner will open three branches in the US, the first in Philadelphia this summer at a cost of $1.5 million. The company will have five branches in the US when the move is completed.
Max Brenner currently has 25 stores and chocolate bars worldwide, of which 18 are operated by franchisees, with the rest wholly owned by Strauss. The company has six branches in Israel, fourteen in Australia, two each in the US and the Philippines, and one in Singapore. [MORE]
Cafe chain Aroma plans to open branches in NYC and Toronto
Cafe chain Aroma Israel is continuing its international expansion. This week, it opened its first branches in Ukraine capital Kiev and Cypriot resort of Limassol. The openings come a few days after the chain opened its second cafes in both New York and Toronto. All these branches are operated by franchisees, with Aroma directly owning a small stake. [MORE]
MILITARY AND ARMS TRADE NEWS
UK, US universities divest from arms companies
This month, student activists at Hampshire College and Cardiff University both forced their respective universities to divest from firms supporting and selling arms or military equipment to Israel.
Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, has become the first of any college or university in the US to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola and Terex due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine.
Also this month, Cardiff University in Wales won a divestment victory following a three-day occupation of a university building. The Cardiff administration has announced that it will divest Â£209,000 from BAE Systems and General Electric and has confirmed that fund managers will not reinvest.
For Hampshire, click here. For Cardiff, click here.
Decommissioning EDO in the UK
As part of the ongoing campaign against the EDO factory in Brighton, UK and in support of the people of Gaza, 6 people entered EDO MBM/ITT and caused over a quarter of a million pounds worth of damage. The intent was to decommission the factory to prevent the manufacture of weapons that could be used against the people of Gaza. [MORE]
Fighting the arms trade in India
On February 7, the Convention for Solidarity with Palestine was held in Delhi, the Indian capital. Of the conventions demands were a cutting ties with Israel and immediate cancellation of a current missile deal with IAI. [MORE]
Israel Becomes India’s Top Defense Supplier with PHALCON Deal
Israel has overtaken Russia as the main defense supplier to India after breaking the $1 billion mark in new contracts signed annually over the past two years. According to news reports, Russia had averaged sales of $875 million annually to India for the past 40 years. [MORE]
Elbit Systems in February
This month, Elbit Systems Ltd. wholly-owned subsidiary, Elbit Systems Land and C4I-Tadiran Ltd. aquired Shiron Satellite Communications (1996) Ltd. for $16 million. Shiron makes broadband communication solutions for the growing interactive multimedia broadband satellite market. [MORE]
Also, Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) joint subsidiary Elisra Group has won a $7 million contract to supply airborne electronic warfare systems to Korean Aerospace Industries Co. Ltd. for use on Korean Air Force FA50 light attack jets.[MORE]
Elta favorite to win Korean early warning tender
Israeli arms company Elta will provide the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system’s Green Pine radar to Korea. The “Korea Times” reports that the Republic of Korea Army will likely buy two Green Pine early warning radar systems made by Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) subsidiary Elta at a cost of $214 million. [MORE]
Better place technology, Elbit systems and the Israeli military
According to Globes, the Israeli military is considering developing a quiet electric vehicle for carrying troops and cargo. Elbit Systems is a leading contender to develop and supply the electric vehicle, based on itâs experience in developing, among other things, electric motors for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The Israeli Ministry of Defense is also considering applying Better Place’s recharging infrastructure at military bases, which could be used for the fleet of electric military vehicles, as well as for civilian electric cars when they become available. [MORE]
Better Place is a firm that aims to reduce dependence on petroleum through the creation of infrastructure for electric vehicles. In 2008, Israel signed on to this project. [MORE]
Aeronautics wins contract with Mexican Federal Police
Aeronautics, based in Yavne, Israel, was chosen by the Federal Police of Mexico to provide advanced ISR systems in several recently signed contracts, estimated to be around $22 million. The contracts include ground and ISR systems such as the Skystar 300 tactical Aerostat system, and Aerial ISR systems such as the Orbiter mini UAV. [MORE]
FREE TRADE AND GOVERNMENT AGREEMENTS
Al-Haq sues British government
Al-Haq, in cooperation with solicitor Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), has filed a claim for judicial review before the High Court of England and Wales challenging the government of the United Kingdom over its failure to fulfill its obligations under international law with respect to Israelâs activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). While al-Haq draws on violations that predate Gaza, the widespread civilian death and destruction caused during âOperation Cast Lead,â coupled with the distinct failure on the part of the international community to take any immediate measures to uphold international law, have forced Al-Haq to challenge third states directly, starting with the UK, in order to seek an end to the âbusiness-as-usualâ approach in relations with Israel.
To read the details of the case and legal basis, see al-Haqâs briefing here.
South Africa workers continue to support BDS
South African dockworkers from the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) achieved a victory when they stood firm by their decision not to offload the Johanna Russ, a ship carrying Israeli goods to South Africa, despite both threats to COSATU members from sections of the pro-Israeli lobby and severe provocation. [MORE]
According to Globes, the Histadrut intends to ask the International Transport Workers’ Federation to help bring about an end to the boycott imposed on Israeli ships by port workers in South Africa. [MORE]
Read the BNC letter to to the South African dockworkers here.
Cairo court rules OKs natural gas to Israel
A Cairo court ruled on Monday that Egyptian gas exports to Israel can continue, pending a review of a November court verdict that the exports should stop. The government had ignored the November verdict anyway and the Israeli company which buys the gas has not complained of any disruption in supplies, used in Israeli power stations. [MORE]
Israel and Egypt signed an agreement for the delivery of seven billion cubic meters of natural gas to Israel over 20 years. Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem owns 28% of EMG, Thai energy giant PTT Public Company Ltd. owns 25%, Egyptian National Gas Company owns 10%, Joseph Maiman owns 20% through Ampal-American Israel Corporation, and Merhav MNF Ltd., Israeli institutional investors owns 4.4%, and US businessmen Sam Zell and David Fisher jointly own 12%. [MORE]
Magal Systems loses contract in Latin American city
Magal Security Systems Ltd. announced that although it had a signed an agreement with a large Latin American municipality with respect to the installation of a $20 million municipal security command and control system, the project was cancelled. The cancellation was due to repetitive delays in the transfer of governmental funds. [MORE]
Israel-Turkey trade severely damaged
The growing tensions between Israel and Turkey have destroyed prolific commerce relations which took years to establish, says Menashe Carmon, chairman of the Israel-Turkey Business Council.
Industry insiders have admitted that the main export lines to Turkey â agriculture and chemicals â have already begun suffering the consequences, as the Turkish government body which subsidizes their contracts declared an embargo on Israeli-made equipment.
Another field of commerce bracing for a blow is that of defense exports. Turkey has one of the largest armies in the world and Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd. and Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a $141 million deal with its air force just days before the diplomatic crisis erupted. [MORE]