CWP Update: Boycott Bill Passes First Reading

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 | 16:20

7 March 2011

Dear friends,

We have been informed that the “Boycott bill” is expected to be voted on in the Knesset Assembly this evening. Taking place on the eve of International Women’s Day, this bill attempts to criminalize many women and men struggling for human rights and a just peace. Below we provide further information on this bill and urge you to take action.
We are also taking this chance to share with you our plans for the International Women’s Day and to draw your attention to the most recent report of Who Profits from the Occupation? featuring SodaStream company as a case study illustrating key issues regarding industrial production in illegal West Bank settlements.

This Evening (March 7th): First Reading Expected for the “Boycott bill” in the Knesset

CWP calls upon all our international allies and supporters to help sustain and increase pressure to strike down this dangerous bill protesting it to Israeli government officials, foreign governments and relevant international institutions. On February 15, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee advanced for first hearing the boycott prohibition bill, stipulating that Israeli citizens must not initiate a boycott in response to the occupation policies of the state of Israel. To be sure, even against the backdrop of the wave of anti-democratic legislation promoted by the 18th Knesset, this bill stands out as an unprecedented attack on civil and political liberties.

The new version of the bill expected to pass at first reading today prohibits what can be interpreted as boycott activities that have the potential of causing economic, cultural or academic damage to a person or an institution in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The new version of the bill changed neither the core nor the expressed motivation of the bill to defend the Israeli settlements in particular from domestic and international boycott (or simple refusal of cooperation), regardless of the fact that settlements constitute a violation of international law.

The Coalition of Women for Peace engaged in a series of actions in order to block this bill: media campaign, coalition-building with civil society organizations, international advocacy and more. A legal opinion by the legal expert and human rights advocate Michael Sfard, solicited by CWP, states that the bill violates the legal safety of individuals and organizations and criminalizes otherwise legitimate tools of democratic civil participation. We have also recruited the endorsement of 53 Israeli organizations, including organizations that do not support boycott measures, for a petition against the bill.

But even someone who believes that a consumer boycott is legitimate while an academic boycott is a despicable tool […] can’t support legislation that involves a consumer boycott directed only at the settlements, or silences anyone who demonstrates or speaks against them. This is what will happen if the bill passes – and its chances are considerable despite the protest of many organizations, headed by the Coalition of Women for Peace and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
Protecting Israel from Its Citizens, by Avirama Golan, Ha’aretz 14 Feb. 2011 http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/protecting-israel-from-its-citizens-1.343274

The new phrasing of the bill has clearly been influenced by the increasing public pressure. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade also expressed their objection. It is now time for the international community to voice its unequivocal support for international law and human rights.

International Women’s Day – Resisting House Demolitions and Violence Against Women

This past year the Israeli authorities continued demolishing the homes of Arab-Palestinian citizens and destroying Bedouin villages, as part of a national plan for land expropriation.

Palestinian women across the country have worked with CWP, taking leadership roles in the struggle to end discriminatory and cruel state policies targeting minority groups. Coalition of Women for Peace is honored to mark the International Women’s Day together with the women of Al Arakib, Jaffa, Sheich Jerrach (East Jerusalem) and the residents of Lod, in a joint protest against house demolitions and all forms of racism and violence against women. Together, we will call: No More Racist Violence! No More Violence Against Women!

A new report by Who Profits exposes: SodaStream misleads consumers by labeling settlement products as ‘Made in Israel

Using SodaStream as a case study, a new report by Who Profits highlights key issues relating to industrial production in illegal West Bank settlements. The report provides an extensive overview, including the identity of the manufacturers, the employment conditions of their workers (Palestinian?), land confiscation policies, and trade in settlement products.

The company, based in Mishor Edomim Industrial Park, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, markets its devices and bottles under a ‘Made in Israel’ label. By doing so, SodaStream (also known as Soda Club), leader in sales of home beverage carbonating devices, misleads consumers in Europe and the United States. The company has recently faced a ruling by the European Court of Justice, stating that goods produced in settlements should not be considered as made in Israel and enjoys the tax exempt of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

To read the full report:
http://www.whoprofits.org/Newsletter.php?nlid=74

Commenting on the previous report of Who Profits, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) stated: “The BNC thanks and warmly salutes the Coalition of Women for Peace and its Who Profits from the Occupation? project, whose valuable and timely research on the A1 train project and complicit companies will facilitate a successful campaign”. [http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/789 ]

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