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Posts Tagged ‘Occupied Palestine

Veolia sells off all Israeli operations: Another victory to BDS movement

Occupied Palestine and the West Bank, 1 September 2015 —

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its worldwide partners are celebrating the withdrawal of the huge French corporation Veolia from the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR), an illegal rail system built to facilitate the growth and expansion of Israeli colonial settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.

The sale of its stake in the JLR project ends all of Veolia’s involvement in the Israeli market, including all projects that violate international law and the human rights of the Palestinian people.

The sale follows an extensive 7-year boycott campaign against Veolia, due to its complicity in the Israeli occupation, which cost it tenders around the world estimated to be worth over $20 billion.

Veolia sold nearly all of its business operations in Israel in April 2015 but had until now remained a 5% shareholder in the JLR project.

On Thursday evening, the human rights research group Who Profits reported that Veolia had liquidated its 5% share in the JLR project. Under BDS pressure, Veolia has failed to win massive contracts with local authorities across Europe, the US and Kuwait.

City councils across Europe have passed resolutions excluding the firm from tenders due to its involvement in Israeli human rights violations.

Following Israel’s massacre in Gaza in the summer of 2014, for instance, Kuwait’s city council excluded Veolia from a tender for the treatment of solid waste worth $750 million.

Veolia executives have admitted that the campaign has cost the company “important contracts”, and financial analysts have repeatedly spoken about the financial cost of the campaign to Veolia.

By the end of 2013, Veolia’s investment rating was reduced to “junk” status as a result of its reported massive debt of over $20 billion –almost equal to the total value of tenders lost by Veolia by then.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) General Coordinator, Mahmoud Nawajaa, described Veolia’s complete withdrawal from illegal Israeli projects as a victory for all human rights campaigners who have pressured the company: “Strategic and dedicated campaigning by the BDS movement has forced one of Europe’s biggest companies to abandon the Israeli market.”

“Veolia’s withdrawal from Israel sets an example to all companies that are complicit in Israel’s human rights violations. This is a victory for the BDS movement and all our partners from other rights movements who have helped in pressuring the company.”

Nawajaa added, “We call for legal action, by specialized organizations, against Veolia to compel it to pay reparations to the Palestinian communities adversely affected by its infringements of international law.”

The JLR is considered one of the most infamous colonial Israeli attempts to normalize and strengthen Israel’s hold on occupied East Jerusalem and tie the city’s settlements even more firmly into the state of Israel.

The United Nations Human Rights Council considered the project a service to Israel’s illegal colonies in the OPT. Veolia’s involvement in it, among other similarly illegal Israeli operations, had rendered the company complicit in Israel’s violations of international law.

The BDS campaign against Veolia was launched in Bilbao, the Basque region, in November 2008, to pressure the company to end its involvement in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.

In 2007, French solidarity group AFPS and the Palestine Liberation Organization took the company to court in France to compel it to end its complicity in Israel’s violations of international law.

As well as its involvement in the JLR, Veolia had also been targeted for its role in waste, water and bus services for illegal Israeli settlements.

Veolia transferred control of these projects to other companies as the campaign pressure on it mounted.

Riya Hassan, the BNC’s Europe coordinator, said, “Veolia is still a target for union activists, environmentalists and anti-privatization campaigners, due to its record of anti-labour policies and involvement in the privatization of public water. All those still being affected by Veolia’s policies and struggling for accountability and reparations can continue to count on our solidarity. The BDS movement takes cross-struggle solidarity to heart.”

– See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2015/bds-marks-another-victory-as-veolia-sells-off-all-israeli-operations-13270#sthash.4d2MsArk.dpuf

Asad Ghsoub shared this link of Samah Idriss

…وفي الأثناء يحتفل ناشطو مقاطعة “إسرائيل” بأكبر إنجاز لهم منذ تأسيس حملتهم (BDS) قبل عشر سنوات: انسحاب الشركة الفرنسية العملاقة “فيوليا” من كل مشاريعها في الكيان الغاصب، بعد سبع سنوات من العمل الكثيف الذي خاضه الناشطون، وأدّى الى خسارة فيوليا أكثر من 26 بليون دولار من العقود في العالم (بما في ذلك في دولة الكويت)، بسبب سعيها إلى بناء سكك حديدية تربط المستوطنات بالقدس (بما يتعارض مع “القانون الدولي” نفسه).
هذا هو احد الملامح الأبرز لما ينبغي أن يكون عليه “الربيعُ” العربيّ الحقيقي. لا ربيعَ حقيقيًّا خارج الإسهام في تحرير فلسطين وهزيمة الصهيونية. العمل على الخلاص من سلطاتنا وفسادنا وزبالتنا (المادية والمعنوية) ينبغي أن يتلازم ويترافق مع العمل على الخلاص من الزبالة الكبرى في منطقتنا: “إسرائيل”.

Occupied Palestine, 1 September 2015 — The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)…
bdsmovement.net

Is waving Palestinian flag a ‘racial slur’? Houston stadium and Buthayna Hammad

Last Sunday, Palestinian-American Buthayna Hammad attended a soccer match at BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston’s downtown 22,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, home to the Houston Dynamo.

About 15 minutes after the game started Hammad was approached by the head of Compass Stadium’s security Nathan Buchanan.

Soon she encountered a total of 8 security officials, four from stadium security and the other four, Houston police officers.

Buthayna Hammad

Buthayna Hammad

Why? because she was waving a Palestinian flag. Stadium security informed her that her Palestinian flag implied a “racial slur” and therefore was in violation of BBVA Compass Stadium rules.

Hammad, a native of Houston, is an avid soccer fan.

She attended the match with her “alt family from Honduras” including her Honduran boyfriend. The match was between Israel and Honduras.

The implications of this story are mind-numbing, and we’ll discuss that later.

First, in Buthayna Hammad’s own words, cited in Free Press Houston (FPR): “Mere Existence of Palestine Deemed a ‘Threatening Racial Slur’ by the Houston Dynamo Organization.”

I wore a Honduras jersey and was eager to cheer on this team, dressed to represent Honduras. To represent my own heritage as a Palestinian-American, I also brought my Palestinian flag.

I made sure my flag was allowed (based on the size, etc.) and I was all ready to go. For the first 15 minutes of the match I stood up and cheered and stomped my feet with the rest of the crowd chanting “HON-DU-RAS” and waving my Palestinian flag, my colors vibrant and loud against a sea of blue and white…and apparently also racist.

I was told I had to sit down, which I did, only to be told to get back up again and follow the manager of security away from the stadium seats and into the concession area.

I followed, and there waiting for me were three more BBVA security personnel and four police officers. When I asked them what was wrong, the manager of security, Nathan Buchanan, told me I am not allowed to carry this flag because it implies a “racial slur” and it is in BBVA Compass Stadium violation.

I asked him to show me evidence of his accusations and asked him how my flag, a part of my identity as a Palestinian-American, implies a racial slur.

He could not answer whether he did not know or could not articulate why he was ordered to remove my flag and me from my seat. I was getting very emotional at this point, I had my flag wrapped around my neck like a scarf, and he said he would take my flag and “check it in” for me, that I was not permitted to return to my seat until I surrendered my flag.

BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston Texas

It’s almost too strange to believe. In a 22,000 seat stadium, security officials concerned themselves over Hammad waving her flag.

Another publication, Houston Press, (Security Didn’t Want Her Waving Palestinian Flag During Israel Game in Houston) attempted to contact the security manager Nathan Buchanan, but he’s not making himself available.

A spokeswoman for BBVA Compass Stadium, Gina Rotola, appears to be walking back the inflammatory “racist” allegation. She told Houston Press that “A national flag from any country cannot be a racial slur, so if any statement of that nature were used, it would have been made incorrectly by an individual trying to deescalate a situation.”

Which begs the question, deescalate what situation?

Gina Rotola runs a PR boutique agency in Houston, in part specializing in media management, branding, and crisis communication. So what kind of excuse rationale did she come up with?

“[T]he decision to not allow the Palestinian flag to be displayed during the game was based on the sole intention of maintaining the safety of those in attendance.

The flag bearer was instigating the crowd, and we felt it was important to diffuse a potentially volatile situation as emotions began to escalate. We instructed the patron that she could retain her flag but should refrain from waving it in front of fans from the other teams.”

That makes no sense.

Fans frequently wave flags at sports games and Hammad said she made sure her Palestinian flag complied with stadium regulations. What does “waving it in front of fans from the other teams” mean in a stadium this size?

FPR’s Harbeer Sandhu asked Rotolo how Hammad was instigating the crowd. Her response?

Astoundingly, Rotolo said that Hamad was waving her flag “in front of Israeli supporters” causing “emotions to escalate.” 

I have never been to a match at a sports stadium where emotions didn’t escalate, ever.  Who contacted security that day? Who complained about the flag?

Sandhu connects the dots any logical person might consider:

It is now considered “racist” for an American of Palestinian descent to wave her flag at fans of the Israeli soccer team.

The First Amendment can be suspended in a stadium built with taxpayer money because some Israeli soccer fans might be moved to violence by the mere sight of the Palestinian flag.

The good people of the Houston Dynamo Organization think that it is “racist” to merely remind Israeli soccer fans that Palestine exists.

I am trying to imagine what the complaint sounded like.  “Excuse me, Mr. Buchanan, that flag over there is really pissing me off–causing emotional distress–and I might have to hurt the lady holding it so you better get four cops to impound that flag or else I’m going to beat her up and it will be all her fault.”

What or who could have overridden Nathan Buchanan’s common sense in the stadium that day and caused eight security personnel to assemble for the purpose of confiscating a national flag from an enthusiastic sports fan?

And more importantly, is it enough for BBVA Compass Stadium (parent company the Anschutz Entertainment Group)  to issue a statement from a crisis management professional sans any formal apology to Buthayna Hammad?

In her own words:

The Israeli government has banned Palestinians from hanging their flags outside their home, and arrests the occupants of the home for having it on display on their own land.

Every day, in Occupied Palestine, Palestinians are denied entry to neighboring villages, to schools or their family’s home and in many cases to hospitals thanks to Israel’s apartheid state.

Yes “apartheid,” that word implies racism, yet my flag implies a racial slur? I asked him several times if I could go back to my seat and he would spread his arms out to create a blockade with his body and his arms so I could not pass.

“This is private property,” he said.

I told him I paid for a ticket to enter. I could not keep my eyes from gathering tears, but forced myself from letting them fall.

“What country are we in again?” I asked. “Just because Israel is playing a match, does that mean you should treat me this way? Because of my Palestinian identity? I am a U.S. Citizen!”

Buthayna Hammad was eventually allowed to return to her seat after missing the first half of the game. A compromise was offered whereby Hammad was allowed to keep her flag as long as she didn’t wave it.

Echoing Hammad, What country are we in again?

And where’s the national press on this story? Is it fair to ask, had this been an Israeli flag would the NYT be covering it? Everyone would be on it.

The ADL, Houston Chronicle, and where is ESPN?


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