Saturday, July 19, 2014

Israel-Palestine: This is how it ends - sign at least petition

Dear friends,

As a new round of violence kicks off in Israel-Palestine and more children are killed, it's time to take definitive non-violent action to end this nightmare. Our governments and companies have continued to aid, trade and invest in the violence, but we can help stop it if we call on Dutch pension fund ABP together with other key businesses to pull out their investments aiding injustice and violence -- add your voice now:

As a new round of violence kicks off in Israel-Palestine and more children are killed, it's not enough just to call for another ceasefire. It's time to take definitive non-violent action to end this decades long nightmare.

Our governments have failed -- while they have talked peace and passed UN resolutions, they and our companies have continued to aid, trade and invest in the violence. The only way to stop this hellish cycle of Israel confiscating Palestinian lands, daily collective punishment of innocent Palestinian families, Hamas firing rockets, and Israel bombing Gaza is to make the economic cost of this conflict too high to bear.

We know it works -- when pension fund PGGM and two other Dutch companies withdrew their investments from initiatives that finance activities in Israel's illegal settlements, citing legal concerns, it caused a political storm in Israel. But Dutch pension fund ABP is one of the world's biggest, and it still invests in three of the same Israeli banks that PGGM did. If enough of us raise the alarm we could get ABP to uphold the law and pull out.

This may not feel like a direct way to stop the current killing, but history tells us that raising the financial cost of oppression can pave a path to peace. Click to call on ABP and 5 other key businesses to pull out -- If we all take smart action now and turn up the heat, they could withdraw, the Israeli economy will take a hit, and we can turn the calculation of the extremists politically profiting from this hell upside down:

In the last five weeks three Israeli teenagers were murdered in the West Bank, a Palestinian boy was burnt alive, an American kid was brutally beaten up by Israeli police, and now over 40 Gazan kids have died in Israeli air strikes. This is not the "Middle East conflict", it's becoming a war on children. And we are becoming numb to this global shame.

The media makes out like this is an intractable conflict between two equal warring parties, but it is not. Palestinian extremists' attacks on innocent civilians must be condemned and ended but the root of the conflict lies elsewhere -- in the dispossession of the Palestinian people. Israel currently occupies, colonises, bombs, raids, and controls the water, trade and the borders of a legally free nation that has been recognised by the United Nations. In Gaza, Israel has created the largest open-air prison in the world, and then blockaded it. Now as bombs fall, the families, literally have no way to get out.

These are war crimes and we wouldn't accept that anywhere else, why accept it in Palestine? Half a century ago Israel and its Arab neighbours went to war and Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Occupying territory after war happens all the time. But no military occupation should turn into a decades long tyranny which only fuels and benefits extremists who use terror to target the innocent. And who suffers? The majority of loving families on both sides that just want freedom and peace.

To many, particularly in Europe and North America, calling for companies to withdraw investments from Israel sounds completely biased. But it's not -- this is the most potent non-violent strategy to end the ritual violence, ensure Israelis' security and achieve Palestinian freedom. Israel's power and wealth dwarfs Palestine, and if it refuses to end its illegal occupation, the world must act to make the cost unbearable.

Several major Dutch companies have refused to be complicit in the Israeli seizure of Palestinian lands. The water company Vitens cancelled cooperation with state-owned Israeli company Mekorot, and engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV withdrew from a project in occupied East Jerusalem. But pension fund ABP still invests in three large Israeli banks that help fund and enable the colonisation of Palestine -- from financing construction projects on lands taken illegally from Palestinians, to providing mortgages to the settlers who move in. PGGM recently pulled its investment from these banks, citing concerns about the legality of these settlements, and saying they were an obstacle to peace.

Let's create a mega call from across the Netherlands for ABP to pull out now, and show clearly that we will no longer be complicit in this oppression. The Palestinian people are calling on the world to support this path and progressive Israelis support it, too. Let's join them:

The Avaaz community is calling on a number of funds, banks and businesses across the world to divest. Massive banks like Barclays invest in suppliers of Israeli arms and other occupation businesses. British G4S provides extensive security equipment used by the Israeli Defence Force in the occupation. France's Veolia operates transport for Israeli settlers illegally living on Palestinian lands. Computer giant Hewlett-Packard supplies sophisticated surveillance to control the movement of Palestinians. And Caterpillar provides bulldozers that are used to demolish Palestinian homes and farms.

Our community has worked to bring peace, hope, and change to some of the world's toughest conflicts, and often that means taking difficult positions to address the root cause. For years our community has looked for a political solution to this nightmare, but with this new round of horror unfolding in Gaza, the time has come to turn to sanctions and disinvestment to finally help end the horror for Israelis and Palestinians.

With hope and determination,

Alice, Fadi, Ben, Laila, Anna, Ricken, Jo, Nell, Mais and the entire Avaaz team


Under pressure, a strong EU-Israel relationship faces uncertain future

Israel-Gaza conflict: 80 per cent of Palestinians killed by Israeli strikes are civilians, UN report says (The Independent)

Dutch engineering giant cancels East Jerusalem project (Haaretz)

Council conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process (Council of the European Union)

Response to parliamentary questions posed by member Van Bommel regarding settlement expansion by Israel

Palestinians: Most Gaza dead are children, women, elderly (Haaretz)

Rule 156. Definition of War Crimes (ICRC)

UN independent expert calls for boycott of businesses profiting from Israeli settlements (UN)

12 more EU countries warn against trade with Israeli settlements (Haaretz)

Caught on Tape: US Teen Allegedly Beaten by Israeli Police (ABC News)

Israelis, Palestinians Pro Peace Process, but Not Hopeful (Gallup)

Exposing the Israeli Occupation Industry

Additional sources for this campaign:

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