More bans on BDS by big chiefs

March 23, 2017
Sarah Benton


Both the stories here, Swiss parliament and Turin university, feature on the Twitter site, #bds fail



Protesters in Ramallah denounce Swiss anti-BDS bill

Protesters against anti-BDS vote outside Swiss mission, Ramallah.

By Ma’an news
March 20/21, 2017

RAMALLAH — Protesters organized a sit-in on Monday in front of the Swiss mission in Ramallah to denounce a bill seeking to halt government funding for organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Switzerland’s National Council, the lower chamber of its Federal Assembly, voted in favour of the bill earlier this month. The legislation needs to pass through a vote in the Council of States in May in order to become law, Israeli media reported at the time.

One of the organizers of the protest, Issam Bakr, told reporters during the sit-in that the Swiss government was taking a “dangerous decision to go after BDS activists.”

A statement signed by several Palestinian political factions called the Swiss move an “obvious breach of human justice and values.”

The statement highlighted that the BDS movement came in response to escalating Israeli “aggression, Judaization campaigns, settlement expansion, ethnic cleansing, and daily murder” against Palestinians.

“Our people’s rights are inalienable including the right of return, self-determination, and statehood,” the statement added.

Protesters against BDS ban outside Swiss mission, Ramallah. Photo ActiveStills

The BDS movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.

BDS has gained momentum over the years, with activists targeting companies that act in compliance with Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Israeli government has grown increasingly concerned about the growth of the BDS movement, as the movement’s support base has expanded to include companies, universities, and religious institutions around the world divesting from organizations complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.

Earlier this month, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed an amendment into law forbidding entry into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory to foreigners calling for a boycott of Israel.

Swiss legislature passes bill to stop funding for boycotts of Israel

The measure was introduced by Christian Imark, a National Council deputy from the conservative Swiss People’s Party. It passed 111- 78.

By Benjamin Weinthal, JPost
March 09, 2017

Switzerland’s National Council – the lower chamber of the legislature – passed a bill on Wednesday to stop government funding of organizations that promote boycotts of Israel and spread antisemitism and racism.

The measure will be submitted in May to the Council of States, the upper chamber of the legislature, which will decide whether it becomes law.

Olga Deutsch, director of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor’s Europe Desk, told The Jerusalem Post:

“Today’s positive developments in Switzerland mark a milestone in seriously countering BDS campaigns, antisemitism and hatred, by equating them in the motion. The motion sets an important precedent. NGO Monitor was instrumental in providing details to Swiss decision-makers regarding their government’s funding of organizations that oppose official Swiss foreign policy, such as NGOs that propagate anti-normalization, BDS, and one-state frameworks.

“This is a perfect opportunity for Israeli and European officials to capitalize on the Swiss example and work together on guidelines and evaluation mechanisms that contribute to positive change in addressing this serious issue.”

The measure was introduced by Christian Imark, a National Council deputy from the conservative Swiss People’s Party. It passed 111- 78.

Dominik Feusi, a senior editor with the Basler Zeitung newspaper, first announced the groundbreaking motion on Twitter

8 Mar 2017
89 Retweets 138 likes

Imark’s motion to slash funding for organizations that boycott Israel appears to the first national parliamentary act in Europe to blunt economic and political warfare targeting the Jewish state.

The head of the Federal Council, Didier Burkhalter from the FPD Liberal party, opposes the measure. According to an article in the Zurich-based Weltwoche weekly, Burkhalter, who oversees the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, blames only Israel for the collapse of the peace process.

Feusi published a series of eye-popping investigative reports over the past year on alleged financial misconduct in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The Swiss government provided funds in December to the US- and EU-designated terrorist organization Hamas for a conference in Geneva. Switzerland’s government funnelled nearly $60 million to diverse projects in the Middle East, many of which are shrouded in secrecy.

Swiss government money flowed to the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, which advocates the boycott of the Jewish state. Switzerland – in contrast to the US, Canada and the EU – does not recognize Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.

Switzerland also funds the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, which routinely calls for the arrest of Israeli politicians and compares Israel with the former apartheid regime in South Africa, and Al-Haq, a Ramallah-based legal centre that engages in lawfare against the Jewish state.

According to NGO Monitor:

“The Swiss government, directly through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (managed by the Institute of Law at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah and the NIRAS consulting firm in Sweden), provides core-funding to a network of organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada and Israel.

“From 2013 to 2016, the IHL Secretariat provided a total of $2.38m. to organizations directly affiliated with the PFLP, while the Swiss government’s contribution amounted to approximately one-quarter of the total secretariat budget. The IHL Secretariat distributes 56% of its budget to NGOs that advocate for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaigns against Israel.”

Silvia Müller, a spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, told the Post that “Switzerland decisively condemns calls for hate, violence, forms of racism and antisemitism.”

She said that “Switzerland works together with organizations that uphold democratic values and principles and work for human rights and humanitarian international law.”

BDS Switzerland slammed the anti-boycott motion because “its goal is to ban financial support for human rights organization in the context of Israel/Palestine.”

The group said the motion is an attack on the Palestinian population, freedom of speech and organizations that work for human rights.

Italian academics reject anti-Israel boycotts

By Emanuele G. Dalla Torre, JPost
March 19, 2017

The BDS movement has recently been in the headlines in Italy, but luckily it’s receiving the proper backlash it deserves.

Italian Jews know well that Haman, of the Book of Esther, was not the last villain to try to exterminate all Jews. Eighty years ago, my grandfather, whose name I bear, fled Italy to escape the Nazi-Fascist regime.

Today, many consider the contemporary anti-Israel boycott movement (also known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement) as the new manifestation of this never-ending agenda.

Each antisemitic movement has its own character, but there are common features that link them together.

The most obvious of these is their view of Jews as evil, and the belief that their elimination will redeem the world. Another one, sometimes less obvious, is that all these attempts eventually fail.

The BDS movement in Italy has recently been in the headlines. On March 1, the student council of Turin University passed – by a large majority – a motion asking their university to revoke the agreement of collaboration and student exchange with Haifa’s Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Just a few days before, the BDS movement organized an event at Campidoglio, the site of the Municipality of Rome. The topic, “Gaza, let’s break the siege,” and the participation of one of the organizers of the Gaza flotilla made clear the agenda of the meeting – to accuse Israel of stripping Gaza citizens of their freedom.

I was unaware of these facts during my recent visit to Università La Sapienza in Rome, where I had been invited to deliver a seminar about my scientific work on coupled Kapitza pendula (which, by the way, is an interesting subject in its own right). Entering the department of physics, I was shocked to see a huge poster, containing a photo of an Israeli soldier threatening a group of Palestinian civilians with a baton, inviting students to attend an event organized by the Center for Documentation of Palestine. The poster referenced a quote explaining that Palestinians are at risk of being uprooted from their land.

The poster badly hurt my feelings, as they would have for any other Israeli citizen, and I decided to write a letter of protest to the rector of the university, Prof. Eugenio Gaudio. Luckily, in the age of the Internet, it is not necessary to fast three days to communicate with the king, and my message was immediately received by the rector, and by other influential people in the scientific community.

WHEN I received a reply from the rector, I breathed a sigh of relief. He expressed his sympathy for my disappointment.

He further stressed that his institution had signed important collaboration agreements with Israeli institutions, and he defined his university’s relationship with Israel as “coherent and unchanged over time.”

Meanwhile, thanks to the pressure of the Jewish Community of Rome, the event at Campidoglio was cancelled. The rector of Turin University, Prof Gianmaria Ajani, rebuked the letter of the student organization, and pointed out that her university’s collaboration agreement with the Technion focuses on healthcare, rather than weapons.

Turin University subsequently forbade its students to hold the conference, whose explicit goal was “to educate citizens about apartheid in the State of Israel.”

As there is no apartheid in Israel, such a meeting would have, indeed, been useless.

With these acts, the Italian institution made a clear statement against the BDS movement. The news was one more reason to rejoice this past Purim. (And to work harder in the future to explain our cause in Italy and around the world.)

The author is an Italian Jew and senior lecturer at the Department of Physics of Bar-Ilan University

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