The following letters were sent to Marrickville Council, Sydney, Australia, in support of their BDS policy ahead of a vote on the policy on Tuesday.
As elected officials who have answered the Palestinian call for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and implemented such policies in the Tudela de Duero, Cigales and Villanueva de Duero municipalities in Valladolid, Spain, we are writing to express our support and solidarity to the efforts currently being undertaken in Marrickville Council in Sydney, Australia.
The international community has failed to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Given this, we feel that it is incumbent on our local community to take action to in support of Palestinian rights under the BDS framework. We have found this experience to be positive, effective and straight-forward.
We first started to pass BDS policy in Tudela de Duero, Cigales and Villanueva de Duero. As supporters of human rights and international law, we were disappointed to learn that one of our suppliers of bottled water, Eden Springs, is directly involved in the theft of water in the Occupied Golan Heights. We allowed our contract with Eden Springs to expire and now use an alternative company. The process was not at all costly and allowed us to ensure that we were receiving value for money. We feel that this is a clear and simple way to signal our opposition to Israel’s occupation, colonisation and apartheid. We would be more than happy to further share our experiences with you.
We were pleased to learn that our friends in Australia have now taken the principled decision to join the BDS movement. Like you, we believe that it is important for local communities to oppose human rights abuses in other parts of the world. Informed by our knowledge of the role of boycott campaigns in ending of South African Apartheid, we are confident that our movement has enormous potential.
We urge you to maintain your BDS policy and to continue to stand alongside us against occupation and oppression and in support of freedom and human dignity.
Edilberto Ruiz Frontela, mayor of Villanueva de Duero
Teodoro Labajo, councillor of Villanueva de Duero
María Ángeles López, councillor of Villanueva de Duero
José Luis Olivar, councillor of Villanueva de Duero
Julián Álvarez González, councillor of Villanueva de Duero
Pilar Fernández, Pastor, mayor of Cigales
Luisa María Rodríguez Cabero, councillor of Cigales
Manuel Escarda, councillor of Cigales
Rosario Medina, councillor of Cigales
Wenceslao Alonso, councillor of Cigales
Salvador Arpa, councillor of Tudela de Duero
María Victoria Moyano Cantalapiedra, councillor of Tudela de Duero
As councillors who have recently successfully moved a motion in support of BDS in Tower Hamlets, London, UK, we stand in full support of our colleagues in Marrickville, Sydney, Australia. In the face of continued Israeli impunity, not least during the recent deadly air strikes over Gaza, citizens and communities have a duty to act.
Tower Hamlets council will not allow Veolia to tender for any future contracts in the area. Veolia is a French multinational that is providing infrastructure for Israel’s illegal settlements, including by building a rail line linking illegal Israeli settlements to Israel. This rail line has been condemned by the UN Human Rights council.
The fact that Veolia supports and profits from Israel’s violent occupation of Palestinian territory makes it unfit to operate in our community. This decision to exclude Veolia from all future contracts was a simple and cost-free one to make, but is an important display of our support for the universal principles of human rights. Tower Hamlets council is now investigating what other similar steps it can take in the future while upholding its duties to local residents.
Boycotts helped to overthrow South African Apartheid, and it can help to overthrow Israeli Apartheid too. We urge Marrickville to continue its important support for the BDS movement. Let us fight together for freedom and equality.
Councillor Fozol Miah, Respect Party councillor for Spitalfields and Banglatown ward, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Councillor Harun Miah, Respect Party councillor for Shadwell ward, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
I am a Councillor on West Dunbartonshire Council in Scotland and want to bring you Solidarity in you ongoing support of the Palestinian people and their just cause. Your valued support to date has quite rightly received world wide publicity. My own Council currently has a boycott of all Israeli goods in support of the Palestinian people. This has been in place for 18 months and will remain in place until revoked by a full Council Meeting.
The plight of the Palestinians can be seen on a daily basis as they try to counter the occupation by Israel. The BDS Global Campaign is critical to their cause. This is an ethical issue for local Council’s like Marrickville and West Dunbartonshire.
Freedom of speech is at the cornerstone of our democracy and I hope this will prevail at your Council meeting on 19/4/2011.
Please continue your support for the Palestinian cause and by doing so you not only support justice but send out a strong signal to your own Constituents that you will fight for just causes and those who the system seeks to crush and disenfranchise.
Cllr Jim Bollan
West Dunbartonshire Council
During the last week we have witnessed an escalation of the violence against the Palestinian people; Israeli fighter jets have dropped bombs over the isolated Gaza Strip, killing dozens of people, including women and children. This is but the last event of the currently longest standing occupation in the world: the 44-year old Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Human rights groups all over the world share a sense of urgency concerning the crimes committed against the Palestinians. The continuous attacks on Gaza, the ever expanding settlements and the refusal of the Israeli government to adhere to international law have underlined the need for the international community to push for an immediate end to the occupation and for a just peace. The legacy of the boycott campaign against South Africa during the 1970- and 80’s that contributed to the fall of the apartheid regime, imbue us with confidence that states as well as city councils, organizations and consumers can play an important part in the struggle for human rights and equality.
Malmoe, the third largest city of Sweden, has recently decided to review the issue of goods from occupied territories. It is our firm belief that we can take action on a local level that has positive consequences for the global movement towards freedom for the Palestinian people.
It has come to our attention that the city council of Marrickville, Sidney, will take a vote on the issue of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. We would like to extend our support for your courageous stand in support of human rights and express our solidarity with city councils in Australia and elsewhere that joins the city of Malmoe and the city council of Marrickville in the support of human rights for the Palestinians.
Deputy Mayors of Malmoe
Dear Marrickville Councillor
I am writing to you to urge you to keep your boycott in place, there are an increasing number of those in the Jewish community around the world who see the actions of the Israeli Government toward Palestine as indefensible and unsustainable, they look to a future when both sides can sit around a table and resolve their differences through dialogue. Their growing support for a boycott is key and through it demonstrates that those calling for such action are not anti-semitic, but are concerned with the actions of the Israeli Government.
But for dialogue to happen the Israeli Government must end its ‘ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and containment policy in Gaza, where residents are currently living without proper facilities or employment in makeshift homes in the shadow of their bombed out houses. As you will know Citizens from my home City of Bristol took part in an humanitarian flotilla which led to the them being shot at and sadly some in the convey losing their lives. That was my motivation for asking Bristol City Council to adopt a similar motion to yours, to register our non-violent opposition to the disproportionate force used against this humanitarian flotilla and that of the people of Palestine.
Of course there is always a cost to any act of principle, some say the policy is too expensive, or its none of our business or will divide people, but no doubt the same was said about South Africa and of course Northern Ireland. Gaza has been referred to as nothing more than an ‘open’ prison and I know from the reports I receive that what keeps them going, and gives them hope is knowing that good people around the World are applying the pressure that so many National Governments have patently failed to do.
So for their sake, please stick to your policy, it will show support for one of the worlds most repressed minorities, it will give encouragement to others is your Country; shows solidarity with many in the Jewish community who yearn for peaceful co-existence between both Israel and Palestine and of course their other arab neighbours.
All the very best from Bristol.
Cllr John Kiely
Liberal Democrat City Councillor
Bristol City Council
Link to motion passed by Bristol Council: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2010/bristol-council-approves-motion-forsanctions-against-israel-747