Children say Boycott Hyundai

Campaign Cites Company’s Complicity in Demolition of Palestinian Homes & Violations of International Law

Palestinian human rights defenders launch #BoycottHyundai campaign to end its involvement in Israel’s “ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and the Naqab”

Campaign seeks to cut Hyundai’s sales, induce divestment and tender exclusions

Campaign urges Korean labor unions to pressure Hyundai to end its complicity in human rights violations

Chair of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel: Hyundai is an “actively complicit” in the “Israeli crime of home demolitions”

February 7, 2017, Haifa — Today, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) launched a campaign calling on Palestinians, other Arabs, and “people of conscience worldwide” to boycott the products of the South Korean company, Hyundai, until it “ends its involvement in Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinian people, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).”

BDS48 is a newly-formed group of human rights defenders, founded by Palestinian citizens of Israel. Their #BoycottHyundai campaign is the first such Palestinian-led BDS campaign for corporate responsibility launched from within Israel and specifically focusing on Israeli violations of Palestinian rights beyond the 1967 occupied Palestinian territory.

The call comes in response to the extensive use of Hyundai machinery by Israeli authorities in their recent demolitions of homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab (Negev) and in the city of Qalansawe, further north.

Mohammad Barakeh, the President of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the broadest coalition of Palestinian political parties and local councils in Israel, commented:

Hyundai equipment is used by the Israeli government to demolish Palestinian homes on both sides of the Green Line, in what we see as an assault on our lives and our homes. Hyundai is actively complicit in these crimes. We call on Hyundai to stop doing business with any perpetrators of crimes against humans; otherwise, the company will be increasingly recognized as a partner in crime.

A spokesperson for BDS48 explained:

Hyundai has for years ignored the mounting evidence of its persistent complicity in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian and Syrian communities in the 1967 occupied territories. It has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

BDS48 is launching this Boycott Hyundai campaign as part of the wave of peaceful popular resistance against the recent escalation of the crimes committed by the Israeli regime of oppression against our people. Hyundai is knowingly profiting from Israel’s apartheid policies and serious violations of international law.

Human rights campaigners have highlighted the involvement of Hyundai in Umm al-Hiran, where Israeli armed forces destroyed many homes on January 18, 2017, “forcibly removing its Bedouin Palestinian population, injuring tens of peaceful protesters, and murdering the educator Yaquob Abu al-Qiyan in cold blood.”

A Bedouin Palestinian BDS activist, whose name is withheld for security reasons, stated:

The objective of this bloody Israeli conquest of Umm al-Hiran is to uproot its indigenous Bedouin Palestinian community for the second time since the 1948 Nakba, in order to establish a Jewish-only colony on the ethnically cleansed village’s land. Hyundai is involved in a war crime.

Israel’s latest crime is part of an ongoing policy of ethnic cleansing that Israel has adopted since 1948 and that has led to the forcible displacement of most of the indigenous Palestinian people from our ancestral land. The Nakba continues, and so does our steadfastness and popular resistance.

Israel has more than 60 racist laws that legalize and institutionalize its special form of apartheid against its indigenous Palestinian citizens. As during the global resistance to apartheid in South Africa, we are calling on the world to boycott corporations that are enabling Israeli apartheid. BDS has proven its strategic importance in the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.

BDS48 hopes to rally Arab and worldwide support, particularly among churches, labor unions and local councils, for its Boycott Hyundai campaign to pressure the company to end its involvement in Israel’s violations of human rights. It is also calling on Korean labor unions to pressure Hyundai to stop “its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations.”

The group’s spokesperson said:

Just as several multinational giants, like Veolia, Orange, CRH, and most recently G4S, were compelled under effective BDS pressure to end their involvement in Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, so will Hyundai. It is just a matter of time and strategic campaigning.

Notes:

1) Hyundai equipment has been used in the demolition of Palestinian homes, particularly in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, Beit Hanina, Surbaher, al-Issawiyya and at-Tur. A leading UN official has compared Israeli policies in occupied Jerusalem to the policies of the defunct South African apartheid regime.

2) Human rights defenders have documented Israel’s use of Hyundai equipment in the construction of Israel’s illegal settlements, such as Halamish, near Ramallah, and the Barkan industrial zone, in the northern West Bank. Israel’s settlement policy, which was recently condemned by the UNSC resolution 2334, constitutes a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

3) As documented by the human rights organization Adalah, the Israeli authorities allowed the creation of the village, Atir-Umm al-Hiran, to house the Bedouin Palestinians who were forcibly displaced during the 1948 Nakba – and who became citizens of Israel — from their original village, Khirbet Zubaleh. In 2015, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plan to forcibly displace the Palestinian community again from “Umm al-Hiran” to build a Jewish-only colony called Hiran.

4) In 2012, then UN Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, international law expert Richard Falk, called on the UN General Assembly to endorse a boycott of international corporations that are complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Falk’s list of companies included Caterpillar and Volvo, due to their involvement in the construction of Israeli colonies and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Hyundai is accused of involvement in similar crimes.

Watch the BDS48 #BoycottHyundai campaign video by clicking here.
Watch the video of Hyundai’s involvement in Israeli home demolitions in Isawiya, Jerusalem, by clicking here.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) is a human rights group founded by Palestinian citizens of Israel. Based in Haifa, it supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for freedom, justice and equality of all Palestinians. Visit https://bds48blog.wordpress.com and follow us on Twitter @1948BDS

— source bdsmovement.net

Europe’s Largest Pension Funds Heavily Invested in Illegal Israeli Settlements

Europe’s five largest pension funds have €7.5 billion invested in companies with business activities in and around illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. This is at odds with United Nations guidelines, clear warnings from 18 European countries, and undermines the two-state solution, experts warn.

European investors have billions of euro invested in companies with activities in and around illegal Israeli settlements, according to a new investigation from Danwatch that screened the investment portfolios of Europe’s top five pension fund managers.

Statens pensjonsfond utland (Oljefondet) (NO), Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP (NE), Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (NE), Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension (DK), and Alecta Pensionsförsäkring (SE) have a total of €7.5 billion invested in 36 Israeli and international publicly-traded companies, most of which have long been under public scrutiny because of their activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Hugh Lovatt, expert on Israel and Palestine at the respected think-tank European Council on Foreign Relations, explains the problem with settlements:

“Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal and have led to the dispossession of Palestinians and the fragmentation of Palestinian land. They infringe on Palestinian rights and exploit Palestinian natural resources.”

Business activities in and around settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are not necessarily against the law, but according to the United Nations, investors are obliged to carry out enhanced due diligence and to demonstrate that their activities do not contribute to negative effects on human rights.
Warning from European governments

In addition, 18 European countries warn their citizens and businesses in no uncertain terms against undertaking financial and economic activities that could support illegal Israeli settlements.

“Financial transactions, investments, purchases, tenders, and other economic activities (including services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements are associated with legal and economic risks due to the fact that, according to international law, the Israeli settlements are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a lawful part of Israel’s territory,” wrote the Danish Foreign Ministry in a 2014 statement similar to statements published by other countries.

“One should also be aware of possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights,” the statement warns and refers to OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2011) and United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights (2011).
Undermining the two-state solution

In addition to the “increased risk of adverse human rights impacts”, as the UN puts it, European investors are also actively undermining the official policy of the EU regarding a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“When European investors finance, fund or facilitate the settlement enterprise and illegal actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, they are contributing to the undermining of the two-state solution and therefore the undermining of the EU’s own foreign policy objectives,” [said] Policy fellow Hugh Lovatt at the European Council for Foreign Relations states to Danwatch.

“And these investments are illegal under international law – or at least very problematic – and exposes European investors to reputational, financial and legal risks,” says Lovatt.

Investments in companies with business activities in and around settlements tie European investors to potential violations of international humanitarian law and Palestinians’ human rights.

Lars Erslev Andersen, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), agrees that it is problematic when companies have activities in settlements.

“In my opinion, businesses that have branches or factories in the occupied Palestinian territories help to maintain the occupation and facilitate Israel’s continued construction of settlements, infrastructure and security apparatus in the West Bank,” Andersen tells Danwatch.

“This is problematic, because it undermines the two-state solution, which is gradually becoming an illusion for a great number of people,” [said] Lars Erslev Andersen, senior researcher at DIIS.

Norwegian fund biggest investor

The largest single investor by far is Statens Pensjonsfond Utland, the Government Pension Fund of Norway, with €5.2 billion out of the total €7.5 billion invested in all 36 companies on Danwatch’s list.

This includes €135 million in Caterpillar, which supplies bulldozers for the demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories; €286 million in HeidelbergCement, which has been blacklisted by several other European investors due to exploitation of Palestinian natural resources; and €1.5 billion in Siemens, which has installed traffic systems on Israeli roads in the West Bank and placed bids on projects on occupied territory with Israel Railways.

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund also has €233 million in five Israeli banks financing settlement construction and operating in the West Bank in various ways: Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel Ltd, Israel Discount Bank Ltd and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd.

These same banks are blacklisted by Europe’s third largest pension fund Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW) (NE) which in 2014 ended several years of dialogue.

“Given the day-to-day reality and domestic legal framework they operate in, the banks have limited to no possibilities to end their involvement in the financing of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” wrote PFZW (formerly PGGM) about the decision to divest from Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot because they finance settlements and operate branches on occupied territory.

Danwatch asked The Norwegian Government Pension Fund specific questions about each of their investments in the 36 specific companies, but received no specific reply. Instead the fund answers in general terms about how they expect companies they invest in to strive to observe “the G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the UN Global Compact.”

“Our expectations are especially relevant for companies with direct operations, supply chains or other business relationships in high-risk sectors, high-risk geographical areas, or otherwise high-risk operational environments,” they explain.

The Norwegian oil fund’s decisions about excluding specific companies is regulated by an independent council appointed by the Norwegian Ministry of Finance.

New findings will be considered

Of the five largest European pension funds, Denmark’s ATP is by far the smallest investor in companies on Danwatch’s list, with about €1 million in total in Siemens and The Priceline Group Inc, the owner of booking.com, which facilitates hotels in a number of settlements. However, ATP’s publicly available stock portfolio does not include index futures, which amounts to almost 95% of ATP’s entire foreign holdings.

On the two specific investments, ATP explains that Danwatch’s findings includes new information not covered by their external screening partner, and that they will have to consider this before they can answer specific questions.

Sweden’s largest pension fund, and Europe’s fifth-largest, Alecta Pensionsförsäkring, only has investments in one company on Danwatch’s list: Volvo Group. The Swedish industrial conglomerate partly owns Merkavim, which provides armoured busses for Egged bus lines in the West Bank, where Volvo busses are also used for transport. Two Volvo-certified garages operate in the illegal industrial zones of Mishor Adumim and Atarot in the occupied West Bank. Furthermore, Volvo excavators are used by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian houses on occupied land, as documented in February, April and October 2016 in the Palestinian villages of Jinba, Halaweh, Um Al Kher and in the Jordan Valley. Danwatch presented these findings to Volvo Group, but received no reply.

On the subject of house demolitions, Volvo Group stated in 2011 that “Volvo neither can nor wants to take a position in international conflicts […] We regret if they are used for destructive purposes, but it does not stop us from believing that our excavators and vehicles largely play a part in making the world a little better.”

Alecta Pensionsförsäkring explains to Danwatch that their due diligence is outsourced to external partner GES, and that GES confirm their knowledge about the issue and have concluded that Volvo Group’s activities is not a breach against international conventions.

“Volvo has limited possibilities to influence how their products are used and we believe that Volvo cannot be directly linked to human rights violations,” Swedish investor Alecta therefore tells Danwatch.

“Alecta has an active and ongoing dialogue with Volvo as well as with our external partner GES and has so far not received any indication pointing towards an exclusion. If necessary we will as a first priority engage further in our dialogue with Volvo to make them comply with international law, rather than exclude them as an investment,” Alecta says.

Danwatch also contacted the two Dutch pension funds Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP and Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW), but received no reply.

— source bdsmovement.net By Mikkel Bahl, Hanan Chemlali & Kristoffer Marslev

Palestinians Mark “Land Day” as Israel Plans New West Bank Settlement

in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinians throwing rocks clashed with Israeli soldiers Thursday, who responded with volleys of tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. The protests came on “Land Day,” marking the anniversary of the 1976 killing of six Palestinians protesting the Israeli confiscation of Arab land. The protests came as Israel’s Security Cabinet voted late Thursday to approve construction of Israel’s first new settlement in the occupied West Bank in over two decades.

— source democracynow.org

Israel demolishes every home in West Bank Bedouin village

Israeli forces have demolished every home in the Bedouin village of Khirbet Taha in the northern West Bank district of Nablus during three separate demolitions since the start of the year.

Unlike most Bedouin villages, the residents in Khirbet Taha own their own land. However that land falls in Area C, territory in the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control.

The village’s only school was also destroyed, leaving children to study in a dilapidated 100-year-old mosque — the only structure left standing in the village.

According the United Nations, Israel has demolished half as many Palestinian buildings in the first few months of 2016, as they had in all of 2015. In February alone, the UN found that more Palestinians homes were destroyed than any other month since 2009, when the organization began its documentation.

— source mondoweiss.net By Sheren Khalel, Abed Al Qaisi

What is BDS?

BDS stands for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (and not, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed, for “bigotry, dishonesty and shame”).

The BDS movement’s three aims are grounded in international law and fundamental rights.

It seeks to end the occupation and dismantle Israel’s illegal wall and settlements, demands full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and calls for the rights of Palestinian refugees to be upheld.
When did it start and why?

The BDS movement began when a coalition of 170 Palestinian civil society groups issued a call to “people of conscience” around the world on July 9, 2005.

Palestinians argue that a global citizens’ movement is necessary because – despite decades of “peace process” facade – political leaders have failed to end Israel’s settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing and apartheid practices. In fact, they continue to enable them.

Therefore, only bottom-up pressure from ordinary people will force governments to end Israel’s impunity and help create a just peace based on freedom, justice and equality.
What has the BDS movement achieved?

In the decade since its launch, the BDS movement has gradually accumulated successes around the world, from US churches to UK campuses, Egyptian trade unions to the Bolivian government.

In the economic sphere, Veolia and G4S – multinational corporations involved in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians – lost billions of dollars due to BDS campaigns and announced withdrawals from Israel. Foreign direct investment into Israel dropped 46 percent in 2014.

Tens of thousands of students globally have pushed forward the academic boycott, backed by figures such as Stephen Hawking, Angela Davis and Judith Butler. Meanwhile, the likes of author Alice Walker, ex-Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters and critically acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach have lent their support to the cultural boycott.

Importantly, the BDS movement has also been endorsed by anti-colonial Israelis and other Jewish groups, as well as Black Lives Matter.
Is BDS racist?

Some of Israel’s defenders claim that BDS is racist. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

Far from targeting individuals on the grounds of ethnicity or nationality, BDS targets institutions on the grounds of complicity in human rights violations and explicitly opposes all forms of racism. That’s precisely why it seeks to end Israel’s entrenched system of racial discrimination and ethnic privilege.

In this sense, BDS is comparable with – and takes direct inspiration from – the historic anti-apartheid movement which helped to isolate South Africa globally and end white rule.
Who opposes BDS?

Since around 2010, Israel has stepped up its fight against BDS and so-called “de-legitimisation”. In 2011, the Knesset passed a draconian law against advocating boycotts within Israel. But internationally, this was counterproductive.

By mid-2015, panicky Israeli leaders were calling the non-violent movement a “strategic threat”. Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan was given the task of leading the counter-boycott effort, with an annual budget of $25m and supported by military intelligence agencies.

Erdan stresses the need for cooperation with a network of Zionist groups abroad, because ostensibly independent groups are more credible messengers in civil society. He explained: “It’s not necessarily good that the government is at the front of this battle.”

Because of this, Israeli embassies – many of which have dedicated anti-BDS staff – work closely with Israel lobby groups behind the scenes, as Al Jazeera’s investigation “The Lobby” shows. The investigation also confirms another official tactic: establishing front groups and bodies which appear to be grassroots but are actually “astroturf”.

Wealthy supporters of Israel such as Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban in the United States and Trevor Pears in the UK have pumped large sums of money into a plethora of anti-boycott initiatives. And increasingly, the Israeli government and pro-Israel groups team up to create global public-private partnerships against BDS.
What has the counter-BDS movement achieved?

Unable to win the argument politically, Israel and its allies are waging an aggressive “lawfare” campaign.

Thanks to friends in high places, they have had considerable success promoting laws to criminalise BDS, with about 20 US states considering anti-boycott bills. Another dimension has been prosecutions of activists, everywhere from Australia to France.

However, BDS continues to grow rapidly. Legal experts and the European Union have defended the right to boycott as a free speech issue. And several pro-Israel lawfare cases – for example in the UK where attempts to suppress BDS are also facing a legal challenge – have failed spectacularly.
What does the future hold?

Can a voluntary grassroots movement facing off against a well-funded, state-led, and elite-driven counterattack really hope to survive?

Expect to see the fight get even nastier with more lawsuits, McCarthyism, “black ops” and smear tactics, covert intelligence gathering and restrictions on BDS activists’ freedom of movement. As Amnesty International has noted with concern, there have even calls for “targeted civil eliminations”.

But Israel’s forte has always been the hard power of military coercion. Indeed, its diplomats appear unable to comprehend the BDS movement without comparing it with a war. It is clueless about how to deal with a non-hierarchical social movement waging a struggle on the terrain of moral persuasion.

As long as Israel flouts international law, no amount of money, repression or “Brand Israel” propaganda will stop the BDS movement continuing to grow and make crucial contributions to Palestinians’ struggle for justice.

— source aljazeera.com By Hilary Aked