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A Letter to Jon Huntsman and the UW Class of 2013

Dear Graduates of 2013 and Mr. Jon Huntsman,

Congratulations to the UW graduating class of 2013! We – your fellow students, faculty, alumni, and members of the greater Seattle community – write to recognize your achievement but, also, to share with you and with commencement speaker, Jon Huntsman, our serious concerns about Mr. Huntsman’s connection to Caterpillar Inc. and to human rights abuses in Palestine/Israel.

The University of Washington has invited Jon Huntsman to give the Commencement keynote address that will set the tone for graduates’ first steps into their post-university lives. We know Mr. Huntsman most recently as one of the 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls. But in addition to a long and prestigious career in American politics, Jon Huntsman serves on the board of Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), an American firm that manufactures and distributes bulldozers and civil engineering tools. The CAT logo has become ubiquitous on most construction sites around the country. Most students are not familiar with CAT bulldozers that are part of the daily lives of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

For decades, CAT has sold specially militarized equipment to the Government of Israel used in the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes, the death and injury of unarmed Palestinian and international civilians, the uprooting of olive trees and destruction of agricultural land, and the expropriation of Palestinian territory through the construction of illegal Jewish-only settlements and a separation-annexation wall. Amnesty International, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch have all reported on and denounced Israel’s breaches of international humanitarian law and CAT’s complicity in human rights violations. The CAT brand and its bulldozers have become a symbol of destruction in Palestine.

Posted by on Jun 12, 2013

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37th annual commemoration of Land day in Palestine

March 30, 2013, marks the 37th annual commemoration of Land Day in Palestine when in 1976 Israeli military forces killed six Palestinians and wounded and arrested hundreds more during what began as nonviolent demonstrations. Protests in several Palestinian villages were in opposition to the Israeli government’s announcement of a plan to expropriate several thousand acres of land to build new settlements.  Land Day has more recently become an international day of protest through Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).  Each year, people around the world join in solidarity actions targeting companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements.

We hope you will help us commemorate Land Day by educating about the Israeli company SodaStream that produces at home beverage carbonation systems.   We know you’ve heard about SodaStream, but did you know that the company is located on occupied Palestinian land in an illegal settlement, in violation of international law? Your local SodaStream distributor might not know either!  Follow this link for a template of a letter you can send or deliver  to stores near you asking them to stop selling SodaStream products in your community!

For those in the Seattle area March 30th, come out and join our friends and partners at Palestine Solidarity Committee-Seattle (PSC) for an afternoon of music, dance, and BDS action beginning at 1 pm at Westlake Park at 4th and Pine. Click here for more details. In other places, create your own gathering to creatively carry the word about SodaStream to local businesses supporting the settlement enterprise and Israeli occupation.

Posted by on Apr 1, 2013

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“We build bridges, not walls”

As you watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, one commercial in particular should catch your attention.  SodaStream, the world’s largest manufacturer, distributor and marketer of home carbonation systems, is set to have a 30 second commercial during the 4th quarter of the game.  SodaStream is a household kitchen gadget that carbonates water into seltzer and sodas, and is produced in Ma’aleh Adumim, the largest illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank.  Join all of us in the BDS movement, Jewish Voice for Peace, the US Campaign Against the Israeli Occupation, Code Pink, an amazing coalition of religious leaders, and many others in boycott!

We ask you to join our boycott of SodaStream because it is produced in an illegal Israeli settlement (opposed by U.S. Government policy) and because the products sold support the settlement industry, encouraging Israel to continue the illegal military occupation of Palestinian lands.

Today, illegal settlements, like Ma’aleh Adumim, are protected by walls that take away the right of Palestinians to move freely and deny them access to their jobs and farmland.  As a result of this oppression and its economic impact, many Palestinians (including children as young as 12) must work in the settlements in order to support their families.

In response to criticism, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum defended his company:

“We don’t strengthen or support the occupation…  What we’re doing is taking a facility in the occupied territory and giving Palestinians a career and economic benefits. I’ve got to laugh when they think we’re on the wrong side of this. We’re part of the solution. We build bridges, not walls.”

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013

BDS, Call to Action »

Support Presbyterian Divestment!

From June 30th through July 7th, Presbyterians from all over the United States will gather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. During this gathering, commissioners elected from local Presbyterian communities will vote on many important matters, including a recommendation to divest from specified companies that profit from the Israeli abuse of Palestinian human rights. Among them are Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola.

The Presbyterian Church is known for its strong and consistent stance in support of Palestinian human rights. If it were to divest from these companies, it would be a massive victory for justice in Palestine. To this end, we encourage everyone who is able to get involved. The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation provides a petition in support of divestment and excellent information about ways to support the Presbyterian activists who have made the issue of divestment so prominent in the Church. If you live in or near Olympia, and are interested in working on this issue within the church community, contact us to find out how to get involved in supporting these efforts.

Posted by on Jun 25, 2012

BDS, News and Updates »

Cafe at TESC Announces Boycott of Israeli Products

Yesterday, June 4, 2012, The Flaming Eggplant Cafe, a student-run cafe at The Evergreen State College in Olympia announced it will boycott Israeli products. A statement, released yesterday, reads:

Our Mission Statement outlines a commitment to serving socially just food. Israel’s policy of illegal land seizure and destruction on Palestinian lands means purchasing items from Israel is in conflict with our mission.

As a student-run collective with the stated principle of supporting direct action for a just and egalitarian society, and as a café representing the student body at large, we feel it is important to uphold the desire for boycott and divestment as voted for by the students at The Evergreen State College.

» Read the full statement from the Flaming Eggplant…

Posted by on Jun 5, 2012