Turmus Aya's Palestinians threatened by settlement plan

Around 4000 Palestinians live in fear over recent encroachment from Israeli settlements.

Turmus Aya, Occupied West Bank - At the entrance of the Palestinian village Turmus Aya, a large sign written in Hebrew, Arabic and English warns visitors that "this road leads to Palestinian areas [sic]. It is dangerous for Israeli citizens to enter".

Contrary to the sign's warning, it is the Palestinian residents of this seemingly tranquil area who are more nervous, specifically about the recent encroachment from the Israeli settlements that surround their village.

Turmus Aya, home to around 4,000 people, lies in the shadow of a string of such settlers' communities, which are illegal under international law. On a bump in the land directly to the north sits Shilo, a well-developed example, built in 1979 and home to around 3,000 illegal settlers.

Last week, tensions rose in the area, after the Israeli government confirmed that Shilo and other nearby Israeli communities would be joined by the construction of the first official settlement in the occupied West Bank in nearly 20 years. Geulat Zion will be built on a hilltop east of Shilo, to house around 50 settler families removed from Amona, an unauthorised settlement dismantled after Israel's Supreme Court ruled it had been built on private Palestinian land.

Read more on Al Jazeera

Read more: Turmus Aya's Palestinians threatened by settlement plan

Responding to Pressure from Social Justice Activists, Portland City Council Halts All Investments in Private Corporations

For Immediate Release

 

4-11-2017

Press Contacts:

Amanda Aguilar Shank, Enlace, 503-660-8744

Rod Such, Occupation-Free Portland, 971-322-4237

 

Responding to Pressure from Social Justice Activists, Portland City Council Halts All Investments in Private Corporations

 

On Wednesday 4/5/2017 the Portland, Oregon, City Council voted 5 to 0 to adopt a new City Investment Policy that ends all future investments in corporate securities. The decision followed three hours of public testimony that was overwhelmingly in support of Socially Responsible Investing. 

 

“We celebrate this victory as it moves the City out of the business of investing in corporations that behave in ways that are so fundamentally opposed to the values we hold as a community,” said Hyung Nam, member of the former Portland Socially Responsible Investments Committee (SRIC). 

 

The April 5 vote was the culmination of a process that started in December 2014 with a decision by the City Council to enact a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) screen and appoint a seven-person SRIC. The charge for the SRIC was to hear public testimony, review research, and develop an annual report with recommendations to the City Council for companies to be added to the City’s Do-Not-Buy list. These companies would be ineligible for investment based on multiple violations of the City’s SRI criteria. 

 

In October 2016, the SRIC issued its first report to the City Council. The report found that nine companies violated multiple SRI criteria. In November 2016, the City Council received the SRIC report and heard extensive citizen testimony concerning primarily two of the companies on the list--Caterpillar and Wells Fargo. In December 2016, the City Council opted to take a three-month pause in all corporate investments and tasked the City Treasurer with reassessing Portland’s investment policy and commitment to a SRI lens for all City corporate investments. 

 

At the April 5, 2017 hearing, the City Council heard the City Treasurer’s proposal, which proposed eliminating the citizen SRI Committee and using the proprietary Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) investment-screening tool, MSCI, as the sole way to evaluate a company’s SRI eligibility for City investments. 

 

Citizen testimony at the April 5 hearing gave a resoundingly negative response to the City Treasurer’s proposal. A coalition of groups representing Palestinian human rights, private prison divestment, proponents of a municipal bank and climate justice argued that the proposed plan was completely devoid of any transparency and community input.  The proposal lacked a tool to screen for values that Portlanders embrace. In testimony that was sung rather than spoken, the Raging Grannies challenged the Council with the words “From Standing Rock to Palestine and here in Portland town, Human life is under attack and the right thing must be done. Human life or profits, which side are you on?” 

 

Initially, Council member Chloe Eudaly proposed amendments to the Treasurer’s resolution. These amendments called for the City to add Amazon, Caterpillar, Bank of NY Mellon, and Nestle to the proposal and for these companies to be placed on the Do- Not-Buy list. Ultimately, what won the day was the City Council passing a resolution proposed by Council member Dan Saltzman to prohibit Portland from investing in any corporate securities. 

 

“This decision is a huge victory for citizen activism,” said Maxine Fookson of Jewish Voice for Peace and Occupation-Free Portland. “Through bringing the discussion of the egregious practices of companies such as Wells Fargo and Caterpillar into the light of day, the City Council opted to withdraw our taxpayers’ financial support from these corporations.” 

 

“Although we would have preferred seeing the City keep its socially responsible investing policy and its SRIC so as to highlight the worst of the worst corporations and in order to encourage better corporate behavior, the compromise amendment at least ensures that our tax money will not be complicit in human rights violations in Israel/Palestine and elsewhere,” Fookson added.  

 

Wells Fargo is the largest financier of private prison corporations, which are widely known for human rights abuses of detainees and understaffing and poorly trained and low-paid workers. Wells Fargo, which is also financing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), has gained notoriety for fake customer accounts and fraudulent and discriminatory lending practices that particularly target communities of color.

 

Caterpillar is heavily profiting from involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In violation of international law, Caterpillar sells the Israeli military weaponized bulldozers that are used as weapons of war to demolish Palestinian homes, villages, and agricultural lands. Churches, student groups and numerous international human rights organizations have attempted to engage Caterpillar to urge them to cease supporting this brutal military occupation, but the company has disregarded all attempts at engagement. In addition, Caterpillar was contracted to dig the Dakota Access Pipeline and is a favored company for construction of the US-Mexico Border Wall that Donald Trump is proposing.

 

“The City of Portland has taken strong stands in opposing DAPL and fossil fuel extraction,” noted Curtis Bell of Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East. “It was only consistent for the City to disinvest from the companies engaged in those projects.”   

 

Divestment from companies such as Wells Fargo and Caterpillar--companies that do such grave harm--is a strong statement for corporate responsibility. Though the City Council voted to make this statement in a more generic way, Enlace and Occupation-Free Portland applaud the fact that Portland will no longer be complicit with companies whose practices are so diametrically different from the social values Portlanders cherish. Both groups also welcomed the testimony given on behalf of a public bank and echo the insistence of climate justice organizations that Portland stay on record in support of keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

 

“In this age of Trump, we see our movements coming together internationally to push back against a corporate agenda that seeks profit over investment in people and the planet,” said Amanda Aguilar Shank, Interim Director of Enlace, convener of the National Prison Divestment Campaign. “In Portland and nationally, our communities are demanding that our cities become Freedom Cities, sites of resistance and also sites of visionary advances, like what we have seen in Portland today.”


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Life & Prison in Palestine: A Cartoonist’s Eye

Life & Prison in Palestine:

A Cartoonist’s Eye 

Mohammad Sabaaneh, author of White And Black: Political Cartoons from Palestine 

Sunday, May 7th - 7 to 9pm

First Unitarian Church

1226 SW Salmon Street

Buchan Reception Hall 

Mohammad is a talented cartoonist based in Ramallah and a former political prisoner in Israel. His work has been lauded by leading political cartoonists worldwide.

“Each of Mohammad Sabaaneh’s powerful drawings is like a gut punch that gets straight to the essence of the stark reality of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation. This is how an artist resists.” Joe Sacco, author and illustrator whose books include Palestine and Footnotes in Gaza

Mohammad’s book is published by Just World Books  justworldeducational.org 

Sponsored by: Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights - auphr.org  and  Portland Chapter of Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East - uujme.org

Cosponsored by: Holy Land Ministry at Spirit of Grace, Vancouver for Peace, and Jewish Voice for Peace - Portland - jvp-pdx.org

ACTION: combat anti-BDS and pro-Settlement legislation in Oregon!

Dear Supporter of Human Rights and Free Speech:

We need your help to stop several bills going through the Oregon Legislature. They need to be condemned and defeated. They are bills: SCR25, SM1, SJM9. This legislation attacks UN efforts to oppose illegal settlements on Palestinian land, and attempts to put an end to an increasingly effective campaign in support of human rights and international law in Palestine-Israel.  These misguided and misleading bills must be defeated.

Bill SCR25 - condemns the non-violent movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). BDS is a movement answering the call of Palestinian civil society against Israel's ongoing violations of human rights. The movement works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law. If passed, this bill will have a chilling effect on criticism of Israel's human rights abuses, and could serve as a basis for other, more extreme bills such as have been introduced in a number of other states. For details about SCR25 see:

https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/SCR25

For more information about anti-BDS legislation across the country and fact sheets see:

http://palestinelegal.org/resources/

 

Bills SM1 and SJM9 oppose UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which passed unanimously in the Security Council with only one abstention from the Obama administration. The UN resolution properly condemned Israel's ongoing and rapidly expanding settlement activity on Palestinian lands in support of international law and in support of longstanding U.S. policy that is opposed to Israeli settlements. You can read more at:

https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/SM0001

and 

https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/SJM9

 

The above bills are in the Senate Committee On Rules. We need to call and write the Senators of the Rules Committee and our own Senators to make sure they know that opposition to these bills is widespread and growing. See the contact information below or use the link above.

 

Read more: ACTION: combat anti-BDS and pro-Settlement legislation in Oregon!

Israeli Ministry Trying to Compile Database of Citizens Who Support BDS

[So much for acting like a Democracy]

read more:  http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.778516

Senior officials say attorney general vehemently opposes Minister Gilad Erdan's bid, arguing his ministry has no legal authority to collect information on Israelis.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan wants to set up a database of Israeli citizens who are involved in promoting and supporting boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel or the settlements.

Senior Israeli officials noted that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is vehemently opposed to Erdan’s proposal, arguing that the Strategic Affairs Ministry has no legal authority to collect information on Israeli citizens.

Read more: Israeli Ministry Trying to Compile Database of Citizens Who Support BDS

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