Friday, July 16, 2010

Building Solidarity, Combating Occupation and Apartheid: A call for a national Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference (Australia)

Building Solidarity, Combating Occupation and Apartheid
A call for a national Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference
Melbourne, 29 - 31 October 2010
- activism in support of Palestine -

As supporters of the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination, we have come together to initiate a call for a two and half day, national Australian BDS conference to be held in Melbourne on October 29- 31, 2010.

Over the two and half days of the conference, we hope to bring together people from all over Australia, who are already active in the Palestine solidarity movement, as well as anyone who is interested in learning more about BDS and the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and justice.

Plenaries will address the history of civil resistance and boycotts, including an analysis of apartheid in South Africa and Palestine; colonialism in Australia and Palestine; and lessons from Palestine solidarity work internationally. In addition, there will be workshops and strategy sessions focused on the development of a national BDS network and campaign in Australia, including strategy sessions focused on developing the involvement of the Union and Labour movement, Student and Campus groups, Community and Faith based groups and art and cultural groups in the campaign; as well as also developing research and media groups to support the campaign.

Background information:
In 2005, Palestinian civil society, including more than 171 Palestinian organisations, political parties, trade unions, associations, coalitions, initiated a Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaign against Israel. Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, the Palestinian-initiated BDS campaign is conducted in the framework of international solidarity and resistance to injustice and oppression and calls for non-violent punitive measures to be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law.

Over the past five years, the Palestinian BDS campaign against Israel has gone from strength to strength internationally, with trade unions, student groups and other sectors of the community announcing support for the campaign. However, in Australia, the campaign is still in its infancy.

In 2009, millions of ordinary people in Australia, and around the world, protested in condemnation of Israel’s brutal all-out bombing of 1.5 million Palestinian civilians residing in the open-air prison know as the Gaza Strip. In the past few weeks, we have again seen hundreds of thousands of people around the world take to the streets to protest Israel’s murderous attacks on the international humanitarian flotilla on May 31st, which was carrying 700 human rights activists who were attempting to break Israel’s illegal siege of Gaza, and deliver more than 10,000 tonnes of much needed humanitarian aid. Israel’s pre-mediated violent attack on the flotilla left 9 international human rights activists dead and dozens more wounded.

Israel continues to carry out its siege and occupation of Gaza and illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As the BDS campaign continues to grow in leaps in bounds internationally, it is time for supporters of human rights and justice in Australia to come together as part of a national campaign in support of BDS and the Palestinian people.

We hope that you will join us in October for Australia’s first national BDS conference in support of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and justice.

To endorse this call or to help with the organising of the conference, please contact us at:

Or visit our blog at:

Signatories: (organisations for identification purposes only)

Julia Terreu (Adelaide)
Action for Palestine
Independent radio broadcaster

Phil Monsour (Brisbane)
Musician and Activist.
Union Aid Abroad APHEDA Middle East Study Tour 2010 delegate for the Queensland Teachers Union

Kim Bullimore (Melbourne)
Volunteer, International Women’s Peace Service in Palestine
Independent journalist and writer on the Israel-Palestine conflict

Sarah Haynes (Perth)
Treasurer, Friends of Palestine (Western Australia)

Rachel Johnson (Sydney)
Volunteer, International Solidarity Movement, Palestine.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


By International Women's Peace Service - Palestine

Since 2002, the International Women’s Peace Service in Palestine (IWPS-Palestine) has been documenting and non-violently intervening in human rights abuses carried out by the Israeli military and Israeli settlers in the Occupied West Bank against the Palestinian civilian population. We are the only all women team of internationals working in the Occupied West Bank and we are currently looking for new volunteers to join us on the ground in Palestine. (see: )

IWPS - Palestine is located in the Salfit district, a rural area located close to Nablus. The district, as well as the nearby Nablus and Qalqilya districts, are affected by more than 20 illegal Israeli settlements located in the “Ariel settlement bloc”. We were established at the height of the Al Aqsa Intifada in response to a call from the village of Hares for an international presence in their village.
Hares, which is home to 3000 Palestinians (mainly farmers), is located in the heart of the Ariel settlement bloc and was under curfew and almost daily invasion from the Israeli military. During one of these invasions in 2001, our neighbour Issa was shot by an Israeli soldier and paralysed. At the time of the shooting, Issa was attempting to bring to safety a group of small children who had been playing outside when the Israeli military invaded the village.(see

After 7 years in Hares, we recently relocated to the neighbouring village of Deir Istyia, which like Hares and other Palestinian villages under the occupation, continues to suffer greatly. In the past months, Deir Istiya has been subject to semi-regular curfew and invasion. The village which is home to just over 3100 people has already lost much of its land to Israel’s occupation and is now struggling to keep more of its land being taken by the illegal settlements.

Since our establishment 8 years ago, hundreds of women from around the world have joined us in Hares and now Deir Istiya. They have played a vital role in not only documenting and non-violently intervening in human rights abuses carried out by the Israeli military and illegal Israeli settlers, they have also been active in supporting Palestinian non-violent resistance to end Israel’s occupation and to stop the building the apartheid wall. IWPS volunteers over the years have provided regular accompaniment to Palestinian civilians, including to farmers trying to reach their land and who have been prevented by the Israeli military and/or illegal settlers. We have also coordinated internationals teams to assist with accompaniment during olive harvest each year. Our team members have been part of the non-violent civil resistance which has attempted to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes and the construction of the apartheid wall.

In the last three years, our team members have been increasingly called on to try and intervene to stop and/or document the increasing number of Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian civilians and villages. While there has been a dramatic increase in the number of settler attacks on Palestinians across the Occupied West Bank, many of the worst attacks have occurred in the nearby Nablus district. These attacks by illegal settlers have included the poisoning of Palestinian livestock, the torching and burning of hundreds of dunums of Palestinian agricultural land, the invasion of Palestinian villages by armed settlers, the beating and stoning of unarmed Palestinian residents, the destruction of Palestinian property and the firing of homemade missiles at Palestinian villages on several occasions. In response to these attacks, our team members have regularly provided a temporary international presence in the villages under attack in order to try and stop the attacks, while also documenting the attacks in an attempt to bring them to the attention of the wider public, internationally.

In recent months, IWPS has been active in supporting the non-violent demonstrations in the village of An Nabi Saleh. Since December 2009, the village has been holding non-violent demonstrations against the creeping settlement expansion and land confiscation by the illegal Israeli settlement of Hallamish (also known as Neve Tzuf) and each week the demonstrations are brutally attacked by Israel’s military.
IWPS-Palestine is run solely by volunteers from around the world and we have just issued a call for new volunteers to join us on the ground in Palestine. If you would like to find out more about IWPS, you can either visit our website at or you can contact as at and we will send you details of our application process.