Swedish Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel Newsletter No 24

This newsletter is published by the Action Group at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) for Boycott of Israel in collaboration with the network Isolera Israel. It provides information not only about academic and cultural boycott but also on BDS in general in Sweden and internationally. Find old issues of the newsletter at: http://psabi.se/ and about BDS in Swedish at http://isoleraisrael.nu/.

■ “The new guidelines the most significant EU action in 30 years”

In an article the 19th of October political scientist Anders Persson wrote in one of the biggest Swedish morning papers that the new EU guidelines against the Israeli settlements are the most significant action in the conflict in 30 years. The guidelines include a clause demanding that the Israeli govern ment certifies that the settlements do not belong to Israel, ”something that no Israeli government will ever do, least of all the present one”. But, continues Persson, ”it is quite possible that the guidelines will not change anything, either because they will ultimately be watered down or not implemented fully, or because it is simply too late to do anything about the Israeli occupation”. Read more (in Swedish): http://www.svd.se/opinion/brannpunkt/eu-klarsprak-om-bosattningar_8634416.svd.

■ Academic protest about “sensitive” implementation of EU guidelines

In September Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that the guidelines would be implemented “sensitively” to minimise damage to EU-Israel relations. As a protest against this, 541 academics signed a petition. A second letter was sent with another 259 signatures. Read about this and many other BDS activities in BRICUP newsletter no 69: http://www.bricup.org.uk/#nletter. There is still a real risk that the EU will cave in to Israeli pressure. Send a message to members of the European Parliament and ask them to make sure that the EU stops funding Israeli war crimes. Sign at: http://www.eccpalestine.org/tell- your-meps-to-support-new-rules-on-israels-participation-in-eu-programs/.

■ EU bank finances Israeli power plant as nearby Bedouins face demolitions

In September EU officials approved a loan for an Israeli energy project exactly one week after Pale stinian Bedouins living nearby were given demolition orders. The loan amounts to €150 million and is meant for the Megalim power plant. It must be regarded as a gesture of support for Israel’s ethnic cleansing in the Negev desert, writes Irish journalist David Cronin. Read more: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/david-cronin/eu-bank-finances-israeli-power-plant-nearby-bedouins-

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■ Is EU stepping up police cooperation with Israel?

Officers from Israel have taken part in a number of activities coordinated by the EU’s police agency. This contact comes despite Israel’s police HQ being located in occupied East Jerusalem. The EU earlier regarded Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem as illegal. In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that governments and institutions have an obligation not to abet Israel’s illegal conduct in any way. Read more: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/david-cronin/eu-stepping-police-cooperation-israel?

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■ Bergen University dumps G4S citing “reputational damage” cost

In Norway the security company G4S is not only undesired at the University of Oslo. Now the University of Bergen has said no to using the company’s services due to the high risk of reputational damage. The company has been under pressure for a long time due to their activities in the occupied West Bank. G4S presented the lowest priced offer in its tender. However, the University added an estimated loss of 2.5 million NOK related to potential ‘reputational damage’ the University would suffer if they chose to award the contract to G4S. The University links its decision to G4S’s activities in the occupied West Bank. Read more: https://www.facebook.com/palestinesolidarityuk/posts/622651457778120.

■ UK union head calls on G4S to end Israel contracts

One of the UK’s biggest unions, UNISON, recently called for G4S to pull out of Israel. The British-Danish security giant has been a major target for activists because of its involvement with several Israeli prisons. Dave Prentis, general secretary of UNISON, wrote to G4S saying: “that the reputa tional risks that these activities pose for your company are far greater [than profit] and I would urge you to withdraw now from doing business in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories”. Read more: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa- winstanley/uk-union-head-calls-g4s-end-israel-contracts.

■ St Louis dumps Veolia!

At the end of October St. Louis mayor announced that Veolia Water North America withdrew from a contract to consult with the St. Louis Water Division, following almost a year of public protest of the corporation over its track record of contract failures, labour abuses and complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. Veolia decided St. Louis “is not worth it. It is not worth the damage to [Veolia’s] business”. Read more: http://www.dumpveolia.org/#!victory-st-louis-dumps-veolia/c75d.

■ Gaza thirsting for water and freedom

At present Gaza moves fast into a water crisis, which will make the area uninhabitable. The water reserves are polluted by sewage, chemicals and sea water, because of the Israeli blockade and repeated attacks. Small-scale desalination plants provide acceptable water for a maximum of 20 per cent of the population. But 80 per cent are forced to buy their drinking water in bottles – something that may cost households up to one third of their incomes, writes Swedish solidarity activist Gunnar Olofsson. He considers the Swedish government and EU responsible for the continued blockade of Gaza. Instead of protesting they continue to develop their collaboration with the regime, which stand for those values that Western governments otherwise despise. Read more (in Swedish): http://www.pitea- tidningen.se/opinion/debatt/gaza-torstar-efter-vatten-och-frihet-7955149-default.aspx. The UN special rapporteur Richard Falk expresses the same thing in a report of the Electronic Intifada. Falk says Israel must halt the demolition of water collection facilities. Download the full report on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 at: http://www.intal.be/files/20131021_Richard_Falk_-_A_68_376_SR_oPt_report_2013_-_English.pdf

■ Israel blocks European parliament members from visiting Gaza

Members of the European Parliament condemned Israel’s refusal to allow them to enter the occupied Gaza Strip. The visit was scheduled to take place 27-30 October 2013 and had the full support of Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. Read more: http://www.eccpalestine.org/european-parliament-working-group-refused-entry-to-gaza-by-israel/.

■ Israeli settles attack olive tree cultivators on the West Bank

On the 3rd of November the big Swedish morning daily Svenska Dagbladet wrote that attacks by Israeli settlers increased against the olive farmers on the West Bank. The lessons had just started when 20 masked men turned up outside the school in Jalud. The villagers did not doubt that the men came from nearby Israeli settlements. They threw stones at windows, vandalised class rooms and cut the tyres of teacher’s cars. Afterwards they put fire to the olive trees on the slope below the school. More than 350 trees were destroyed. Read more (in Swedish): http://www.svd.se/nyheter/utrikes/olivodlare-i-skottlinjen_8679632.svd?


Dick Urban Vestbro, Prof Emer, dickurba@gmail.com
The Action group at KTH for boycott of Israel, http://psabi.se/ Member of the coordination committee of BDS Sweden, http://isoleraisrael.nu/