Thursday, September 17, 2009

US Campaign National Organizers' Conference a success--and in the media spotlight!

We're back from Chicago after a successful conference! Thanks to all of you who made our 8th National Organizers' Conference such a great success. We're still sorting through everything that we need to do to follow-up from the conference. We'll have a detailed conference report available within the next few days. In the meantime, though, we've been getting a lot of media coverage of our boycott, divestment, and sanctions work, especially after member groups in good standing voted to adopt the principle of academic and cultural boycott into the BDS work of the US Campaign. Since 2005, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has endorsed the Palestinian civil society call for BDS, and we've placed our BDS work in an anti-apartheid framework since 2006. We've worked to pressure Caterpillar and Motorola to end their corporate complicity in Israeli occupation and apartheid. Now, as a coalition, we have agreed to expand our BDS work into the realm of academic and cultural boycotts, as well as boycotts of Israeli goods such as Ahava beauty products. Check out US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis, Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu (who was one of the featured speakers of the US Campaign's 2008 anti-apartheid speaking tour), and Israeli academic Neve Gordon, whose recent LA Times op-ed has helped raised the profile of the BDS movement in the mainstream U.S. press, discussing BDS on Laura Flanders' GRITtv. : In addition to the discussion of boycott and divestment, Bennis discusses reactions to the Goldstone report on the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. This episode of GRITtv also features Hasan Kwame Jeffries, who discusses struggle against the U.S. form of apartheid from Reconstruction to today. The interview with Jeffries is a powerful reminder that the struggle against racism and oppression is long-term work--work that must continue if justice is to be possible. The National Conference also got coverage in The Electronic Intifada, where Nada Elia, an organizer with the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, discusses the importance of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation endorsing cultural and academic boycott. Check out the full article here. And the Jewish Daily Forward put forward its own analysis of the BDS movement, including this important quote from American Jewish Committee spokesman Ben Cohen:
"[It]'s clear to me that this discourse of boycott is being increasingly legitimized, and it would appear that some companies are responsive to it."
It is exactly the increasing presence of boycott and divestment in the mainstream discourse about U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine that leads US Campaign conference speaker Omar Barghouti to proclaim, "Our South African moment has arrived." We'll be getting you more information about the decisions that were made at our National Conference in the next few days. Keep your eyes on this blog and our website!