Non-Profits Supporting Apartheid

Document

To
Ann M. Veneman,
Executive Director of UNICEF

Dear Madam,

On behalf of Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, I would like to express our full support for your decision not to accept any further donations from Mr. Lev Levayev.

The Africa-Israel Buliding Coproration, owned by Mr. Levayev, is deeply involved in construction at the West Bank settlement of Modín Illit/Mattityahu East, erected on lands of Bilín and several other Palestinian villages which were either confiscated outright, ¨purchased¨ in highly shady land deals, and/or cut off from their owners by the so- called "Separation Fence".

For the Africa-Israeli Corporation - and hence, its owner, Levayev - this was a highly lucrative real estate deal, in which it acquired land for next to nothing and sold to settlers the appartments built on this land for hundreds of millions of dollars. For the Palestinian villagers involved, this meant the loss of the sole means of livelihood to hundreds of families, many of them with five children and more, and of course a very severe reduction in the care which these families could provide to their children and the future possibilities open to these children.

Hence, to accept the donations of Levayev, derived at least in part from the profits of the Africa-Israeli Corporation, would have meant to be in effect complicit in robbing one group of children in one country and using the proceeds for the benefit of other children in other countries - a manifestly immoral act which UNICEF was bound to avoid by the most basic of moral imperatives. I am glad that UNICEF did indeed take that decision.

Yours,
Adam Keller
Spokesperson, Gush Shalom (The Israeli Peace Bloc)
 

Document

April 10, 2008

Ms. Ann Veneman
Executive Director
UNICEF


Dear Ms. Veneman,

The people of Jayyous, a village in the West Bank’s Qalqilya district, were deeply saddened to learn that UNICEF has been accepting fundraising support from Israeli businessman Lev Leviev. Leviev is the co-owner of Leader, the Israeli company that is building the settlement of Zufim on our village’s land. Leviev’s companies are also building Israeli settlements on Bil’in’s land, and are building in the settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim around Jerusalem. Leviev is destroying the olive groves and farms that have sustained Jayyous for centuries, and is profiting from human rights abuses. However, we were even more profoundly disturbed that, after these facts were brought to UNICEF’s attention, UNICEF has failed to take immediate steps to reject all future support from Leviev.

Leader’s construction of Israeli settlement homes on Jayyous’ agricultural land directly violates international law and the very UN resolutions which UNICEF is committed to upholding. Leader is destroying our village, and the lives and the futures of Jayyous’ children. Jayyous was one of the most productive agricultural areas in the West Bank. Today, many farmers from our village can no longer reach their farmland due to Israel’s construction of a wall on our land, a wall intended to annex Jayyous’ land for the planned expansion of Zufim. With the land their families have worked for centuries seized for Israeli settlements, many parents can no longer afford to send their children to school. Many of our children see no hope or future in Jayyous.

In October, 1988, the Israeli military governor of our district, Qalqilya, declared nearly 500 acres of Jayyous' agricultural land "state land." The declaration granted us 45 days to prepare our landownership documents and maps in order to appeal that decision to an Israeli military court. 79 farmers from Jayyous appealed. In May, 1996, the Israeli court decided on our 1988 appeal. 18 farmers from Jayyous lost all their land, some lost part of their land, while others kept their land. In 1993, three years before the Israeli court decision which took that land away, Leader established a quarry on some of Jayyous' land that we were appealing to keep.

During this period it became clear to the people of Jayyous that Leader was our enemy. Leader used bulldozers to clear our land for houses for Israeli settlers, and TNT to detonate more than 16 acres for a quarry. They uprooted all the olive trees on that land. As a direct result of the quarry work, all the vegetables and fruit nearby were covered with dust. Leader also uprooted the olive trees on two other plots. Many olive trees died because sewage from Zufim ran for many years through neighboring plots. Other plots were annexed to Zufim.

Leader then announced that it would build 1500 new homes for “North Zufim” in a large area located 1.2 miles north of the existing Zufim settlement. In 2002 the Israel government began building its wall deep inside Jayyous, up to 3.5 miles from the border with Israel, in order to annex 75% of Jayyous' land (1700 acres) as well as six underground wells to Zufim. The land to be cut off and used for Zufim’s expansion had been used to grow fruits and vegetables which sustain our village's economy. According to the respected Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem's 2005 report "Under the Guise of Security,” "the primary consideration in determining the route of the barrier around Zufin was to leave areas planned for the settlement's expansion and for a nearby industrial zone on the 'Israeli' side of the barrier", thus increasing "the number of Palestinians who are separated from their farmland, infringing their right to freedom of movement, their right to work and gain a livelihood, and their right of property."

Despite more than 60 nonviolent protests organized by Jayyous' people, and supported by Israeli and international activists, the wall has been built on our land, destroying 130 acres of Jayyous' land, uprooting 4,000 trees and cutting off 75% of our land. 419 Jayyous residents have been denied permits to pass through the gate in the Wall to reach their farmland. More than 70% of Jayyous' farmers are now denied access to their land, which in many cases happens to be the very area where Leader plans to expand Zufim. Hundreds of Israeli activists helped us to harvest our olives this fall because so many people from Jayyous could not reach their land.

As a result, our once-prosperous farming village of 3,400 hundred souls, which once provided food for 60,000 Palestinians, is now impoverished and dependent on external food aid. 57% of Jayyous’ families now depend on food aid from international and Palestinian organizations. An even greater number, 70% of families, are in great need of food aid, and this number is constantly increasing.

Leviev's settlement and Israel’s wall have impoverished our village to such a degree that 103 out of a total of 195 students in grades 7-12 were compelled to drop out of school. Many parents explain that they find it difficult or impossible to cover school expenses like tuition, clothes, and books. Our school’s headmaster appealed to Jayyous' friends abroad, but the money raised was only sufficient to help 92 students. The rest had to leave school to look for work. Our students are no longer motivated to study hard, because their dreams of attending universities now seem impossible. In 2002, before Israel began construction on the wall, 180 high school graduates from Jayyous were enrolled in university studies. That number has now dropped to 50.

We understand that Leviev contributes to fundraising events in France benefitting UNICEF programs to educate girls in Senegal. We ask why UNICEF, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children worldwide, would accept Leviev’s support in educating Senegalese children while his companies are destroying the lives of Palestinian children in places like Jayyous?

In Jayyous, we are engaged in a struggle for justice, for our freedom – indeed, for our very lives. We fully expect that UNICEF will renounce all support from Lev Leviev, the owner of the company that is destroying our village and the dreams of our children.

Sincerely,


The Land Defense Committee of Jayyous
The Municipality of Jayyous


cc: Bernt Aasen UNICEF Chief of Staff
UNICEF Jerusalem Office
UNICEF Middle East Regional Office
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights
Adalah-NY
 

Event

COME PROTEST THE ISRAELI ARMY IN NEW YORK!


The self-styled "Friends of the Israel Defense Forces," an organization that raises millions of dollars every year in the US, is holding its annual fund raising dinner in NYC tomorrow to raise money for the army that is daily committing war crimes in Gaza.

When: TUESDAY, MARCH 18, 2008 5 PM (TOMORROW)
Where: Park Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, across from the Waldorf Astoria

The Israeli military has killed well over a hundred Palestinians in Gaza in the last two weeks alone and over 4600 Palestinians since 2000 (including 1000 children). Come protest the $1000 per place dinner that raises money for an organization that has committed countless human rights abuses over the past 60 years and is carrying out ethic cleansing and enforcing a system of Apartheid on Palestinians.

Document

Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East
www.adalahny.org, [email protected]

 

TO: The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York, NY

SUBJ: Cancel March 18 “Friends of IDF Fundraiser” over Israeli human rights violations

DATE: March 11, 2008

As thirteen organizations working for human rights, social justice, and peace, we demand that The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan rescind its agreement to host the March 18 fundraiser for “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.” The Israeli military has been historically a flagrant violator of human rights and international law as demonstrated by last week’s attack on Gaza which killed over 100 Palestinians, the 2006 attack on Lebanon, and the 60-year assault on and dispossession of the Palestinian people.

We call on The Waldorf-Astoria to adhere to standards of corporate social responsibility that prohibit support for violators of laws and human rights. Among other activities, “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces” explains on its website that it helps to establish and renovate facilities on Israeli army bases. We are shocked that a respected institution like The Waldorf-Astoria would host a fundraiser benefitting a foreign armed group, especially one guilty of egregious human rights violations. We question if The Waldorf-Astoria would facilitate fundraising for armed groups from other foreign countries.

The human rights violations committed by the Israeli military over the past 60 years are severe. Last week the respected Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reported that, “From 27 February to the afternoon of 3 March, 106 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip. Contrary to the [Israeli] Chief of Staff’s contention that ninety percent were armed, at least fifty-four of the dead (twenty-five of them minors) did not take part in the hostilities. In addition, at least forty-six minors were wounded.” Furthermore, during last week’s fighting, Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai threatened Gaza’s people with “a bigger holocaust.”

As Human Rights Watch noted in a detailed 2005 report, “Promoting Impunity,” “The Israeli military has fostered a climate of impunity in its ranks by failing to thoroughly investigate whether soldiers have killed and injured Palestinian civilians unlawfully or failed to protect them from harm… Israeli forces have killed or seriously injured thousands of Palestinians who were not taking part in the hostilities. However, the Israeli authorities have investigated fewer than five percent of the fatal incidents to determine whether soldiers were responsible for using force unlawfully. The investigations they did conduct fell far short of international standards for independent and impartial inquiries.”

While we grieve for all the Israeli military’s recent Palestinian and Lebanese victims, we note with sadness that the Waldorf-Astoria event falls days after the fifth anniversary, on March 16th, of the army’s killing of US civilian Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by an Israeli-army-operated Caterpillar bulldozer while blocking the demolition of the home of a Palestinian family in Gaza.

The March 18 fundraiser praising a military that has conducted a 41-year occupation also falls a few hours before the fifth anniversary of the attack and occupation of Iraq by the United States, Israel’s closest ally and provider of military aid. Israel and the US’ military occupations of Palestine and Iraq and their accompanying human rights abuses are not causes to celebrate. We must pressure these governments to end both military occupations.

The Israeli military also enforces a discriminatory, apartheid system. For example, in the West Bank the army is directly involved in the seizure of Palestinian land to build colonial settlements for Jews only as well as Israel’s wall, all in violation of international law. Palestinian communities which have conducted long nonviolent campaigns to prevent the seizure of their land like Bil'in, Budrus, Biddu, Beit Liqya, Al Zawiyya, Jayyous and Um Salomona, have suffered ten deaths and hundreds of injuries at the hands of the military. Since 1948, in violation of international laws guaranteeing refugee rights, Israel’s military has prevented the return of the over 800,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants, now numbering in the millions, who were driven from their homes by Jewish militias and the Israeli army.

In Lebanon, Human Rights watch reported in September, 2007 that “Israel’s indiscriminate airstrikes… caused most of the approximately 900 civilian deaths in Lebanon during the July-August 2006 war.” A February, 2008 report by Human Rights Watch “found that Israel violated international humanitarian law in its indiscriminate and disproportionate cluster munition attacks on Lebanon.” Israel dropped “as many as 4.6 million submunitions across southern Lebanon… the vast majority over the final three days of the war when Israel knew a settlement was imminent… causing long-term and large-scale disruption of the largely agricultural economy,” and “about 200 civilian casualties since the war’s end.”

Finally, as many of our groups have recently affirmed, Israel’s ongoing use of U.S. weapons to enforce an illegal military occupation and to commit human rights abuses places it in violation of US law, specifically the Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act.

Corporations have a responsibility to uphold human rights and international law. In light of the Israeli military’s longstanding and repeated failure to respect accepted laws and norms, we call on The Waldorf-Astoria to rescind its decision to host the March 18 fundraiser for “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.”

Signed by,

Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East (www.adalahny.org)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee-New York (www.adcnewyork.org)
Arab Muslim American Federation
Combatants for Peace (www.combatantsforpeace.org)
Jews Against the Occupation-NYC (www.jato.nyc.org)
Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org)
National Council of Arab-Americans – Metropolitan New York Chapter
Palestinian American Congress – New York
Rachel’s Words (www.rachelswords.org)
Troops Out Now Coalition (www.troopsoutnow.org)
United for Peace and Justice (www.unitedforpeace.org)
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (www.endtheoccupation.org)
WESPAC Foundation (www.wespac.org)

Pages