SINGING AGAINST SIEGE, BELLOWING FOR BOYCOTT
NEW YORKERS VISIT MAX BRENNER, RICKY'S, AROMA ESPRESSO BAR WITH BOYCOTT MESSAGE
New York, NY – As the MV Rachel Corrie, the second half of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, was towed into the Israeli port of Ashdod after another attempt to break Israel's siege on Gaza, 100 New Yorkers marched through the streets of Manhattan, south of Union Square. Heeding the Palestinian civil society call for intensifying boycott and sanctions against Israel in the wake of this week's Freedom Flotilla massacre,the marchers chanted, sang songs and performed poetry outside three locations targeted for boycott.
Max Brenner Cafe, which was recently the target of a banner drop, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Strauss Group, an Israeli food conglomerate that supports the Golani Brigades, an Israeli army unit with a history of severe human rights violations.
Ricky's NYC, and its owner, Dominick Costello, has been the target of a campaign since last summer to stop carrying AHAVA beauty products, which come from stolen Palestinian natural resources and are produced in an Israeli settlement on occupied Palestinian land.
Aroma Espresso Bar is an Israeli-owned cafe chain that includes locations in the Israel settlement of Maale Adumim. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.
"We hope to show New Yorkers that they have the power and responsibility to stop Israel's human rights abuses," said organizer Hannah Mermelstein. "If governments fail to hold Israel accountable, civil society must place pressure to force Israel to respect law and human rights."
The march came as news emerged that Israeli forces had seized the MV Rachel Corrie, an Irish-flagged vessel that was carrying 11 human rights activists and further cargo bound for Gaza. Israel has imposed a near-complete blockade on Gaza since Palestinian elections in 2006. Despite claims that the ban is for security purposes only, every-day items such as dairy products, plastic containers, toilet paper and even chocolate are not allowed into Gaza.
Protests were held around the world today as part of a Global Day of Action for BDS in response to Israel's raid on the Freedom Flotilla, which left at least 9 dead, including one American citizen, and dozens wounded. The day also marked the 43rd anniversary of the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The boycott movement has been growing since the unified Palestinian call of 2005, which aims to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law of which the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was but one example.
UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, stated on Monday, "The worldwide campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel is now a moral and political imperative, and needs to be supported and strengthened everywhere.”
Pictures of the action can be found at: http://adalahny.org/photo-gallery/523/bds-march-06-05-2010