By Matt Graber On September 10 – 13, up to twenty-five thousand private security professionals will gather at the Philadelphia Convention Center for the 58th annual seminar and expo hosted by the ASIS International Foundation – a global organization formerly known as the American Society for Industrial Security.  The seminar brings together private security employees and employers offering surveillance systems and security operations internationally to police forces, militaries, and private corporations. It features more than 200 workshops for security professionals, and closed-door sessions between former government officials and Corporate Security Officers (CSOs). Muhammed El Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1997 to 2009 will speak on Tuesday, and Robert Gates, former US Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1991 to 1993, will speak on Wednesday. * The lack of public awareness, scrutiny, and participation in the seminar, coupled with the proposed agenda, raises a number of compelling questions. Consider, for example, the workshops that make connections between social media, surveillance, and law enforcement. In this age of surveillance, Smart Phones function as tracking devices , the Patriot Act authorizes government surveillance without public scrutiny , and social media provides insight into the private details of our lives. With workshops such as, “Using Social Networking Sites, Search Engines, and Web 2.0 to Screen Applicants,” “Trends in Law Enforcement and Private Security Partnerships,” “New School Security Risks and Solutions,” and hundreds of others, what is the relationship between people, private security firms, corporations, and the government? As new social movements emerge world-wide such as the Occupy Movement, the Arab Spring, and the demonstrations across Europe, how will private security firms and corporations respond to social movements calling for a more equitable distribution of resources ? One
The Philadelphia Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel staged a creative protest outside the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Tree of Life fundraiser at Vie, 600 N Broad St., on Thursday, March 29th from 5pm-7pm. The gala honored David Cohen, the Executive Vice President of the Comcast Corporation and the chairman of the board of trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. Carrying signs reading “Land Theft is Not Charity,” about forty protesters, who included members of Philly BDS, students from both Temple Students for Justice in Palestine and Penn BDS, and other activists from the Philadelphia Palestine solidarity community chanted as part of a spirited picket of the event that included puppets and street theater. The protesters’ “Bulldozing homes, stealing land; it’s all part of the JNF plan!”, called attention to the past and present role of the Jewish National in the ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians from Israel-Palestine. At issue is the fact that the JNF enjoys tax-exempt status as a charitable organization in the U.S. Founded in 1901, the Jewish National Fund originally collected money from Jews throughout the world to “redeem the land of Israel” by purchasing land in historic Palestine. Since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the JNF has raised tens of millions of dollars for planting JNF forests, many of which are built on top of former Palestinian Arab villages. Penn BDS stands with Philly BDS and Temple SJP, stating “We denounce the actions of the Jewish National Fund, which has been an integral part of the strategy of the State of Israel to evict Palestinian families from their homes, destroy Palestinian and Bedouin villages and remove traces of the Palestinian people. The Jewish National Fund is a full participant in Israel’s system of apartheid by restricting the use of
One year ago, Philly BDS was founded as the first group in Philadelphia focused on advancing the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. That foundation followed the July 2005 call by 171 Palestinian civil society organizations to implement a global BDS struggle to hold Israel accountable until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Palestinian refugees. Now, on our first anniversary, we find ourselves reflecting beyond the milestones in our local consumer boycott of Sabra hummus and Tribe hummus to the remarkable events in the BDS movement over the last year or so globally. The BDS movement has continued to grow by leaps and bounds, and significant challenges have presented themselves as well. Globally, there have been a number of noteworthy concrete successes. To highlight a few: From November 2007 – 2010 US-based Adalah-NY initiated a global campaign against Israeli billionaire, diamond mogul, and settlement-builder Lev Leviev that led to his renunciation by UNICEF, denunciation by Oxfam, the removal of a promotional section of his website featuring actors like Salma Hayek, Drew Barrymore, and Halle Berry at some of their requests, and a UK government decision not to rent embassy space from his company. In November 2010, Leviev’s Africa Israel company announced it would no longer be involved in settlement construction. Responding to appeals from Palestinian civil society after Israel’s attack on a humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza, in June 2010 dockworkers in Oakland, California, Sweden, and Norway all refused to dock and unload Israeli ships, imposing a blockade so-to-speak on Israeli goods. Similar historic action was taken by South African dockworkers in February of 2009. Also in the summer of 2010, the Olympia Food Co-op Board of Directors in the Washington State
Philly BDS, our local consumer boycott and de-shelving campaign against Sabra Hummus and Tribe hummus, was launched at the Peoplehood Parade in West Philadelphia almost one year ago. After participating in the parade with our Handela puppets, we positioned ourselves at a table in sunny Clark Park where we offered samples of homemade hummus to passersby who received information about our campaign, talked with us, and signed our petitions. Our now famous Philly BDS flash dance was performed inside the Fresh Grocer store on 40th & Walnut St. the very next day. It went “viral” on youtube almost immediately, and now boasts 80,000 plus hits! . The Flashdance was a great idea created by dedicated members of our group and our allies. The huge response it engendered was surprising – a dream come true for our campaign, sparking interest in our campaign locally, nationally, and internationally People continue to come up to us and tell us about what countries where it has been sent. The success of the Flashdance provided an overwhelmingly positive kick-off for our campaign. Philly BDS went big very early. We have far surpassed our expectations in many areas. As a creative coalition, Philly BDS now has 23 local endorsers, 18 national endorsers, and 12 international. Our outreach extends to campus work and faith-based communities. We are continuing to build a viable structure for our de-shelving campaign. Looking back over the year, let’s reflect together on the events and actions organized by Philly BDS, which include: 7 film series “Have You Heard from Johannesburg” with panel and discussion to educate community about anti-apartheid movement in South Africa Peoplehood launch Flashdance Outreach to endorsers- How to Get Involved Event Mime-in at Fresh Grocer: “Don’t Be Silent” Participation in First Friday through a/literature hand-out Caroling originally composed Christmas and holiday
Everybody’s talking about the Palestinian Bid for Statehood at the UN. While Philly BDS does not take a stand on the bid, we remind everyone of the position of the BDS Movement in Palestine, which is a reaffirmation of the importance of BDS as the “most potent and promising strategy of international solidarity with the Palestinian people. Please go out and join or start a campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions for Palestinian freedom in your community! To find out more, read the position of the BDS Movement: Position of BDS Movement: “The key lesson learned from South Africa is that, in order for world governments to end their complicity with Israel’s grave and persistent violations of human rights and international law, they must be compelled to do so through mass, well organized grassroots pressure by social movements and other components of civil society. In this context, BDS has proven to be the most potent and promising strategy of international solidarity with the Palestinian people in our struggle for self determination, freedom, justice and equality. In light of the above, and inspired by the will and the power of the people which have given rise to the Arab spring, the BNC calls upon people of conscience and international solidarity groups to proceed with building a mass BDS movement in the US and elsewhere in the world’s most powerful countries before and after September. Only such a mass movement can ensure that whatever diplomatic recognition that transpires at the UN in September on Palestinian statehood will advance the rights of the Palestinian people and raise the price of Israel’s occupation, colonialism and apartheid by further isolating it and those complicit in its crimes. A mass solidarity movement that can hold elected officials, especially in the US, accountable to the people …
Why boycott Israel? This interview was posted on Al-Jazeera and provides some useful insights into the nature and purposes of BDS: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/08/201188976675245.html
Read this article on the BDS Movement web site on recent efforts by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy to apply to Israel U.S. legislation that prohibits U.S. military aid to divisions of foreign forces that engage in human rights abuses: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/hold-israel-accountable-with-leahy-law-7870
The Delaware County Green Party has endorsed Philly BDS! The Philly BDS coalition now includes 54 local, national and international endorsers. Philly BDS is a creative partnership working for human rights in Israel/Palestine. We support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005 to end Israeli human rights abuses. For more information on Philly BDS, visit www.phillybds.org. The Green Party of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, is committed to fostering progressive policies locally and supporting the efforts of Greens in neighboring counties, throughout the state and the nation. For more information on the Green Party of Delaware County, visit www.delcogreens.org. Become a part of our coalition! Visit www.phillybds.org/allies. Read the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sactions Against Israel: www.phillybds.org/the-call.