Sunday, June 07, 2009

Boycott? What boycott?

SCOTTISH Palestine Solidarity Campaign has sent out a message alerting supporters that on June 13 "the Edinburgh Leith Festival Gala Day will be sponsored by Veolia Water, a company complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation, apartheid and colonisation of Palestine.

"Leith Festival organisers have not responded formally to the Scottish PSC appeal to refuse any association with a company that is:

· involved in Israel's tramway project that links illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem

· directly implicated in maintaining illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)

· playing a key role in Israel's attempt to make its annexation of Palestinian East Jerusalem irreversible

"Veolia is actively involved in furthering Israel’s violations of international law and the continuing dispossession of the Palestinian people. Veolia is using Leith Festival as a cynical public relations exercise – the same company that violates international law in Palestine, also discharged raw sewage into the Firth of Forth (fined £13,500). Artists for Gaza have also written to the Leith Festival and also have not had any formal reply.

"Members of the Leith Festival board of directors are sympathetic to the cause of the Palestinian people. Words, however, are not enough. Leith shouldn't be going against the world-wide rejection of Veolia for its involvement in Israeli crimes. Veolia

· lost the eight-year, $4.5 billion dollar contract to operate Stockholm county's subway

· lost a 700 million contract in Bordeaux in France

· was told to get lost by Sligo and Galway councils in Ireland

· is losing as much as $7.5 billion in lost contracts.

Maybe so. I remember the Irish traincrews who refused to train Israeli drivers for the West Bank settlers' rail project. And my friend Dan Judelson of European Jews for Just Peace(EJJP) was able to tell a London meeting a few years ago that a Dutch bank had been persuaded to drop Veolia from its portfolio. An example of targetted boycott working then?

So what's this?

Action Alert - Prevent Alstom From Building The Haramain Express Railway!
To members of Support FreedomCall UK decision to boycott Israel

Ziyaad Lunat

Saudi Arabia awarded French company Alstom a multi-million dollar contract for the construction of Haramain Express Railway, to link the holy cities of Makkah and Madina. Alstom is in violation of international law for its part in the construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail, which will link illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (including East Jerusalem) with the city of Jerusalem. The construction of the light rail is part of a wider Israeli policy to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from Jerusalem and turn permanent the illegal occupation of the city.

The decision by the Saudi Arabian authorities is in violation of its own international commitments. The Arab League barred member states from dealing with companies involved in the construction of Jerusalem Light Rail project. The Saudi contract sends a signal of approval for Alstom's actions in Jerusalem and highlights the lack of integrity of the Haramain project: the Saudi Arabian government has chosen to link two of Islam's holiest cities by sponsoring the colonization of another.

Across the world a divestment campaign is taking pace against Alstom and its partner company Veolia, with victories in Sweden and France. In 2006, Dutch ASN Bank took the responsible decision to divest from the project. Alstom and Veolia are accused by Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee, BNC, of complicity in grave violation of international law and Palestinian rights for their role in the JLR project. Despite the pressure, the two companies have refused to end their participation in the project. With construction at an advanced stage, Alstom and Veolia are guilty of actively colluding with Israeli apartheid.

Demand That Saudi Authorities Divest From Alstom NOW!

1 - Write to the Saudi Railway Organization and to the Saudi Arabian diplomatic representation in your country demanding immediate cancellation of the contract with Alstom.

Saudi Railway Organisation contact details ( (Vice President) (Project Manager) (Project Manager) (Project Engineer)

Saudi Arabian diplomatic representations worldwide:

Please bcc us on your correspondence:

2 - Sign the petition:

3 - Write about this issue in your local media. Discuss it in your local mosque and community centers. Participate in actions for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.

Find Out More!

The Case Against Veolia and Alstrom:

GulfNews: Company in Saudi rail project linked to Israel:
Divestment campaign gains momentum in Europe:
Veolia looses 3.5 billion EUR contract in Sweden:
PLO takes Veolia Transport and Alstom to court in France:
Legal action in France against Veolia and Anstrom:
Time to hold Veolia to account:

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians From Jerusalem:

Ethnic Cleansing in East Jerusalem:
Civic Coalition to Defend Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem:
Israeli House Demolitions in Jerusalem Slideshow:
Policy of Residency Revocation of Palestinians in Jerusalem:

Global Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel:

Those Saudis again! But what about a supposedly more militant regime? let's go back to April, and the day when the world's media was full of Western reaction to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel speech at the UN conference on racism, in Geneva. With all the furore, and walk-outs, which only boosted Ahmadinejad in the eyes of many "anti-imperialists", not many noticed a little item from the Palestinian Ma'an news agency;

"Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian civil society groups called on Tehran to cut ties with two French companies profiting from work in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

"A day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took center stage as a critic of Israel at a UN conference in Geneva, the Palestinian Campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) criticized Iran for business ties with Veolia Environment and Alstrom.

"According to the Tehran Times, the Tehran Municipality is involved in negotiations with Veolia Environment for the development of the city’s urban transport system.

"Alstom has a headquarters in Tehran and received a number of large contracts, including a 192 million euro contract with Iran's state railways in 1999 and a larger 375 million euro contract to supply 50 turbo compressors to Iran in 2002.

"The two firms are the investors behind the Citypass consortium that won a 2002 tender issued by Israeli authorities for a light rail line that connects Jerusalem to settlements in the occupied West Bank. The consortium is responsible for construction, operation and maintenance of the system for a 30-year period.

"The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) called on Tehran to 'take the necessary steps to ban Veolia and Alstom and their subsidiaries from any contracts and operations in the country.'

"Veolia and Alstom have already been targeted for boycott in countries across Europe. In 2006 the Dutch ASN Bank decided to exclude Veolia from its portfolio on account of the firm’s actions in occupied Jerusalem. In 2008, the company lost its bid to for a contract with Stockholm for eight years, worth 3.5 billion euro, partially due to a strong public sentiment against the company due to its involvement the Jerusalem rail project.

"Later, the Swedish national pension fund AP7 blacklisted Alstom, partially for its Jerusalem involvement. Less than a week ago Veolia lost a contract worth 750 million euro in Bordeaux, France after to pressure from pro-Palestine activists.

President Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN’s Durban Review Conference against racism sparked a walkout by European diplomats and drew condemnation from Israeli and Western officials.

Ahmadinejad called Israel the 'most cruel and racist regime' during his speech."

But business is business.

So maybe the company will manage without sponsoring the Leith festival if it can still pull the odd Middle Eastern contract.

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