Yaar Peretz, Boycott from Within
Saturday 20 October 2012
Today about 10 Palestine Solidarity Campaigners joined together in the weekly campaign against Veolia outside London’s Natural History Museum. We were not alone with our message of solidarity with Palestine. During the action, we reached out to more than 1,000 visitors and we were supported by literally hundreds of them.
Furthermore, we managed to gather more than 100 signatures for our petition against the Museum’s partnership with Veolia.
The support we received from the public was overwhelming; from tourists from Taiwan to students from Brazil. We reached out to people from Britain as well of course, such as a traveller from Brighton who expressed his solidarity with Palestine very enthusiastically.
The Wildlife exhibition is presented not only in the Natural History Museum in London, but also across the United Kingdom. For instance, in Bristol and Oxford. Palestine solidarity activists will demonstrate against Veolia when the exhibitions go to those cities.
It is important to mention that in the past, the Natural History Museum was engaged with Ahava- an Israeli venture located in an illegal Settlement in the West Bank. After public pressure, it seems the Museum decided to break its engagement with Ahava.
However, the museum retains at least one extremely disturbing connection and that is with French multinational Veolia.
If you have not heard about it already, Veolia is a company that is complicit in helping Israel maintain its Apartheid regime in Palestine.
Veolia owns and operates a fleet of buses that Palestinians are not permitted to travel on ; these Veolia buses serve Jewish settlers. The roads that these buses travel on connect the most central districts of Israel, such as Tel Aviv, to the furthest and remotest illegal Israeli settlement in the heart of Palestine. For instance, one of these roads is route 443. It was built in heart of the West Bank on stolen Palestinian land on the pretence of being used for the benefit of the Palestinian population. However, in practice it is an Israeli-only highway which is used for Jewish settlers to travel rapidly from the smallest settlements to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This practice violates the most fundamental principles and regulations of international law.
Secondly, Veolia owns and operates light rail services in east and west Jerusalem – services that connect more than one hundred thousand illegal settlers.
Finally, Veolia owns and operates a landfill- in the Jordan Valley – located on stolen Palestinian land. You may have guessed at this point that the landfill wholly or mainly serves the illegal Settlements. This practice similarly violates international law.
To sum things up – this is Apartheid – and Veolia stands behind it without scruples.
However, the Natural History Museum chose to overlook the evidence and decided to ignore the racist practices of Veolia. The Museum still stands cold heartedly against the public in the UK which is completely disgusted by the apartheid practices of Veolia in Palestine.
The Museum must acknowledge the fact that Veolia’s actions are aggressive and directly violate the fundamental human rights of the Palestinians. It must admit that Veolia is directly responsible for the Palestinians inability to work, to go to school, to study at the university, to reach the hospital or to take a trip to visit friends and relatives.
The Palestinians are totally segregated – and Veolia plays a major role in maintaining their isolation.
Today, some of the visitors at the museum shared with us their experiences and some of them even visited Gaza and the West Bank.
It brought up haunting memories from my first experience in Palestine. There, among the olive groves of the village Dir-Kadis, I saw a Palestinian child shot in the head by a rubber bullet. I still don’t know his name and whether he survived.
As it is unlawful and immoral to shoot a child in the head, so are the practices of Veolia. Veolia’s complicity in serving, maintaining and linking Israel’s illegal Settlements means Veolia is helping Israel to crush on a daily basis fundamental human rights of the Palestinians such as the freedom of movement, freedom of employment, right to education, right to health, right to water, right to food and the right to life. We hope that the Natural History Museum will come to its senses and cut off its connections with Veolia – and other companies in the United Kingdom and worldwide will follow in its footsteps.