BDS IN THE PEWS
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign - PGAAWC
May 04, 2008
In the wake of the decision of the preparatory committee of the Durban Review Conference to accredit the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, NGO Monitor has prepared the following summary and analysis of information available on this organization.
Network and Structure
The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (PGAAWC) is a coalition of Palestinian NGOs and popular committees that “that mobilize and coordinate efforts on local, national and international levels.” According to their website, “these efforts are focused upon stopping and dismantling the Apartheid Wall, and resisting Israeli occupation and colonization.”
The majority of PGAAWC’s activities involve the separation barrier (“apartheid wall”) and promoting the BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) campaign, based on the 2001 Durban NGO Forum. PGAAWC publishes an array of materials and resources for activists, journalists, NGOs and political leaders focusing on advancing BDS.
The website contains little information on structure and funding, and no mailing address. PGAAWC’s bank account in Ramallah is listed in the name of the Ma'an Development Center, whose government funders include the UK, France, Canada, Norway, and various UN offices.
When it was founded, the Campaign’s network included “popular committees” in Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, etc. as well as Palestinian NGOs, such as:
• Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ)
• Ma’an Development Center (MA’AN)
• Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC)
• Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC)
• Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange (PACE)
• Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)
• Farmers Union, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC)
• Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG)
• Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid, Land Research Center (LRC)
PGAAWC’s website does not contain information on the current membership, but the contents reflect a close link with PENGON -- an eco-political Palestinian NGO network. Many members of PENGON (found here) are also on the PGAAWC list. PENGON and PGAAWC have also co-sponsored a book entitled “Stop the Wall in Palestine.”
The PGAAWC website does not provide any information on funding sources. There is an inactive link on their homepage for donations.
PENGON is also not transparent about funding sources. They list “organizations/donors that support environment related projects in Palestine”, but do not specify whether these organizations have provided funding for PENGON projects. Several of the constituent NGOs receive significant funding from government sources and other NGOs. ARIJ, for example, is funded by the European Commission, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), the Canadian International Development Research Centre, and USAID. As noted, the Ma'an Development Center is funded by the UK, France, Canada, Norway, various UN offices, and many other sources.
Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (DBS)
As noted, PGAAWC is a leading voice in the promotion of BDS. Its website highlights “call[s] for international boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. This is seen as the most effective way to force Israel to comply with the ICJ decision.” PGAAWC devotes much of its website to BDS related activities, and the “apartheid wall” campaign is a central means of advancing this agenda. This NGO also regularly accuses Israel of colonization, interning Palestinians in “ghettos” and calls for the “return of refugees” (see below for quotes).
In 2007 PGAAWC published a guide on BDS activism -- the updated guide can be found here.
“Israel at 60”
PGAAWC recent BDS activities parallel Israel’s 60th anniversary. An appeal encourages the international boycott of Israel, and “equates celebrating the foundation of Israel with a celebration of the colonial project of destruction and displacement that began in 1948.” PGAAWC is encouraging “international civil society” to “boycott any events associated with the Israel at 60 ‘celebration.”
The institutions listed as involved in this campaign include:
• Department of Refugee Affairs – PLO
• Joint Advocacy Initiative of the YMCA-YWCA (JAI), Jerusalem
• Ma'an Development Center, Ramallah
• Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, New York
Other activities in the BDS campaign include:
- calls to cancel a December 2007 free trade agreement between Israel and Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) and referring to Israel as a “criminal state”.
- resource guides for individuals interested in BDS
- press releases and calls to action for activists interested in organizing groups and activities to protest the “apartheid wall”.
Relevant Quotes with hyperlinked sources
On refugees: “All firms and goods and any economic agreements and deals must be contested and blocked for the purpose of isolating Israel economically until it ceases its destruction of Palestinian society and allows our refugees to return.”
On refuges: “The conference [the 2007 UN Civil Society Conference in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People] calls for the international boycott and isolation of the Occupation for its ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people, its policy of apartheid and its building of the Wall and settlements. The conference calls on the international community to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Nakba and to compel Israel to recognize the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”
On “ghettos”: “As the Apartheid Wall continues to imprison the Palestinian people in ghettos and to steal and raze their land, the 9th of July will see massive popular resistance to the Apartheid Wall staged by the Campaign’s popular committees across Palestine.”
On “Ghettos”: “2007 has seen the near-completion of the six ghettoes.” The Northern Ghetto- Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Nablus; The Central Ghetto- Salfit and Ramallah; The Southern Ghetto – Hebron and Bethlehem; The Jordan Valley; The Gaza Strip; Jerusalem.”
On “Ghettos”: “The Palestinian ghettoes [sic] that exists today serve a dual purpose; to exert severe economic and social pressures on the Palestinian population in order to force them to leave; and to allow complete control of the Palestinian population who remain in order to facilitate the expansion of the Jewish settlements into their confiscated land.”
On the State of Israel: “The establishment of the State of Israel sixty years ago was a settler-colonial project that systematically and violently uprooted more than 750 thousand Palestinian Arabs from their lands and homes. Sixty years ago, Zionist militias and gangs ransacked Palestinian properties and destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages. How can people of conscience celebrate this catastrophe.”