Boycott Hyundai to end its involvement in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and the Naqab

We, Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea strongly support for this call from BDS48. Our actions will be followed later this month with other human rights groups in South Korea.


Haifa, 7 February 2017

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) calls upon our Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora, the peoples of the Arab world, and people of conscience worldwide to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), until it ends its involvement in Israel’s violations of our human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).

BDS48 is launching this boycott campaign at this particular moment in light of the extensive use of Hyundai equipment by the Israeli authorities in the recent demolitions of many homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab, on 18 January 2017, and in Qalansawa, further north, on 10 January 2017. According to Arabic media reports, the Israeli authorities are planning a second wave of home demolitions in Umm al-Hiran in the coming few days.

Despite being faced with documented evidence of its persistent complicity in Israeli ethnic cleansing policies against Palestinians and Syrians in the territories occupied since 1967, Hyundai has failed to stop its business-as-usual involvement. It has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

In Umm al-Hiran, Israeli armed forces destroyed many homes in the village, forcibly removing its Bedouin Palestinian population for the second time since the 1948 Nakba, injuring tens of peaceful protestors, and murdering the educator Yaquob Abu al-Qiyan in cold blood. The objective of this bloody conquest is to establish a Jewish-only colony on the ethnically cleansed village’s lands.

This latest crime by Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid comes as part of its ongoing policy of gradual ethnic cleansing since 1948 and that has led to the forcible displacement of most of the indigenous Palestinian people from our ancestral land. Israel today has more than 60 racist laws that legalize and institutionalize its special form of apartheid against its indigenous Palestinian citizens.

Inspired by the massive global solidarity movement that helped to end apartheid in South Africa, and stemming from the moral responsibility that falls on the shoulders of citizens and institutions everywhere to end any involvement in human rights violations, we, as Palestinian human rights defenders in Israel, call on:

  • People of conscience around the world to boycott Hyundai products;
  • Institutions, investment funds and churches to divest from Hyundai and local councils to exclude the company from public tenders;
  • Hyundai workers and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) to stand in solidarity with our peaceful struggle by pressuring the Hyundai management to stop the company’s complicity in Israeli violations of human rights. Our campaign is not intended at all to harm the interests of the company’s workers but to protect the rights of our people as stipulated in international law.

The achievements and impact of the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement for Palestinian rights have grown immensely in recent years, to the extent that Israel has recognized the movement’s “strategic” impact. BDS is today an essential pillar of the nonviolent Palestinian popular struggle for our inalienable rights under international law, most importantly the right to self-determination and the right of our refugees to return to their homes of origin.

Through this campaign to boycott Hyundai and your effective participation in it, we can pressure the company to end its involvement in Israel’s violations of human rights, just as several multinational giants were compelled by effective BDS campaigns to exit the Israeli market.

Veolia was the first to end its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations in 2015, followed by Orange telecommunication, CRH, and most recently G4S, the largest security company in the world, which sold almost all its illegal business in Israel.

Our people have decided to besiege our siege. Our campaign against Hyundai is part of this nonviolent human rights movement that has proven itself to be strategic and effective in isolating Israel’s regime of oppression academically, culturally and economically in order to exercise and protect our right as a people to live on our land in freedom, justice and dignity.

Fact Sheet

Hyundai’s complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights

  1. Hyundai, one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers that specializes in excavation and construction equipment, sells its products to Israel with full knowledge that they are used in the demolition of Palestinian homes, particularly in the occupied-Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, Beit Hanina, Surbaher, al-Issawiyya and at-Tur. These Israeli collective punishment measures are part of an ongoing policy of ethnic cleansing and apartheid that was compared by a leading UN official to the policies of the defunct South African apartheid regime.
  2. Human rights defenders have documented Israel’s use of Hyundai equipment in the construction of Israel’s illegal settlements, such as Halamish, near Ramallah, and the Barkan industrial zone, in the northern West Bank. This involvement by Hyundai is a flagrant form of complicity in Israel’s settlement policy, which was recently condemned by the UNSC resolution 2334 and which constitutes a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
  3. The human rights organization Adalah has documented the Israeli authorities’ decision in 1956 to allow the establishment of the village, Atir-Umm al-Hiran, to house the Bedouin Palestinians who were forcibly displaced during the 1948 Nakba from their original village, Khirbet Zubaleh. In 2015, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plan to forcibly displace them again from “Umm al-Hiran” to build a Jewish-only colony called Hiran.
  4. In response to the Israeli crime of demolishing Umm al-Hiran, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has called for boycotts and divestment against international corporations that are involved in Israel’s policy of home demolitions and ethnic cleansing, especially Caterpillar, Volvo, Hitachi and Hyundai. It has also called for expelling the Israeli parliament (Knesset) from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) due to its pivotal role in legislating these colonial and apartheid policies.
  5. In 2012, then UN Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, international law expert Richard Falk, called on the UN General Assembly to endorse a boycott of international corporations that are complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Falk’s list of companies included Caterpillar and Volvo, due to their involvement in the construction of Israeli colonies and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Hyundai is accused of involvement in similar crimes.
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Korea must stop its military aid to and arms trade with Israel now!

Korean civil society and popular movement organizations demand an immediate halt to all military transactions by the Korean government with Israel at a time of ongoing bombings and escalating casualties in Gaza.

Weapons exports data reported to UN Comtrade reveal that Korea has exported some $30 million worth of weapons to Israel in the last ten years, and imported around $40 million of Israeli weaponry over the same period. The Korean government does not disclose the specific types of weapons exported or imported, citing national security reasons. A large part of exports tracked by UN Comtrade consists of grenades, torpedoes, landmines, and missiles, but details regarding the subcategories of such weapons remain unknown. As for imports, press reports indicate a wide variety of Israeli weapons have been purchased, including attack drones Harpy and Searcher, Skylark II, Spike NLOS missiles (precision guided missiles imported for use against North Korean long-range and coastal artillery), and early warning radar Super Green Pine. In particular, imports of Iron Dome missiles, although currently postponed, had been pursued via an offset agreement in exchange for selling Korean battleships to Israel – despite criticisms that the particular missile system is not suitable to Korea.

Is would be a complete mistake to treat arms trade as if it were no different to ordinary commercial trade. Buying and selling weapons to Israel amounts to a strong political endorsement of the latter’s occupation of Palestine. South Korea is no longer a poor country; nor is it free from the responsibility to promote and sustain global peace.

We demand that the Korean government direct its energy toward promoting reconciliation in the Israel-Palestine region instead of selling weapons that may find use in killing women and children!

August 8, 2014

Korean Confederation of Trade Unions

Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea

Antiwar Peace Solidarity KOREA

Workers’ Solidarity

People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)

World Without War

People’s Solidarity for Social Progress

Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement

Korean Federation medical activist groups for Health Rights

Imagination for International Solidarity

Peace Network

Civil Peace Forum

Citizen’s Solidarity for Human Rights (CSHR in KOREA)

KOREA Christian Network for Peace of Palestine (KCNPP)

Korean Act Against the Korea-Japan Military Agreement

The Unending Nakba – 65 Years is Enough!

Today marks 65 years since the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in which over 750,000 of its Palestinian inhabitants were driven from their homes and land, Palestinians whose familes had lived there for generation after generation. The Nakba or Catastrophe continues with the ongoing Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the illegal siege of Gaza that continues to strangle its people.

This graphic from Visualizing Palestine offers a visual representation of displacement, dislocation and loss of homeland through the forced exile of Palestinians.

Disappearing Palestine

As this Al Jazeera documentary shows, the plan to cleanse the land of its Arab inhabitants goes back at least to a conquering and war hungry Napolean but took shape through the Zionist project with British colonial support involving Jewish militias and terror groups.

The massacre at Deir Yassen is the most well known symptom of this violent history but the loss of Palestinian culture and heritage through the organized robbery of Palestinian books is violence of another form. As this excellent documentary from Al Jazeera shows, the fact that these books remain inside Israel in a library that most Palestinians cannot visit is symbolic of the ongoing Nakba.

A commemoration of a tragic event that is still unwinding in military occupation and apartheid must be fuled by tears, but there are many sources of strength and hope. It is to the struggle of some of the most oppressed people on the planet we share that we must turn our attention also. As sweat next to tears, the cries of resistance are as deep as the wounds. Here is a collection of poems read aloud in his own voice by Palestine’s late national poet Mahmoud Darwish to the music of Le Trio Joubran.

“If the Olive Trees knew the hands that planted them, Their Oil would become Tears.”  – Marmoud Darwish

And, finally, here is a selection from Fatma Kassem’s 2011 book, Palestinian Women: Narrative histories and gendered memory (Zed Books) in which she tells the story of the ongoing Nakba through the lived herstories of Palestinian women now living inside the State of Israel on what was once Palestinian land.  I shall let the author describe in her own words which are taken from the opening lines of her book:
“This book traces and documents the gendered memory and narrative histories of a group of ordinary urban Palestinian women who witnessed the events of 1948, when the State of Israel was founded. Importantly, these women have all remained on their homeland after it subsequently became Israel, the Jewish state. Told in their own words, these women’s experiences serve as a window for examining the complex intersections of gender, history, memory, nationalism and citizenship in a situation of ongoing colonization and violent conflict between Palestinians and the Zionist State of Israel. Known in the Palestinian discourse of nationalism as the Nakba, or the Catastrophe, this event and those that have followed since 1948 still exert a powerful influence on the present-day lives of these women – as women, as members of the broader Palestinian community to which they belong and as Israeli citizens. Examined from a sociological perspective, the unique experiences of these Palestinian women from the margins can shed more light on the multiple continuing effects of the Nakba.”

The Nakba must end. Palestinians will be free. Until then, those of us with the freedom to raise our voices against injustice must.

Palestine: the view from Korea (April 29)

ROK-Israel Free Trade Agreement in the Works

A free trade agreement (FTA) between Israel and South Korea has been in pipelines for a number of years and a final deal was expected to be agreed upon by April of last year. While no formal agreement has yet been reached, it is hard to follow progress given that these deals are rarely brokered with public consultation. While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs lists the agreement as still being under consideration, a feasibility study was launched in August of 2009 and completed in August of 2010.

Korea Israel

It’s the “Creative Economy”, Stupid

Another important aspect of South Korea-Israel relations is the influence of the so-called “creative economy” that is currently the buzz word in the Blue House. The term comes from Israeli economic policy in which investment is focused on small startup companies which in turn is said to lead to overall economic growth. It came to popularity in Korea by former Yonsei University professor Yoon Jong-lok through his translation of the book ‘Start-Up Nation’. After gaining the ear of the Korean president, Yoon has now been appointed as the second vice minister of the Ministry of Future Planning and Science which has set up the Office of Creative Economy Planning. Following suit, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration established the Office of Creative Government Strategies, and it appears that other ministries are eager to adopt the new trend.

The fact that the Israeli economy relies in part on U.S. aid, which in turn goes into maintaining the military occupation of Palestinian land, seems not to have been a major consideration with the new buzz word floating around. The authors of ‘Start-up Nation’ explain how  Israeli struggled against the odds to achieve its economic miracle despite being “surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources”. Interestingly, this perpetual “state of war” has been used to imprison, kill and maim scores of Palestinians since 1948 and the lack of natural resources is in part made up for by illegally diverting water resources from the occupied Palestinian territories. Presumably these tidbits didn’t make it into the text.

In reality, the catch phrase appears to have little substance to it. No dramatic changes have been put into place since the change in administration that saw Park Geun Hye, daughter of former military dictator Park Chung Hee, come to power in South Korea. In one article that reads like satire an analyst was quoted as saying that, “The creative economy is a magic wand that can resolve all the problems. But the problem is that nobody knows where it is and how to control it.”

Samsung Expanding its Investment in Israel

One company that is caught up the hype is Korea’s largest chaebol or conglomerate, Samsung. The company is increasing its activity in Israel and earlier this month set up a benchmarking team to investigate the Israeli model in which some 500 ventures are launched each year by young Israelis. In February of this year the South Korean company launched a 100 million dollar venture capital fund to invest in early stage high tech start-ups in the U.S. and Israel. An innovation center is being established under the Samsung Semiconductor’s R&D center in Ramat Gan which already employs 200 workers. Apart from investing in startup companies, the center will also invest in Israeli academia and local venture capital funds investing in Israeli startups. Samsung also operates another R&D center in Yakum which it acquired in 2007.

The Most Recent Human Costs of the Military Occupation

The latest United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory (OCHAOPT) report for the week ending April 22 offered the following figures for 2013 thus far: 9 fatalities at the hands of the IDF, 2,032 Palestinians injured by the IDF, 119 incidents resulting in Palestinian casualties or property damage (20 incidents relating in Israeli casualties or property damage), 170 Palestinian structures (including homes) demolished with 327 people displaced. For the week ending April 26, the International Middle East Media Center is reporting that at least 98 military invasions were made by the IDF into Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. At least 52 Palestinians including 6 children were arrested. In addition, claiming to be in response to a rocket attack from Gaza on civilian communities in Southern Israel, the IDF bombed three sites in Gaza, two belonging to the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and another belonging to the military wing of Islamic Jihad. No injuries were reported.

Home demolition in Al Tur, occupied East Jerusalem, 24 April 2013. From ActiveStills.org.
Home demolition in Al Tur, occupied East Jerusalem, 24 April 2013. From ActiveStills.org.

Palestine: the view from Korea (April 22, 2013)

Apologies for missing last week’s update. As Palestine Peace & Solidarity has been busier than usual, I was unable to offer an update last week. By way of making up for this, this week I want to focus on some achievements made by the solidarity movement after a quick review of PPS’ recent actions.

Palestine Peace & Solidarity Action Review

Hyundai Flash Mob (April 12): PPS activists and friends gathered in front of Hyundai Heavy Industries’ main building in Jongno and in locations in Gwanghwamun, downtown Seoul, on April 12 to call on the company to make a commitment to end all sales of its products for use by Israel to carry out illegal activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. We were met by a representative of the company who agreed to pass on our complaint and get back to us. We are still waiting on their reply and have promised to return in the future if no such commitment is made. You can read our statement on Hyundai here and see a video of our action below.

GDAMS (April 15): April 15 was the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) and PPS teamed up with 23 other anti-war/peace groups and other civil society organizations to demand that both Koreas put down their arms for peace. A promotional video was made which won the Craziest GDAMS Video award which I hope you will take a few minutes to watch.

As the day coincided with the reopening of the National Assembly, a press conference was held in front of the assembly building with members from the different groups as well as 15 parliamentarians in attendance. The full press statement can be read here. In addition, a Korea-Japan Civil Society Joint Statement was endorsed by participating groups and published and activists donned Teletubby costumes and gathered messages of peace from the public throughout the day. It is interesting to see how these larger-than-life creatures can disarm even the most pro-war of pedestrians! The day ended with a talk titled ‘Sorrows of Empire: Confronting U.S. Military Imperialism’ by U.S. Veterans for Peace activist Dud Hendrick at which he discussed the impact of the U.S. empire of bases around the world.

We encourage you to join the photo petition by taking a photo of yourself calling for peace on the Korean peninsula and uploading it here onto the GDAMS Tumblr page.

 Palestinian Prisoners’ Day (April 17): PPS prepared a street action a day before the official day, on April 16, in front of the Israeli Embassy in downtown Seoul. Focusing on the practice administrative detention widely employed by Israel on Palestinians including many children, we handed out a bilingual information leaflet from Addameer and demanded an end to this cruel practice. You can read our short report on administrative detention here.

Palestine Peace and Solidarity activists In front of the Israeli Embassy, Seoul (April 16)
Palestine Peace and Solidarity activists In front of the Israeli Embassy, Seoul (April 16)

The human costs of occupation

The Palestine Center for Human Rights reports that during the week of April 11 – 17 the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) made a total of 71 incursions into the occupied West Bank in which four civilians (including two children) were wounded. A Palestinian shepherd was also shot and wounded by the IDF in the Gaza Strip and fisherman continued to be shot at by Israeli forces imposing the 3-nautical mile limit off Gaza’s western coast. 40 Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank, seven of whom were children.

Resistance and Hope

Palestinian Tent Villages: A new form of protest is gaining popularity in Palestine in which Palestinians are establishing what are referred to as ‘tent villages’ throughout the occupied West Bank in opposition to the development of new illegal, Jewish-only Israeli settlements. In a sense, the use of tents to form villages can be seen as an inversion of the illegal Israeli appropriation of Palestinian land. While not a completely new tactic, the recent use of tent villages as a protest space for Palestinians and international activists supporting their struggle began in January and gained momentum during President Obama’s recent visit. The aim is to build a national movement to occupy land from which Palestinians have been dispossessed.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions: Momentum appears to be increasing in the U.S. for the BDS campaign. The Student Senate at the University of California – Berkeley debated through the night of April 17 and into the morning of April 18, finally passing a resolution to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza.

In addition, the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) recently adopted a resolution in support of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions at its annual meeting. The US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel is stating that it is the first U.S. academic organization to boycott Israeli institutions.

In another success for the BDS movement possibly driven by the concerted effort of Palestine-based Addameer and other Palestinian prisoner support organizatons, G4S, the world’s largest security company in the world has signaled that it will end some of its contracts with Israel. The company currently operates in 125 countries hand has supplies security systems to all of the major Israeli prisons and detention centers where Palestinians are detained. The company claims it will end its contracts which provide security systems for Israeli military checkpoints, one prison and a police station in the occupied West Bank, but will continue to service prisons inside Israel where thousands of Palestinians are held.

Refuseniks: the courage to say No!: 19-year-old Israeli Natan Blanc is the latest brave Israeli to face jail time as a conscientious objector after refusing to serve in the Israeli military in opposition to its brutal occupation of Palestinian territory. He has already racked up 120 days in prison but refuses to abide by anything but his conscience. Other refuseniks, as they are known in Israel, include the nephew of current Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, Bibi Netanyahu who views Israel as an apartheid state. Below is a short interview with Natan which is quite inspiring.