Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NZ SuperFund investing in illegal Israeli settlements

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund, ($20 billion of taxpayer investments that funds our pensions) currently holds investments in over forty Israeli companies including two Israeli banks that finance the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.

Despite the Superfund having an ethical investment policy, $915,806 is invested in Bank Hapoalim and $77,476 is invested in Bank Leumi

According to Electronic Intifada,

Both banks operate in and offer loans to finance illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories....
Both banks have branches in the settlements of Gilo and Pisgat Ze’ev, located in the occupied West Bank. Bank Hapoalim also has branches in the Ramot settlement in occupied East Jerusalem as well as the occupied Golan Heights. Meanwhile, Bank Leumi maintains branches in the settlements of Ma’ale Adumim, Oranit, Kiryat Arba, all in the occupied West Bank, and Katzrin in the Golan Heights.
Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and the Syrian Golan Heights violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the Occupying Power to deport or transfer parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies. Therefore, the local branches of the two banks in these settlements are illegal as well.

Late last year the Superfund divested from three Israeli companies involved in settlement construction and the building of the apartheid wall. It is time for the Superfund to draw a clear line and end all investment in Israeli corporations until the occupation of Palestine ends.

As Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu said in 2012,
Many black South Africans have traveled to the occupied West Bank and have been appalled by Israeli roads built for Jewish settlers that West Bank Palestinians are denied access to, and by Jewish-only colonies built on Palestinian land in violation of international law.
Black South Africans and others around the world have seen the 2010 Human Rights Watch report which "describes the two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians." This, in my book, is apartheid. It is untenable
New Zealand money especially should not be used to help finance the construction of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. This is apartheid and it should be boycotted just as we did with South Africa in the 1980s.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Friday, February 15, 2013

Red in the Rainbow - Free Bradley Manning

Socialist Aotearoa members joined thousands of other Aucklanders marching in the first Gay Pride march in the city in twelve years. The first since Mayor John Banks pulled funding on the Hero Parade in 2002.

Labour, the Greens and Legalise Love marched in support of gay marriage. Floats and groups from across the queer community from school student groups to bars and roller derby thronged Ponsonby Road. The crowd went wild when dozens of queer soldiers, sailors and air force workers marched together. And a chorus remembering the victims of HIV/AIDS moved some to tears in the audience. Amnesty International members marched to highlight the persecution of gay people internationally.

Carrying placards calling for the release of Bradley Manning, Wikileaks whistleblower who is today on the 993rd day of incarceration, SA members marched in Pride 2013.

The judge ruling in his court martial yesterday ruled that Manning would not be able to present evidence relating to why he leaked the evidence.

Socialist Aotearoa unreservedly supports the right of everyone regardless of sexuality to marry. Revolutionary Russia was the first country in the world to allow gay marriage in 1917.

But today we marched with placards demanding Manning's release because as John Pilger powerfully wrote last year,

One of America's true heroes is the gay soldier Bradley Manning, the whistleblower alleged to have provided WikiLeaks with the epic evidence of American carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the Obama administration that smeared his homosexuality as weird, and it was Obama himself who declared a man convicted of no crime to be guilty. ....
The truth is that what matters to those who aspire to control our lives is not skin pigment or gender, or whether or not we are gay, but the class we serve. The goals are to ensure that we look inward on ourselves, not outward to others and never comprehend the sheer scale of undemocratic power, and to that we collaborate in isolating those who resist. This attrition of criminalising, brutalising and banning protest can too easily turn western democracies into states of fear.

SA helped bring the politics to pride. We are the red in the rainbow. Free Bradley Manning.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Monday, February 04, 2013

Les Miserables in Aotearoa

Last Wednesday (30th, January 2013) Event Cinemas Highland Park closed its doors for the last time.

Outside, some of the workers (many of whom have been laid off due to the closure) engaged in an impromptu Les Miserables re-enactment with red flags and placards.

The biggest tragedy is the pathetic redundancy pay. Just two weeks pay for all laid off employee. This has been offered by management to workers who have served as many as 17 years. This is pathetic compared to other Western nations that have redundancy pay set in law often calculated at an extra week or two weeks pay for every year worked.

This struggle has quite a few parallels with Les Miserables where the poor find themselves repeatedly victimised by the rich despite already being significantly disadvantaged.

Here are workers who simply want to support themselves and often their families while a company with plenty of money to spare tries to maximise profits once again at the expense of workers.

When a group of workers attempted to meet with management on the 29th of January accompanied by supporters and Unite Union staff they were turned away and asked to immediately leave the premises. Workers deserve more than this.

The workers themselves have not lost hope and have decided to use this opportunity to bring the issue of redundancy pay into the open for the benefit of all workers. The struggle that Highland Park cinema workers are leading could have lasting implications for New Zealand workers. Redundancy pay is taken for granted in many Western countries but in New Zealand it is left up to the employer to decide the amount allocated when a worker is made redundant.

By struggling together we can force bosses and the government to pay us a decent redundancy. A solidarity event is planned for 5pm Thursday 7 February at Event Cinemas Queen Street. Facebook details here.

-Bruce, SA